Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus scored stoppage-time goals to take Arsenal to a famous 3-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
In a game packed with drama, United thought they’d won it themselves on 88 minutes when Alejandro Garnacho broke free to score but a close VAR offside call denied him his moment. Erik ten Hag was adamant it should have stood.
Instead it was Arsenal’s £105m man who delivered the decisive goal, brilliantly controlling a corner at the back post before blasting a shot off 35-year-old Jonny Evans and past Andre Onana six minutes into added time.
Evans appealed for a foul from the cross but Rice’s celebrations into the crowd were an iconic moment, adding another remarkable chapter to this Premier League rivalry.
As the visitors desperately pushed for a response, Jesus sealed it, breaking away and leaving Diogo Dalot and United on the floor. Last season it was Eddie Nketiah dealing the injury-time knockout blow to United. This time it was a Rice-Jesus one-two.
In the first half, Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard had come up with an instant response to Marcus Rashford’s counter-attack goal, hitting the net 35 seconds after the restart.
Arsenal thought they’d been handed a chance to go in front on the hour mark when Kai Havertz went down in the box and a penalty was awarded. But replays showed it was the German looking for contact with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and it was overturned by a VAR check.
That capped a personal day to forget for Havertz, who made a hash of an early chance when the goal was at his mercy and then gave away the ball for United to break away for Rashford to score.
But his team-mates would create the comeback in the end – and what a comeback it was.
A thrilling finish to a match which leaves Arsenal with three wins from four and moves Mikel Arteta’s side up to fifth, just two points behind title rivals Manchester City.
As for Manchester United, they are down in 11th, six points behind their neighbours.
It was a cruel finale for them but Erik ten Hag – yet to pick up a point away in the Premier League this season – will spend the international break mulling over a six-point return from their opening batch of games which leaves them already playing catch up on the teams they want to challenge.
Arsenal: Ramsdale (6), White (7), Saliba (8), Gabriel (7), Zinchenko (6), Odegaard (8), Rice (9), Havertz (4), Saka (6), Nketiah (7), Martinelli (7).
Subs: Jesus (8), Tomiyasu (6), Vieira (7), Nelson (N/A), Jorginho (N/A)
Manchester United: Onana (5), Wan-Bissaka (6), Lindelof (6), Martinez (6), Dalot (7), Casemiro (6), Eriksen (6), Fernandes (6), Antony (6), Martial (6), Rashford (7).
Subs: Hojlund (6), Maguire (6), Evans (5), Garnacho (6)
Player of the match: Declan Rice (Arsenal)
The moments that shaped a dramatic second-half
How Arsenal came out on top…
Every meeting between these fierce Premier League rivals is met with anticipation and the atmosphere reached fever pitch at kick-off. The opening exchanges were similarly electric. But composure was glaringly absent from Havertz when the goal opened up for him on 14 minutes. The German snatched at his shot when Gabriel Martinelli’s cross broke to him and barely made contact. It was a shocking miss.
Lisandro Martinez was sharp to stop Eddie Nketiah from following up and he got in the way of an Odegaard shot soon after. On 19 minutes Rice headed over and it was Arsenal who were unquestionably on the front foot. But on this hot September day temperatures were rising too and a series of free-kicks and firm challenges stalled the home side’s advances.
- Arsenal switched to last season’s back four, with Gabriel Magalhaes and Oleksandr Zinchenko making their first starts of the season, with the injured Thomas Partey and Jakub Kiwior dropping out. Up top, Eddie Nketiah replaced Leandro Trossard.
- Man Utd made one change, with Victor Lindelof in for the injured Raphael Varane, meaning Rasmus Hojlund had to settle for a place on the bench, alongside Deadline Day signings Sergio Reguilon and Altay Bayindir.
Havertz then had his second moment to forget of the game. During a passage of Arsenal build-up he carelessly sent the ball straight to Christian Eriksen who launched a United counter which inevitably ended with Rashford stepping in from the left and arrowing a right-foot shot in off the far post. It was United’s first shot of the game but a trademark move from Rashford and his third in a row against these opponents.
Moments later the game was level again, though. Martinelli had been a standout for Arsenal and his interplay with Nketiah and then Odegaard led to the captain sweeping in a swift equaliser.
