Arsenal re-established a five-point lead at the Premier League summit after Eddie Nketiah’s inventive late finish snatched a 3-2 win over unlikely title hopefuls Manchester United. Nketiah had earlier equalised after Marcus Rashford’s brilliant opener, while Bukayo Saka put the Gunners ahead for the first time in the second half before Lisandro Martinez levelled with a looping

Eddie Nketiah’s last-minute winner earned Arsenal a crucial 3-2 win over Manchester United in a high-tempo, high-octane, high-quality encounter at the Emirates.

Marcus Rashford put United in front before Eddie Nketiah equalised, then Lisandro Martinez responded when Bukayo Saka’s fine goal gave Arsenal the lead. But Nketiah struck to send Arsenal five points clear of Manchester City with a game in hand. United sit third, a further six points behind.

Arsenal started as quickly as ever, but United hung in there well before gradually forcing their way into the game. And, on 17 minutes, they took the lead with a sensational finish from Rashford who robbed Thomas Partey, exchanged passes with Bruno Fernandes, then tricked Partey and rinsed a fine, low finish into the corner from 20 yards.

Arsenal, though, continued pressing United high up the pitch and, when David De Gea went short to Aaron Wan-Bissaka, won a corner that led, eventually, to Granit Xhaka coaxing a lush cross onto Nketiah’s forehead while Wan-Bissaka pondered the ultimate futility of existence. 1-1.

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After the break, Arsenal again began quickly, and on 53 minutes, Saka curled home a delicious low finish from 20 yards. But United immediately stepped it up, Martinez heading home his first goal for the club shortly afterwards.

The home side threw everything at their opponents in search of a winner, and Nketiah struck late to earn his side a win in arguably the best game of the season so far. It will not be the last classic match between these two young, improving sides, but at the moment it is Arsenal who are title contenders while United still have work to do.

For the second time in a week, Manchester United conceded a late goal that cost them dearly. Against Palace, they were victims of their own carefulness, opting to sit on a one-goal lead and getting caught with a worldie, but against Arsenal and in the absence of Casemiro, they were ultimately overrun in midfield and the pressure exerted on their defence told.

Which is to say that, for the first time in a generation, there is a belief about Arsenal, who did not panic after going behind nor when conceding an equaliser just minutes after taking the lead. Rather, they pinned United back inside their own box, forcing their line deeper and deeper while continuing to play their football rather than toss aimless balls into the middle.

Then, when the opportunity presented itself, Oleksandr Zinchenko stayed calm to pick out Eddie Nketiah, who once again showed the chops of a natural-born goalscorer, doing what it took to unite ball with net. There’s a long way to go, but Arsenal have the look of potential champions.