Jesus' cool finish seals dramatic win for Arsenal

Mikel Arteta hailed Arsenal's "will to win" as they hit Manchester United with an exhilarating late show that will live long in his memory.

In Summary
  • Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta told a vivid account about taking various routes into work every morning to illustrate his belief that every game tells a different story.
Gabriel Jesus
Image: Courtesy Photo

The Gunners' 3-1 win over Manchester United at Emirates Stadium had several plot twists in stoppage time alone, but one central character deserved his top billing as this chaotic game's headline act.

Arteta was reacting to suggestions he had started to over-complicate the strategies that had made Arsenal such impressive title challengers and long-time Premier League leaders last season before they cracked under relentless pressure from Manchester City at the final fences.

What is beyond dispute it that Declan Rice, at £105m from West Ham United, is the game-changing signing Arteta had in mind when he put such time and effort into the pursuit of his top summer transfer priority.

Rice was signed for games like this, moments like this, when Arsenal had been largely frustrated by Manchester United. They even thought they might suffer defeat until the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) ruled substitute Alejandro Garnacho had started his run just too early before scoring what he thought might be the winning goal in the 88th minute.

The 24-year-old Rice had been the game's outstanding performer, bringing composure and order to a game in which both sides seemed riddled with tension, falling short of the standards Arteta and United counterpart Erik ten Hag would normally expect.

Rice then made the decisive contribution deep into added time, lurking unattended at the far post at a corner and beating United keeper Andre Onana at the near one, via a slight but crucial deflection off substitute Jonny Evans.

Gabriel Jesus' solo goal - as a stunned United pushed for an equaliser - was a flourish that eased any late nerves.

But the Arsenal fans knew who the driving force behind this win was.

Big players deliver the big moments to decide the big games. Rice delivered on every level.

A thunderous roar swept around Emirates Stadium before it echoed to the new Rice anthem - a predictably re-worded rendition of Vanilla Ice's hit 'Ice Ice Baby'.

Arsenal certainly needed Rice to make the difference here because, for much of this game, they missed the fluency and pace that saw them set the pace for so long last season before that late collapse.

As for Manchester United, this was a chastening experience after Marcus Rashford gave them a 27th-minute lead only for Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard to equalise seconds later.

There was some hope in a bustling cameo from £72m striker Rasmus Hojlund on his debut, the 20-year-old putting himself about to good effect and suggesting he could be the physical presence and focal point United have sorely missed.

And there was a brutal reminder of their current reduced circumstances when injuries to Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez saw them end up with Harry Maguire, effectively an unwanted outcast under Ten Hag, and the 35-year-old emergency signing Jonny Evans manning the defensive barricades in those crucial closing phases.

The outburst of relief and celebration from Arsenal's fans at the conclusion was in sharp contrast to the despair in the corner of United supporters.

But Rice had shown why the Gunners paid the big bucks and it is certain there will be more installment in future.