Granit Xhaka and a penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave Arsenal a 2-0 win over Manchester United to go fourth in the Premier League
After the low point of Rennes Arsenal reacquainted themselves with the winning feeling. After the euphoria of Paris Manchester United tasted Premier League defeat for the first time under Ole Gunnar Solskjr. This topsy-turvy season continues to confound and, as the dust settled, the fight for third and fourth places in the top-flight table could not be more tantalisingly poised.
Arsenal had been abject in the 3-1 defeat in France on Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League last 16 but they found a way to maintain their imposing form at the Emirates Stadium. It was not a vintage display but one in which they laboured for clear-cut chances and were grateful, at times, to the goalkeeper, Bernd Leno. But a Granit Xhaka goal assisted by a rare David de Gea misjudgment and a generously awarded Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty were enough to lift them above United into fourth place.
Arsenal are now one point behind third-placed Tottenham and, to paraphrase their supporters in stoppage time, they are coming for their local rivals. Their run-in features no more fixtures against teams from the top six but five away matches none of which look straightforward. Arsenal have won only five times away from home in the league this season. Their fate will surely be determined on the road and it is anybodys guess which Arsenal will show up on those occasions.
The stain on the afternoon was provided by the fan who ran on to the pitch after Aubameyangs penalty conversion to celebrate with the Arsenal striker. As he sprinted past the United defender Chris Smalling, he appeared to shove him and it was one of those moments when one wondered what was going through the mans head (probably not very much) and was thankful that nothing serious happened.
United had arrived fresh from their 3-1 Champions League miracle at Paris St-Germain, which got them into the quarter-finals and boasting a record of nine away wins from nine matches in all competitions under Solskjr. They created the chances to have taken something here but they were strangely out of sync in front of goal. As a former striker, Solskjr knows it can happen. That said, his team specifically Romelu Lukaku and Fred were unlucky to be kept out twice by the woodwork.
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