Three talking points from Manchester United's thrilling victory over Arsenal
A brace from Jesse Lingard and a goalkeeping masterclass by David de Gea helped Manchester United beat Arsenal in a breathless encounter at the Emirates.
The visitors were two goals to the good after 11 minutes as Antonio Valencia and Lingard struck early.
Alexandre Lacazette, a surprise inclusion after appearing to suffer a groin stain in midweek, halved the arrears shortly after half-time, but United extinguished hopes of a comeback when Lingard bagged his second just on the hour mark.
In a game that had everything, Paul Pogba was shown a red card for a dangerous challenge on Hector Bellerin.
Despite the scoreline, it was de Gea who received all the plaudits for a quite outstanding display between the posts.
Here are three talking points as United ended Arsenal’s 100 per cent home record and kept the pressure on table-topping Manchester City.
De Gea delivers a goalkeeping masterclass
It is not often a goalkeeper is the undisputed Man of the Match after a 3-1 victory. However, such was the quality of de Gea’s performance that no other candidate came close. His 14 saves were the joint most in a Premier League game since Opta started compiling data in the 2003/04 season.
Very few of them were regulation. In fact, many of them defied belief; particularly the phenomenal double save that denied Lacazette and Sanchez at 1-2.
The Gunners dominated the statistics and threw the proverbial kitchen sink at United. Against any other team they may well have won comfortably, but de Gea was a one-man blockade that repelled almost everything that came his way.
The debate about who is the best goalkeeper in the world is largely a subjective one. On this evidence, though, there can be little argument that de Gea holds that title. He continues to grow in stature and his importance for United cannot be overstated.
Gunners can be positive despite setback
Arsenal had gone into this match in good form and boasting a flawless home record. Although United halted their winning sequence, the Gunners need not be disheartened. After finding themselves two goals adrift at such an early stage, many expected them to crumble against Jose Mourinho’s well-oiled machine.
But Arsenal fought back and played some excellent football that, on another day, would have paid dividends. Manager Arsene Wenger will be disappointed that defensive errors once again contributed to their demise, with United demonstrating a ruthless streak to punish individual mistakes from Laurent Koscielny and Shokdran Mustafi.
The upshot of this result is that Arsenal have slipped to fifth and out of the Champions League places as it stands. But they can take plenty of positives from the performance, in particular the movement and fluidity of the front three of Lacezette, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
Lingard justifies Mourinho’s faith in him
Rewarded for his accomplished display and sumptuous solo goal against Watford four days earlier, Lingard vindicated Mourinho’s decision to start him against Arsenal with a match-winning double. He took his first goal with aplomb, poking the ball into the far corner after being teed up by Anthony Martial.
His second owed to great work by Pogba, who proved too strong for Koscielny and squared the ball for the England international to tap the ball into an unguarded net. Lingard has been in and out of the team this season, but his performances in the past two games will have given Mourinho great encouragement.
The 24-year-old is not a natural in front of goal; his three recent efforts are as many as he scored in his previous 51 games. But if he can continue his recent burst of form then he will not only become more of a regular in the United starting XI, but also give Gareth Southgate food for thought with next year’s World Cup on the horizon.