Arsenal got the better of Manchester United in a win that all but ends the Red Devils’ hopes of making the top four this season.

Arsenal and Manchester United faced off in a game that had huge implications on both sides’ chances of making it to the top four. However, just one side turned in what was largely an exciting match between two teams who have fallen off the perch in recent years.

Manchester United showed they learned nothing from the humiliation at Anfield by conceding after just three minutes. David de Gea pulled off a stunning save to deny Eddie Nketiah only for the ball to fall to Nuno Tavares for a tap-in.

The Gunners doubled their lead in the 30th minute when Nketiah beat de Gea after a bout of pinball in the area. While the goal was chalked off for offside, Manchester United ended up conceding a penalty after it was observed that Alex Telles fouled Bukayo Saka in the build-up.

If anything, this series of events perfectly encapsulated the Red Devils’ season. Ralf Rangnick’s men have been shooting themselves in the foot all campaign and continued that trend at the Emirates. Saka stepped up to convert his second goal in two games to hand the home side a healthy lead.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th Premier League goal soon after to reduce the deficit and keep Manchester United in the game. However, when the chance to equalise presented itself in the second half, the Red Devils were found wanting. Bruno Fernandes produced a shocking penalty to hand the initiative back to Arsenal.

The Gunners took it with both hands as a thunderbolt from Granit Xhaka all but settled the tie in the 70th minute. Mikel Arteta’s men now hold the aces when it comes to the top four race, and it remains to be seen just how they negotiate the remaining games. For Manchester United, a poor season has just got even worse. The Hard Tackle now looks at how both sets of players performed on the night.

Aaron Ramsdale: 6/10

It was a mixed outing for Ramsdale who looked nervous in the first half and struggled with the ball at his feet. There was little he could do about Ronaldo’s goal, and he came up big when he was called upon to deny Diogo Dalot in the second half.

Cedric Soares: 5/10

The Portuguese full-back stood in for Takehiro Tomiyasu and endured a difficult game on the right. Jadon Sancho troubled him on numerous occasions, beating him with his skills on the ball. Cedric can also consider himself lucky to not concede a penalty after he brushed aside a Sancho dribble with his arm in the first half. He also failed to contribute much in the attack for the Gunners.

Ben White: 6/10

The summer signing was composed on the ball but had moments of nervousness as well. However, he did make a few crucial touches in the second half as Manchester United threatened to find a way back into the game.

Gabriel Magalhaes: 5/10

The Brazilian defender made a crucial tackle to deny Bruno Fernandes after Ramsale caused havoc with a poor pass. But he should have done better to mark Ronaldo in the build-up to Manchester United’s goal. Gabriel, to his credit, did his best and largely helped the defence keep its shape in the second half.

Nuno Tavares: 5/10

A mixed afternoon for the youngster who had his ups and downs at either end of the pitch. Tavares grabbed his first Arsenal goal in the third minute, giving Dalot the slip in the build-up. He struggled defensively and failed to prevent Ronaldo from halving Manchester United’s deficit in the first half. Tavares also gave away a poor penalty that could have changed the look of the tie. Thankfully for him, Bruno Fernandes missed handing Arsenal a massive reprieve.

Mohamed Elneny: 6/10

It was a much-improved performance by the Egyptian who filled in for Thomas Partey with ease. He proved to be a difficult hurdle for the Manchester United midfield to bypass and even forced de Gea into a fantastic save in the first half.

Granit Xhaka: 7/10

The Swiss destroyer formed a good partnership with Elneny and largely kept Manchester United at bay. He settled the tie in the second half with a strike that blew the top off the Emirates.

Bukayo Saka: 8/10

The 20-year-old was arguably Arsenal’s most influential player against Manchester United. He had a hand in most of the Gunners’ best attacking moves and also scored the penalty with minimal fuss. Saka caused Alex Telles plenty of problems, leaving the Brazilian bamboozled at times.

