Friday, October 7, 2022
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Man United end Arsenal’s fairy tale start

Manchester United’s £82m new boy Antony scored on his debut and Marcus Rashford got two as Erik ten Hag’s men ended Arsenal’s 100% start to the season at Old Trafford.

The Brazilian opened the scoring 10 minutes before half-time in the pulsating duel, sweeping a shot into the far corner.

Rashford claimed the assist for that and then, after Bukayo Saka had levelled on the hour, the England striker profited from two clinical United counter-attacks.

Bruno Fernandes was at the heart of both, splitting the Arsenal defence for Rashford’s first, then sending Christian Eriksen clear as the Dane provided the striker with a tap-in.

It was Rashford’s first Premier League double since December 2020, helping lift them to fifth in the table.

Arsenal remain top. However, after their excellent start to the season, manager Mikel Arteta will be concerned at how easily his side were opened up, although the Gunners did have a first-half Gabriel Martinelli goal ruled out by VAR.

“The game was there for the taking,” Arteta said. “We haven’t won it because we lacked some discipline in some moments and we weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal.

“If we play with more courage we win the game. It is a big lesson – if you want to win here you have to do everything so right.”

Man Utd 3-1 Arsenal: Red Devils’ spirit and mentality has “really improved” – Erik ten Hag

Having failed to prise Antony out of Ajax at the start of the summer and with the attempt to sign Ten Hag’s first choice transfer window target Frenkie de Jong stalling, United went back for the Brazilian in the wake of those awful defeats to Brighton and Brentford at the start of the season.

Evidently, United were not in a strong bargaining position and the eventual price – the fourth highest sum ever paid by a Premier League club – is accepted by most to be significantly inflated.

Yet it is impossible to quantify financially how a positive attitude transfers to supporters.

It was clear, with his tricks and flicks and teasing of defenders, the 24-year-old is not short on confidence.

Referee Paul Tierney, who played an excellent advantage for the Brazilian’s goal after Bruno Fernandes had been fouled in the build-up, had to warn him about his celebration in front of the Arsenal fans with the ball up his shirt.

Not long after that, Antony was upended from behind by Granit Xhaka. Had he connected with his immediate response, trying to slice Xhaka down from behind, the response from Tierney would almost certainly have been more than a ticking off.

The United fans loved it all. And while he lasted less than an hour before being replaced by Cristiano Ronaldo, Antony was afforded a standing ovation as he left the field.

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