A thrilling match between Manchester United and Arsenal was highlighted by a goal for Antony on his Premier League debut, the Gunners’ brilliance, and a double from Marcus Rashford that put a stop to the visitors’ 100% record.

In the end, however, Mikel Arteta’s squad had lost their focus by the time Rashford scored his second goal after taking the superb Christian Eriksen’s pass in a breakaway to finish them off in a match that had the sense of cruiserweights racing at each other with little respite. After the final whistle, Arsenal still held the lead with 15 points, while United moved up to fifth with 12. United’s opening two humiliating losses have since faded into the past, and this fourth straight triumph has made their future look even more promising.

With touches for Antony, some trickery by Diogo Dalot down the left, and an Arsenal counter in which Gabriel Jesus drew a foul from Lisandro Martnez, the early exchanges provided a preview of the spectacle to come. Following Martin Ødegaard’s free-kick, Bruno Fernandes headed the ball clear.

Jesus was left poleaxed on the floor as Scott McTominay stole the ball from him. Concerns about a possible head injury caused referee Paul Tierney to halt play, and when play resumed, United presented a significant threat. Despite being at a dead end, Antony managed to poke at Dalot, whose cross touched Eriksen’s boot but missed.

Following a disorienting phase in which Arsenal charged upfield, a free kick resulted in the ball falling to William Saliba, who blasted over. They would launch their subsequent attack, resulting in the day’s most recent VAR incident. Eriksen was taken out of the game by Ødegaard in midfield, and Gabriel Martinelli received a pass from Bukayo Saka that divided the defense.

When Tierney was told to go to the pitchside monitor, there could only be one result. His finish was cool as David De Gea ran out. Ødegaard was therefore found to have fouled Eriksen – it appeared to be a minor foul – and the strike was called out.

Although it was disheartening for the visitors, the action served as just as strong of a warning as the way Saka skated past Tyrell Malacia a few seconds later while the left-back was restrained. As evidenced by an Antony jink and Jadon Sancho’s fast feet after receiving from Martnez, Arteta’s troops were as resolute as United.

Martinelli was recognized as the best performer. He was a persistent threat on the left, frequently working with Ødegaard. Only a leap akin to a panther by David De Gea kept United level when the latter floated the ball onto the Brazilian’s head.

For Antony, what followed was a dream. A few dummies that the new man had offered along the right were mocked. The No. 10 threaded a pass to Antony, who beat Aaron Ramsdale to the left of the field to cause chaos. His celebration came to an end with a funny mime of his hands looking like cat claws in front of the camera after much beating of the club symbol.

There was no break in the assaulting action as the second half of this fierce battle got underway. Once more, the majority of it came from Arsenal, whose command of the time and space exuded class. An equalizer was what they really needed. Most of the time, it appeared doable, as did a United secession for a little period of time.

This latter strategy was their main strategy. Ødegaard missed a clear opportunity by cutting wide from close range, and Saka’s twist opened up a goal-scoring opportunity, but it was again off-target. Thomas Partey was absent from Arteta’s full-strength XI, making him a one-man semaphore act. When Ten Hag replaced Antony with Cristiano Ronaldo after 57 minutes, he provided a clue as to his own thinking: it was the exact antithesis of a protect-what-we-have approach.

When Arsenal scored a deserving equalizer, Raphaël Varane, who was tasked with performing this duty as United’s senior defender, failed to do so. The No. 19 threw a direct pass to Ødegaard, whose cross to Jesus fizzed off Dalot and allowed Saka to score from 12 yards. Almost immediately after, United launched its first offensive attack of the second half. Eriksen slipped a pass over that was intercepted by Rashford after it passed through the Arsenal back four.

But when Eriksen tapped to Fernandes, who then set Rashford free to slam the ball beyond Ramsdale, the attacker made no mistakes. Rashford’s grin radiated happiness. Sancho was immediately substituted for Fred by Ten Hag in order to steady the ship before Rashford made it 3-1. It appeared that United was coasting in a crucial game against a crucial opponent for the first time in a while, and that’s exactly what they accomplished in the final minutes as the home crowd erupted in celebration as Tierney blew for full-time.

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