Martin Odegaard: 8/10

The Norwegian was certainly watching Manchester United’s humiliating defeat at Anfield as he served up a performance that reminded one of Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara. Odegaard was difficult to nail down and weaved through the Manchester United midfield and defence on several occasions. The stand-in Arsenal skipper certainly repaid the faith put in him by Arteta and was a master playmaker on the night.

Eddie Nketiah: 7/10

The hero at Stamford Bridge in midweek, Nketiah appears to be a player reborn. He failed to grab a brace on the night but was a constant thorn for the Manchester United defence. He wreaked havoc in the final third and linked up well with Smith Rowe, Saka and Odegaard. It will not come as a surprise if he continues to keep Alexandre Lacazette out of the starting lineup.

Emile Smith Rowe: 6/10

The Englishman was arguably Arsenal’s poorest forward against Manchester United and never quite got going. He was taken off for Gabriel Martinelli in the 64th minute.


Gabriel Martinelli: 6/10

He failed to set the stage alight and enjoyed a largely passable performance.

Rob Holding: 6/10

Holding came on for Saka in the 74th minute as Arsenal looked to shut shop. A fairly decent performance that did not make life difficult for him or his teammates.

Takehiro Tomiyasu: N/A

Arsenal fans will be glad to see Tomiyasu back given Cedric’s struggles on the night.

Manchester United

David de Gea: 7/10

The only Manchester United player who can come out of the game with his dignity intact. Where the Red Devils would be without their shot-stopper is a serious question as the Spaniard once again made several saves to keep the scoreline respectable. The lack of protection he is offered at times is downright criminal.

Diogo Dalot: 5/10

Dalot was as useful as a chocolate teapot as Tavares ghosted past him to open the scoring on the night. Dalot made two good forays forward but was incapable of finding the back of the net.

Victor Lindelof: 6/10

If anything, the Swede was Manchester United’s best defender against Arsenal. He failed to shoot himself in the foot and was largely solid with the ball at his feet.

Raphael Varane: 4/10

The Frenchman was admittedly returning after an injury layoff, but his performance against Arsenal was shocking. Varane appeared to be out on a one-man mission to prove that Harry Maguire was not the only cause for Manchester United’s defensive frailties, and he succeeded in doing so.

Alex Telles: 4/10

The Brazilian struggled all night and also gave away a poor penalty in the first half. Saka had his number all night and spun rings around him. It is perhaps a sobering admission that Luke Shaw is a better left-back than Telles.

Scott McTominay: 5/10

The Scottish international was not lacking energy or intent but came short in application. McTominay continued to push and also won the penalty that offered his side a shot at redemption.

Nemanja Matic: 5/10

Matic’s age is showing, and he struggled to go up against Xhaka and Elneny on Saturday. He did produce a peach of a cross to Ronaldo who fired home Manchester United’s only goal.

Anthony Elanga: 5/10

Elanga looked lively and had a few opportunities to run in behind the Arsenal defence. He got the better of Tavares on several occasions but could find no way past Ramsdale in the Arsenal goal. The youngster is promising but will need to hone his abilities better to make his talent count.

Bruno Fernandes: 2/10

A total embarrassment for a player who appears to be doing his talking off the field than on it. Fernandes could have contributed more had he shown the same energy on the ball as he does while confronting the referee. The Portuguese international wasted a golden opportunity from the spot and did little of note all game. Fernandes can also count himself lucky not to get sent off for a wild tackle on Tavares.

Jadon Sancho: 5/10

Sancho, to his credit, made life hell for Cedric and should maybe have won a penalty on Saturday. While he ran rings around the Arsenal full-back, it is noteworthy that the Englishman failed to drive home the advantage. 

Cristiano Ronaldo: 7/10

Manchester United’s best outfield player on the night. Ronaldo took his goal with a striker’s instinct and was their most dangerous attacker on the night. Unfortunately, he lacked support and was largely outnumbered by the Arsenal defence. 


Jesse Lingard: 5/10

He replaced Elanga in the 77th minute but produced little of note.

Marcus Rashford: 5/10

The Englishman came on for Matic in the 77th minute with the game done and dusted.

Juan Mata: N/A

A late cameo for the veteran Spaniard. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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