The Erling Haaland goal machine is purring again, the Norwegian having scored three goals in Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Wolverhampton on Sunday, for the 21st day of the Premier League, but Arsenal then managed to tame United ( 3-2).
. Arsenal struggle against Manchester United
Faced with a combative Manchester United, Arsenal won in extremis a precious and deserved success at the end of a breathless match.
With 50 points, the Gunners regain a five-point lead over their immediate pursuer, with one game less, while the Red Devils remain 4th with 39 points.
This is also the best total of points after 19 games played in the history of Londoners, a finding against which Mikel Arteta refuses to ignite.
“It’s great and we deserve to be where we are given the way we play. But there are many things that we can do much better,” explained the technician at the microphone of Sky Sports .
“I know my team, I know where we are, I know where we want to get and we are still far from it,” he added at a press conference.
Deprived of their metronome Casemiro, suspended, in the middle of the field, United have long believed in a draw despite a large part of the second period to suffer in their area, but Arsenal never let go.
The visitors had managed to open the scoring with a superb strike from Marcus Rashford from 23 meters (0-1, 17th), but Arsenal had immediately reacted, equalizing on a perfect cross from Granit Xhaka for the head of Eddie Nketiah, totally forgotten by Aaron Wan-Bissaka behind his back (1-1, 24th).
Reverse scenario at the start of the second half when Bukayo Saka easily got rid of Christian Eriksen to send a shot wrapped from 22 meters out of reach from David De Gea, who had anticipated on the wrong side (2-1, 53rd).
But the joy was short-lived for the Londoners who, after a save from Aaron Ramsdale past Rashford (55th), saw his keeper interfere with Takehiro Tomiyasu from a corner, allowing Lisandro Martinez to throw in for a diving header and victorious lobed (2-2, 59th).
Arsenal could have snatched the three points on a shot from Saka which hit the outside of the post or a recovery from Nketiah from 7 meters pushed back by an astonishing reflex from Gea.
But we had to wait until the last minute to see Nketiah, with an acrobatic heel, find the fault again (3-2, 90th), not without a few minutes of suspense offered by the VAR for a possible offside.
This success confirms the Gunners who, in five days, will face City in the 16th final of the FA Cup at the Etihad, before welcoming them, in the league this time, on February 15 at the Emirates.
. Halland reactor reignited
Stammering their football somewhat since the resumption of the championship, the Citizens seem to be restarting since the second half against Tottenham on Thursday, where they went from 0-2 to 4-2, with Haaland’s first achievement in 2023, author this time of a triple.
Against Wolves, in progress since the arrival on the bench of Julen Lopetegui, even if they are still only 17th, City showed patience.
The first attempts of Haaland, Jack Grealish, Ilkay Gündogan or Rodri either did not find the frame or made José Sa shine in the cages.
But at the first perfectly executed action, Kevin de Bruyne’s spontaneous cross, found by Riyad Mahrez, was victoriously taken over by Haaland, a header higher than everyone else at the far post (1-0, 40th).
Haaland added a penalty (2-0, 50th) and a third goal on a caviar from Mahrez, on which Sa had sent the ball directly (3-0, 54th), before leaving just after the hour mark with the sense of duty accomplished.
This is his fourth hat-trick in 19 league games, where the previous record, held by Ruud van Nistelrooy, was 65 matches.
And only Alan Shearer, in 1996-1997, scored more hat-tricks in one season (5).
With 25 goals, Haaland has also already surpassed the tally of last year’s two top scorers, Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah (23).