The game ramped up to the half-time whistle. Havertz made something of an amends by blocking an Eriksen shot. Rashford drove high and wide. Saka saw Martinez get in the way of another Arsenal attempt just before the break.
United came out with purpose in the second half and Rashford had his hands on his head when his rebound from Anthony Martial’s saved shot was blocked by William Saliba.
But Havertz was back in the spotlight just before the hour mark.
On first watch it was a stonewall penalty. But replays soon confirmed it was a spot-kick which had been bought by the forward with Wan-Bissaka not making contact. Boos rang out when it was overturned but it was the right decision in the end.
On 67 minutes Ten Hag turned to Hojlund – and also Harry Maguire to replace the injured Martinez. The new striker was jeered by the Arsenal fans; Maguire was cheered and had his name sung by the Arsenal supporters. A damning reflection of his reputation right now.
Martinelli whipped a shot just wide of the post soon and as the clock ticked down, Hojlund had a penalty shout waved away when he went down under a challenge from Gabriel after the pair tussled in the box.
A big chance of the final stages fell to Saka, who could only prod an effort at Andre Onana from inside the box. It felt like that might have been Arsenal’s opportunity come and gone.
And it felt like it was a moment they’d regret when Garnacho broke free to finish brilliantly past Ramsdale – but an eventual offside call left the home fans celebrating instead. They had every reason to moments later when Rice delivered the match-clinching moment at the back post.
The noise was off the scale. When Jesus sealed it with his goal-scoring return from injury there was delight among three-quarters of the Emirates crowd.
Arsenal vs Man Utd? This was a classic of the genre.
Arteta: I’m so proud of them; A tremendous performance from Rice
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “We all worked so hard and planned everything for moments like this. These moments will stick with us, with the crowd so connected to the team with the big history of these matches, it’s great. The will, the determination of the team, that will to win and go and go and go, I’m so proud of them.
“A team needs different tools to win football matches, and the capacity to react. We did that in the first half and that set the tone and brought some calmness to the team.”
On Rice: “A tremendous performance. As a holding midfielder, how he needs to dominate his area, to break up play. He was really dominant. And then he produced a magic moment to win us the game. You need to have that quality, that composure and he had it.
On Arsenal’s start: “There’s still 34 games to go. After 38 we will be where we deserve. We played four games, deserved to win four games. We can do better and the team will try to progress, to close games earlier.”
Ten Hag: Everything went against us
Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag: “The performance was alright from us. I thought we played a very good game but everything went against us – then you don’t win the game. We needed a little bit more luck to win the game. It was not offside [for Alejandro Garnacho goal]. It was the wrong angle.
“It was then a penalty on [Rasmus] Hojlund and then we concede a goal that’s a foul on Jonny Evans. It’s so clear and obvious. You can say you need to finish your chances and that you shouldn’t concede a goal after going 1-0 up. This is all true, but I was happy with the performance.”
Arsenal visit Everton in their first fixture following the international break on Sunday September 17, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 4.30pm.
Manchester United return to Old Trafford the day before for the visit of Brighton. Kick-off 3pm.
Opta stats – Rice scores latest winner seen in this fixture
- Declan Rice’s goal on 95 minutes and 43 seconds was the latest winning goal ever scored in a Premier League fixture between Arsenal and Manchester United.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six Premier League games against Manchester United at the Emirates (W5 D1), and have now won three consecutive home league games against them for the first time since May 1991.
- Manchester United haven’t won any of their last six Premier League away games in London (D2 L4), their longest such run since 2015 to 2016 between the spells of Louis van Gaal and José Mourinho (also six games).
- Marcus Rashford became just the second Manchester United player to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances against Arsenal, along with Robin van Persie who did so between 2012 and 2013.
- Marcus Rashford opened the scoring in the 27th minute, with what was both Manchester United’s first shot attempt and touch in Arsenal’s penalty area. Indeed, it was the seventh time in 2023 that Arsenal have conceded from the opposition’s first shot in a Premier League match – the most of any side in this period.
- Manchester United’s Christian Eriksen registered his 75th assist in the Premier League, moving ahead of Thierry Henry (74) and into fifth for most assists by overseas players in the competition’s history.