Arsenal edge past Manchester United to reclaim Premier League lead

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Arsenal revived their hopes of winning the Premier League title by breaking their longstanding struggles at Old Trafford, securing a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Manchester United on Sunday, thereby reclaiming the top position on the table.

Leandro Trossard found the net in the 20th minute, securing Arsenal’s second away win against United in 17 games and putting them one point ahead at the summit.

However, Manchester City still hold the fate of the title in their hands, as the defending champions have two matches remaining compared to Arsenal’s one.

However, Arsenal maintained the pressure on Pep Guardiola’s side as they prepare for a challenging visit to Tottenham on Tuesday.

The defeat further diminishes United’s prospects of securing a spot in Europe for the next season.

Erik ten Hag’s squad demonstrated more determination compared to their lackluster performance in a 4-0 loss to Crystal Palace earlier in the week. Nevertheless, they have only managed to secure one victory in their last eight Premier League matches.

United remains in the eighth position on the table, trailing Newcastle and Chelsea by three points, with a crucial match against Newcastle scheduled for Wednesday.

Arsenal has displayed remarkable form in 2024, keeping their hopes alive for their first league title in two decades. Under Mikel Arteta’s guidance, the team has won 15 and drawn one of their 17 league fixtures since the beginning of the year.

However, Arsenal did not perform at their peak level, as anticipated, against an injury-depleted United side. The match took place under unexpectedly oppressive heat conditions in England’s north-west.

The manner of the defeat against Palace had intensified the scrutiny on United’s manager, Ten Hag. In response, he made three alterations to the team that suffered a heavy loss at Selhurst Park, with Scott McTominay, Sofyan Amrabat, and Amad Diallo entering the lineup.

Once again, the Dutch coach’s choices were limited by a lengthy injury list, which included captain Bruno Fernandes. The team’s bench predominantly featured young players. Retaining Casemiro as a makeshift center-back, following his poor performance against Palace, is likely to attract further criticism toward the embattled manager.

The Brazil captain faced exclusion from their Copa America squad earlier in the week due to his poor performance.

Although Manchester United successfully held off the high-scoring Arsenal side for the first 20 minutes, Casemiro’s mistake led to the opening goal. The 32-year-old’s slow reaction allowed Kai Havertz to remain onside from a United goal-kick, and Trossard capitalized on Casemiro’s blind spot to score from Havertz’s cross.

Despite United’s co-owner Jim Ratcliffe being present at Old Trafford instead of Wembley, where the club’s women secured their first major trophy in the FA Cup final, the team’s challenges were evident. Nonetheless, the majority of the 74,000-strong crowd remained supportive as United intensified their attacks against Arsenal after halftime.

Arsenal, however, managed to defend their lead effectively, securing their sixth clean sheet in their last seven away league matches. While Alejandro Garnacho was lively for United, his best chance to equalize ended with a shot into the side-netting.

Andre Onana’s exceptional saves denied Gabriel Martinelli and Declan Rice, preventing Arsenal from extending their lead and ensuring a tense finale.

As the clock wound down, Arsenal resorted to time-wasting tactics, with Martinelli taking the ball to the corner in the final 10 minutes of the match.

Although Arsenal’s victory put pressure on Manchester City, who face West Ham in their final match after their midweek clash with Arsenal, the visitors did just enough to secure the win.