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Manchester United vs Arsenal final score: Three things we learned

Manchester United emerged with three points in a five-goal thriller against Arsenal, as Cristiano Ronaldo's brace inspired the Red Devils to a comeback win.

Manchester United vs Arsenal: The Red Devils battled back from an early deficit, led by two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and another from Bruno Fernandes, for a 3-2 win over the Gunners at Old Trafford on Thursday.

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Ronaldo’s first goal took his career tally (club and international) to 800. He added goal no. 801, and the winner, midway through the second half.

The victory sends Manchester United into 7th place in the Premier League table, three points back of 4th-place West Ham United. Arsenal, remain 5th, though Tottenham moved three points closer to them earlier on Thursday.

Manchester United vs Arsenal final score, stats, results

Final score: Manchester United 3, Arsenal 2

Goal scorers: Manchester United (Fernandes 44'), Arsenal (Smith Rowe 13')

Shots: Manchester United 14, Arsenal 17

Shots on target: Manchester United 10, Arsenal 8

Possession: Manchester United 49%, Arsenal 51%

3 things we learned - Manchester United vs Arsenal

1. Team spirit drags Man United over the line: There wasn’t much to love about that performance — from either side, but especially the winners — other than the fact that Manchester United battled in a way they haven’t often done in recent years. Sure, it came against similarly floundering opposition closer to mid-table than title contention, but this was a game that very recent iterations of Manchester United would have lost in agonizing fashion. There are, in fact, some positive signs coming out of Old Trafford. There is something for Ralf Rangnick to work with when he assumes first-team control later this week.

2. Rangnick can’t start soon enough: That’s not necessarily a critique of Michael Carrick, caretaker manager, as an observation that the Manchester United squad is currently caught between the ideas of three different managers — the past, the present and the future bosses. The personnel chosen by Carrick was quite similar to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s preferred selection, but the tactics appeared to favor Rangnick’s more aggressive pressing style. Unsurprisingly, it looked a real mess on the field at Old Trafford.

3. Arsenal full backs torn to pieces: Nuno Tavares and Takehiro Tomiyasu deserve a bit of patience after only arriving in the Premier League this summer. That said, it was clear as day where Arsenal’s defense was weakest, and Manchester United exploited it nonstop for 90 minutes. Tomiyasu struggled in possession, and Tavares was consistently out of position and sprinting toward his own goal defensively.

Man of the Match: Bruno Fernandes - Not only did he snap his 15-game goal drought in the 44th minute, but his fingerprints were all over Man United’s best attacks — finally looking like the player who took the Premier League by storm a season ago.

Manchester United vs Arsenal highlights

Emile Smith Rowe volley puts Arsenal ahead in bizarre fashion (goal video)

Initially, Smith Rowe’s opportunistic volley was waved away by referee Martin Atkinson. However, following lengthy treatment to David de Gea, the goal was given after the VAR informed Atkinson that it was Manchester United midfielder Fred who had raked his studs down the ankle and foot of his own teammate. Common sense prevailed.

Bruno Fernandes pokes it past Ramsdale to end goal drought (video)

Fred’s cross was right where it needed to be after Fernandes briefly halted his run into the penalty area to create the pocket of space.

[ VIDEO: PL highlights ]

Cristiano Ronaldo slots home to take the lead (goal video)

Manchester United went ahead through a piece of quick counter-attacking that suited them quite well. The ball was won back at midfield, and three touches later it was on its way to the penalty spot, where Ronaldo was waiting.

Martin Odegaard beats De Gea to pull Arsenal level (goal video)

Gabriel Martinelli found Odegaard in front of goal, where he still had plenty of work to do to guide the ball past De Gea. Manchester United’s lead lasted all of two minutes.

Cristiano Ronaldo converts penalty kick for 3-2 (goal video)

Odegaard went through the back of Fred’s legs as he received the ball inside the penalty area, and despite Atkinson’s initial refusal to blow the whistle, a very quick video review took care of that.

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