Arsenal heat up the Champions League race after a brilliant win against in-form Manchester United
Arsenal beat Manchester United and jumped the Red Devils in the Premier League standings for fourth place with a 2-0 victory on Sunday at the Emirates. The Gunners scored a goal in both halves, with the second coming on a penalty kick, as the team moved to 60 points in the standings. They currently sit two points ahead of United for the final Champions League spot. Granit Xhaka scored 12 minutes in with a knuckleball goal, and then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored from the spot on a controversial call to make it 2-0. United's Romelu Lukaku did hit the crossbar in the first half but couldn't build on his six goals over the last three matches.
The top-four race is far from over, but this sets Arsenal up nicely. Before Sunday, Manchester United had not lost in league play under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the team's last league defeat was nearly three months ago against Liverpool. So this win says something. The Gunners looked like the favorite to win from the early moments. They were lively, they defended well as a team and held United to four shots on goal. After conceding in the last three games, including three goals in the last match against Rennes in Europa League, this result saw the team defend well collectively, slide at the right time to block shots and earn three valuable points.
The penalty was far from a good call after Fred pushed Alexandre Lacazette lightly in the back while going for the ball in the second half, but it did not seem even close to being a penalty. Lacazette went down, and it was called. The call was more than harsh. It was not a dive, but Lacazette did play it up a bit. Fred's arm was not even extended all that much to make it a forceful shove, but Unai Emery's team took advantage of the call and put the game away through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It's not just the Manchester City vs. Liverpool title fight, but this result changes things behind the Premier League's top two teams. It pulls Arsenal to within a point of rival Tottenham for third place, allowing the Gunners to think even further than just settling for fourth. There are just four points between third and sixth, and so much on the line. For now, there's no excuse of playing in European competition. All of the teams are still alive in a European cup, with Tottenham and United in the Champions League, while Arsenal and Chelsea are in the Europa League. Each team's depth is going to be tested, and right now you have to like Arsenal's chances after going two clear of United.