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Manchester United embrace intensity in US Tour win over Arsenal

Nice win to start the US tour...

Arsenal v Manchester United - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Manchester United’s US Tour got off and running with an entertaining 2-0 win over Premier League rivals Arsenal at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It may not have been for points or major silverware, but it was a nice sample of intensity from two teams with plenty of history and plenty of ambition to take another step toward competing at the highest levels of football.

A crowd of over 82,000 people wasn’t deterred by nightmare traffic and transit, and the large host of United fans will certainly be happy with the way in which the squad fought both halves to outplay Arsenal’s first choice XI.

A strong Red Devils side took the pitch to start the match, met by arguably Mikel Arteta’s strongest side for the Gunners. The £100m man Declan Rice anchored the midfield behind both Martin Odegaard and recent £65m arrival Kai Havertz from Chelsea. It was a strong unit, but couldn’t contain the quick transition play of United. Captain Bruno Fernandes struck first in the 30th minute before a sweeping back to front move led to a second goal from Sancho in the 37th.

United manager Erik ten Hag made it known the Friday before that these matches aren’t just a walkthrough for his players. He wanted an atmosphere and opposition that challenged his side, and the club were quick to remind everyone of that shortly after kick off.

The manager even had to be calmed down at one point by Fernandes, who pulled him back a bit from sharing his opinion over the officiating after several calls went Arsenal’s way. Fouls and cards are a bit unusual for this part of the club season calendar, so the prevalence early and often should be an indicator of the intensity produced by the two English heavyweights.

There is a ways to go for both sides to compete at the top once again, but both sides think they’ve gotten stronger in that pursuit this summer. Arsenal have already completed multiple moves to improve upon a second place finish last season, but United are making moves as well. Mason Mount and Andre Onana have arrived and the club are still looking to complete more business.

The rivalry between United and Arsenal defined an era of Premier League football over two decades ago, but fans of both teams have been treated to some truly entertaining and testy encounters once again. Both Premier League matches between the sides last year featured at least four goals and crunching tackles. Both clubs also qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

It’s not quite the same as Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira going at it, but there is an undeniable tenacity between United and Arsenal. The two sides have their sights set high, and future clashes between them seem certain to continue delivering fireworks.