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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Old Trafford

Nervy Arsenal hang on for dear life at Old Trafford to take title race to the final day

Manchester United (0) 0

Arsenal (1) 1 Trossard 21

Boy did they make their fans suffer.

In a match that finished in a deluge as the heavens opened at Old Trafford, the Gunners survived a tidal wave of home attacks to claim the rarest of wins at a ground that has been their undoing so often in the past.

Leandro Trossard's goal midway through the first half was just enough to get the job done, but Arsenal were a shadow of their best, inviting disaster with a desperately anxious second half performance. There was only relief at the end, rather than any sense of joy at returning to the top of the table.

They will go into the final day with destiny not in their hands, unless Spurs do them a favour by denying Man City victory on Tuesday, but at least they have taken it to the wire.

The self-anointed Theatre of Dreams has not exactly been a bundle of laughs for the Gunners down the years. Take away the title clinching win courtesy of Sylvan Wiltord's goal in 2002 and the Mark Overmars strike which all-but sealed the title in 1998, this has not been a happy hunting ground.

There had only been one victory in the 16 previous visits - in front of an empty stadium during Covid - and the idea they might roll into town and win comfortably to keep the pressure on Man City was fanciful.

A poor United this may be these days, with injury playing a big part in that, but Arsenal have too often turned to jelly in this corner of the UK. And their wins have all been with 1-0 scorelines, while they have taken some fearful batterings.

This time, at least, the noisy Gunners fans could celebrate a crucial win.

Arsenal started brightly, survived a spurned chance from Rasmus Hojlund - slipping as he went to shoot - and then took the lead to settle some nerves and give a vociferous away following something even more tangible to cheer.

It owed much to the dawdling of Casemiro coming out of defence. Kai Havertz, played onside by the Brazilian, had room to charge down the right because of the extra space and his passed rolled into the middle was tucked away by Trossard, with the minimum of fuss.

Arsenal would surely kick on. Except they didn't. They seemed cagier if anything - sitting back and allowing United to dictate long passages of play that made the game feel like it was on a knife edge.

It needed a brilliantly-timed tackle from the excellent William Saliba to deny an Alejandro Garrnacho in full flight. And when Amad Diallo picked out the Argentinian free on the left again, the winger cut inside before curling wide. It was a warning.

There would be no comfort at 1-0 and the home fans sensed the Gunners' growing angst.

A careless pass out of defence from Ben White gave Antony an invitation to drive into space and fire at David Raya. The warnings kept coming.

Bukayo Saka's careless pass infield was seized upon and Garnacho ended up firing into the side-netting from Scott McTominay's pass. It was all getting too close for comfort.

Rain clouds were gathering. Thunder claps could be heard. The ominous signs kept on coming. Somehow, they did not add up to the catastrophe that seemed on the way.

Gaby Martinelli came on for Trossard and tested Andre Onana's agility. Mikel Arteta's men could have done with that going in to end the agony. Declan Rice also made Onana turn a shot aside. But chances were rare.

The torment was only ever going to be ended by the final whistle.

United: (4-2-3-1) Onana - Dalot, Evans (Kambwala 75), Casemiro, Wan-Bissaka (Forson 87) - McTominay, Amrabat (Eriksen 87) - Diallo (Antony 70), Mainoo, Garnacho - Hojlund (Wheatley 87)

Gunners: (4-3-3) Raya - White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu - Odegaard (Jorginho 90+2), Partey (Kiwior 90+2), Rice - Saka (Jesus 82), Havertz, Trossard (Martinelli 66)

Attendance: 73,600


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