EPL: 18-yr-old Marcus Rashford's brace gives Manchester United a 3-2 win over Arsenal
Manchester United defeated Arsenal 3-2 at Old Trafford, with 18-yr-old Marcus Rashford grabbing all the headlines as his first half brace gave the Red Devils the advantage. Danny Welbeck scored for Arsenal, but it was Ander Herrera with a deflected winner, as Ozil reduced the deficit for Arsenal.
Louis van Gaal gave a start to Europa League hero Marcus Rashford while also naming Marcus Rojo as a welcome returnee. Arsene Wenger’s major change was upfront as he opted to start with former Red Devil, Danny Welbeck with Theo Walcott up front while Olivier Giroud was benched with Gabriel starting alongside Koscielny in defence.
Manchester United XI: De Gea; Varela, Carrick, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Herrera; Lingard, Mata, Memphis; Rashford
Arsenal XI: Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Coquelin; Welbeck, Ozil, Sanchez; Walcott
While this fixture isn’t as much of a blockbuster as in the past, the two teams started out in a competitive manner, with the tackles flying in right from the start. The pre-game chatter had centered around the striking duo of Rashford and Welbeck, but it was a defender who had the first chance of the game.
It was no surprise to see the creator of that chance, as Mesut Ozil chipped a lovely first-time ball into the path of an overlapping Nacho Monreal, who found himself in a one-on-one with David de Gea, but the left-back’s effort was straight at the Spaniard who had closed down the angles well.
United were howling for a penalty minutes later as Gabriel tripped Rashford just outside the penalty box, but the referee awarded a free kick. However, the Red Devils were screaming for joy in the 29th minute, as Marcus Rashford marked his debut with the opening goal, crashing in a powerful effort with his right foot after Gabriel’s miscued clearance fell to him in the box.
Rashford’s incredible rise continued in the 31st minute, as the United youngster headed home a cross from Jesse Lingard from close range after Arsenal were caught out on the right wing. Old Trafford rose in unmitigated joy to toast their new hero who made it 2-0, scoring in brace inside 2 minutes and 45 seconds.
The Red Devil’s joy was tempered in the 40th minutes, as Arsenal grabbed a goal back from nothing. Mesut Ozil stood over a free-kick and sent in a beautiful ball that found the head of Danny Welbeck in the box, and the former United striker made it 2-1 with a near post header.
Arsenal had a minor shout for a penalty late in first half injury time, as Ramsey’s header from a corner was deflected by Schneiderlin into Rashford, hitting the youngster on the arm, although a penalty award would’ve been harsh. As it was, the Gunners went into the break 2-1 behind to the Red Devils after an eventful first half.
As the Old Trafford faithful made their way back from the break at the start f the second half, the sight Louis van Gaal came on to was a concerning one, as Marcus Rashford was down after a knock on his groin. The striker was able to carry on though, but such fortune evaded Marcus Rojo who came off injured for 18-year-old Timothy Fosu-Mensah in the 55th minute.
Arsenal had more of the ball in the initial stages of the second half but were struggling to create, and were made to pay for their lack of attacking intent in the 65th minute as Ander Herrera made it 3-1 to United. The Spaniard ran on to a square pass from Rashford on the edge of the box, and his curling effort was deflected into the net by Laurent Koscielny with Petr Cech wrong-footed.
Arsenal responded by putting on Olivier Giroud for a woeful Theo Walcott, although it was Mesut Ozil who made a defining contribution in the 69th minute, clawing a goal back for Arsenal. A cross from Sanchez on the right fell to Welbeck in the box, his shot being blocked by De Gea but it rebounded to Ozil who shot into the ground, as the ball looped into the net.
The game’s competitive nature came to the fore in the 71st minute, as Ander Herrera and Aaron Ramsey had an altercation in the Arsenal half, with both teams rushing over to separate the duo. The midfielders both went into the book for their acts of aggression. Meanwhile, Louis van Gaal lightened the mood with his best flopping seal impression as he argued with the fourth official on the touchline.
As the game went into the final minutes, Danny Welbeck came off to applause from both sets of fans as Arsenal sent on Alex Iwobi to change the pattern of the game. However, the Gunners struggled to create anything of note, despite a staggering 5 minutes of added time.
As the final whistle blew, Arsenal slipped to 3rd in the table having suffered a damaging blow to their title chances, while Manchester United toasted their new hero, Marcus Rashford.
Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur beat Swansea 2-1 to show their title credentials.