Manchester United 0 Arsenal 1: Title race still alive, Trossard key again, Casemiro at fault

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League by beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford with just one match remaining for Mikel Arteta's side this season.

Leandro Trossard scored an important goal from close range after a pass from Kai Havertz. It now means the title race will go down to the final day with Manchester City – who are one point behind Arsenal on 85 – playing their game against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, United are eighth on 54 points, three points behind Chelsea and Newcastle United with two games remaining.

Carl Anka, James McNicholas and Liam Thurmey break down the game's key talking points…

Trossard comes to the fore again when it counts

Neither Gabriel Jesus nor Gabriel Martinelli have been as effective in front of goal as expected this season, with only 10 league goals between them. Luckily, someone else has stepped up: Trossard. He scored his 12th Premier League goal of the season – his 17th in all competitions.

His form saw him displace Martinelli as first-choice on the left wing, and he justified Arteta's faith at Old Trafford with another important contribution. Trossard is certainly the most natural finisher in the Arsenal team and has a habit of creating big moments even when he appears on the periphery of the game.

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Generally, Trossard scoring has been a positive omen for Arsenal. Heading into this game, Arsenal had won their last nine Premier League games when the Belgian had scored and had not lost in the last dozen games in which he had found the net.

James McNicholas

It was a week to forget for Casemiro. The 32-year-old was beaten and threatened by Crystal Palace players in Monday's 4-0 defeat, before being left out of the Brazil squad for the 2024 Copa America on Friday.

The formerly powerful defensive midfielder has struggled all season for United as injuries, tactical adjustments and other adversities have left him a shadow of his former form.

This is not the Casemiro who was a controlled frenzy of a man, patrolling Real Madrid's midfield on the way to winning five Champions League titles. This is not the man who beat Marcel Sabitzer in February 2023, knowing few Premier League attackers could beat him.

This season's Casemiro has been slow to recognize the dangers of football And Inexperienced while reacting to them. Arsenal's opener in the 20th minute saw Casemiro – who was again moonlighting at centre-back – stray off the byline when Andre Onana attempted a short goal kick.

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Arsenal's aggressive counter-press quickly recovered the ball, but by the time Havertz came into space on the right, Casemiro had barely got past Onana on the edge of the penalty area.

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Instead of sprinting at top speed to join up with his teammates and possibly trip an offside trap, Casemiro passed without any urgency.

Havertz's pass found Trossard at the near post and Arsenal found themselves a goal up. Whatever (reasonably) good work United had done up to that point was gone. As Gary Neville said in commentary for Sky Sports: “This is a fundamental error. You have to get up early, and he goes out. There is no excuse for that.”

What Eric ten Hag's side gained from Casemiro's long passing from deep (he almost set up Rasmus Hjolund with an over the top pass in the opening 10 minutes of the game) was balanced by everything else.

Casemiro is not a centre-back – nor would he, or anyone associated with United, have gone into the season expecting to play there in case of an injury emergency. However, at a time when Ten Hag needs big performances from their most experienced players, Casemiro keeps making small mistakes.

carl anka

Saliba and He tackle

What is the biggest difference between Arsenal this time last year and Arsenal now?

Some possible answers are: Declan Rice, with a growing sense of maturity, is becoming more consistent with City striking rather than maintaining leads. But the biggest thing may be the availability of William Saliba.

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Saliba was relentless for Arsenal (Stuart McFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The centre-back's value to Arsenal was shown during the second half when he made a brilliant tackle on Alejandro Garnacho. With the Argentina international flailing, Saliba pulled back before taking the lead at the right moment. If tackle could be a thing of beauty, this was certainly it.

During last season's run, Arsenal lacked composure. Saliba is its symbol. In a game in which Arsenal were some way short of their best, they could still rely on the 23-year-old to keep United close.

James McNicholas

an arsenal of options

“We know the difficulty and the history,” Arteta said before the match about the ground where Arsenal had won only four times in 31 Premier League visits.

Injury-hit United team or not, it was a professional performance compared to the way they failed and paled against Bayern Munich and Porto in the Champions League. Arsenal started the game late, forcing United to try to play through a compact mid-block, then scoring a sucker-punch goal.

There were some heroics in Arsenal's own box – notably Saliba's tackle (as described above) – but it took over 67 minutes for United to register a shot on target.

Arsenal showed their different faces throughout, pushing United back by occupying possession upfield at the start of the second half, applying aggressive counter-pressing to win it back as quickly as they lost it. There was also some clever build-up using Havertz as a false nine and wingers running inside him, and at the other end of the tactical spectrum wingers defending deep into a back six.

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The rest of Arsenal's defense is the most underrated weapon in the title race

Never mind only their second Old Trafford Premier League win since 2007, Arsenal have scored 42 points, 13 wins, 11 clean sheets and only 13 goals in away Premier League games in 2023–24 – on the road since 2003. His best season. 04 Invincible…

Liam Thurmey

Any scraps of relief for United?

The past few weeks have seen Ten Hag struggle to express the impact injuries have had on United's season. The Dutchman had ambitions to turn United into a transition-based team, but several illnesses left him unable to field his best eleven for large parts of the season.

At the start of the game, Ten Hag had gone through 14 different centre-back combinations this season. For comparison, Arsenal used three.

United are a low-confidence team and lack a familiar passing rhythm – as seen in the second half, which saw many inaccurate passes from United's players in the final third, with individuals not knowing where to go and those What to do in the rare moments when they had possession. In dangerous areas.

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If there are some pieces of comfort, they will likely be in United's midfield balance.

Sofiane Amrabat was given a rare start in central midfield and was tasked with collecting the ball from United's centre-backs during the build-up. The Moroccan will also sit next to Koby Manu when the team does not have the ball, creating a simple but not always visible screen ahead of the front four.

United were not the ones to produce the inconsistent and often inconsistent pressing in the past against Arsenal, instead sticking to a more 4-4-2 shape than usual when their rivals were looking to regain possession.

Amad – who had to be substituted with an impact injury in the 70th minute – looked somewhat dangerous when progressing the ball into attacking areas. It may have been his first Premier League start, but he has quickly made a case for getting more game time soon (health permitting.)

carl anka

What did the managers say?

We'll bring you this after both Ten Hag and Arteta speak at the post-match press conference.

What next for Arsenal? (…supporting the Spurs?)

Sunday, May 19: Everton (H), Premier League, 4pm UK, 11am ET

After Manchester City fans watched the game hoping for a United win, Arsenal supporters will face the unexpected prospect of supporting Spurs when they host City on Tuesday night. Arsenal know they need help from elsewhere if they are to win this title.

Arteta's side will then face Everton at the Emirates, to whom they have lost only twice at home in the Premier League era (31 matches), winning 24 and drawing five.

What next for Manchester United?

Wednesday, May 15: Newcastle United (H), Premier League, 8pm UK, 3pm ET

Newcastle have only had one league win at Old Trafford since 1972, a history tied with Manchester United. Nevertheless, Eddie Howe's Newcastle defeated United 3–0 in the Carabao Cup in November.

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(Top photo: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

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