Meetings between Arsenal and Manchester United in years gone by have been the stuff of legend, iconic battles, simply ‘prime Barclays’.
Well, on Sunday night, we saw a glimpse of those good old days.
A weighted clash that involved two title-chasers, an exhibition of quality with superb goals and, most importantly, a battle fought with grit, bite and determination, Sunday’s clash between the two sides was reminiscent of Arsenal vs Manchester United throughout the noughties – it was almost Fergie vs Wenger.
Both teams, under Mikel Arteta and Erik ten Hag respectively, have thoroughly impressed throughout the 2022/23 campaign.
The Gunners have been red hot and resolute since the opening day to lead the frontrunners in the Premier League while, after a slow start, the Red Devils have bounced back to form a title challenge of their own.
The importance of Sunday night’s clash could not have been overstated and, with a late, dramatic 3-2 victory to show for their efforts, Arsenal went home having taken a big step in the title race.
A 2-2 draw was on the horizon when Lisandro Martinez’s well-taken, swooping header cancelled out Bukayo Saka’s sublime long-range effort – that was after Marcus Rashofrd’s equally thumping effort had been chalked off by Eddie Nketiah’s first of the game.
At 2-2, Manchester City might have thought themselves the true victors with their closest competitors destined to drop two points each while they themselves ran out 3-0 winners against Wolves earlier in the day.
Nketiah’s 90th-minute winner, however, saw the Gunners crowd produce fireworks – and with good reason.
The win not only avoids conceding the double to United (who, coincidentally, are the only side to beat Arsenal so far this season) but also extends the gap they have over ten Hag’s men to 11 points – the same points difference between Arteta’s side and Eddie Howe’s Newcastle, who sit third.
Meanwhile, even after Erling Haaland’s hat-trick and a second Premier League win on the trot for City, Arsenal still boast a five-point lead over Pep Guardiola’s men – with a game in hand.
A draw might not have been the end of the world for either side, but a win only strengthens Arsenal’s title credentials and really tightens their grip on top spot as things stand. Meanwhile, defeat for the Red Devils will taste bitter, will require a whole lot of strength to bounce back from, and is a real dent in their own push.
City are still on the Gunners’ tails, but victory over United was, in conclusion, pretty massive in the title-race picture. Here’s how things stand at the top of the table after Sunday’s action…
1. Arsenal (played 19; 50pts; 29 GD)
2. Manchester City (played 20; 45pts; 33 GD)
3. Newcastle United (played 20; 39pts; 22 GD)
4. Manchester United (played 20; 39pts; 7 GD)