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Arsenals character title challenge pass another hugtest with

Arsenals character, title challenge pass another huge test with big win vs. Man United

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Arsenals character, title challenge pass another huge test with big win vs. Man United

Hislop admits he was wrong to underestimate Arsenals Nketiah (1:08)

Shaka Hislop eats his words after Eddie Nketiah strikes twice against Manchester United. (1:08)

Eddie Nketiahs 90th-minute winner sealeda dramatic 3-2 winagainstManchester UnitedasArsenaltook a huge step towards winning the clubs first Premier League title since 2004.

In a pulsating game at the Emirates, both sides traded the lead beforeLisandro Martinezs equaliser in the second half for United appeared to send the clash towards a draw. But Nketiah, who cancelled outMarcus Rashfords opener with a first-half header, claimed victory for Arsenal in the final minute to keep the Gunners five points clear ofManchester Cityat the top of the table.

Here are some quick thoughts about Sundays standout Premier League fixture.

January was supposed to be the acid test of Arsenals surprise challenge for the Premier League title, but Mikel Artetas team keep on proving the doubters wrong with big results and none will be more significant than this 3-2 win against Manchester United.

The Gunners were held by Newcastle at the start of the month, but won at Tottenham last week before avenging their only defeat of the season so far against United. And in beating United, Arsenal displayed the qualities of champions. They fought back from conceding an early goal, went on to take the lead and then scored a late winner after the visitors had made it 2-2 midway through the second-half.

Arsenal have yet to play champions Manchester City this season, so the clash against a resurgent United was the biggest test of Artetas team. And they answered all the questions asked of them to beat Erik ten Hags side.

Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal shrugged off a 1-0 deficit to come out 3-2 winners in a gripping game at the Emirates.

Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Arsenal are now at the halfway stage of the season and have amassed 50 points from 19 games. Even if they drop off from that incredible pace in the second half of the season, they will still finish the campaign with a huge points total; the pressure is on City to reel them in, but this Arsenal side is playing without fear and nerves.

Both may come, of course, but right now they are showing the same kind of carefree form that propelled Leicester to the title in 2016. And unless City can beat them in their first league meeting next month, it will become increasingly difficult to see how anyone can stop Arsenal winning the title.

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Wout Weghorstis not the answer to Manchester Uniteds goalscoring problems, but he is certainly giving Erik ten Hags team something different up front. TheNetherlandsinternational, on loan from Burnley until the end of the season, has been brought in to bolster Uniteds attacking options followingCristiano Ronaldos mutually-agreed departure in November.

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WithAnthony Martialstill sidelined with a hamstring injury, the 6ft 6ins Weghorst started his second successive game at the Emirates and, just as on his debut atCrystal Palace, he didnt threaten the opposition goal. But Weghorst has made United more direct and given them the option to hit the ball long when needed. It would be wrong to suggest that he is merely a target man, though.

Weghorst is good with his feet and he linked played well with his attacking teammates and also drew players to mark him whenever the ball was in the air, freeing space for the likes of Marcus Rashford andAntony. He also has a much greater work ethic than Martial and is prepared to endlessly press the opposition defence. But ultimately, he is limited in his ability to beat his marker and opponents know that they can keep Weghorst at bay fairly easily.

United have the lowest goal tally in the top six and right now, theyre being rescued by Rashfords goals time and time again. That wont continue forever, so they need to be more potent. Weghorst gives them another option, but he wont score enough goals to make United serious title contenders.

Weghorst certainly adds something to the United attack, but hell need to start contributing goals to take some pressure off Rashford.

James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

3. Arsenal have a right-back problem

Mikel Arteta has worked wonders to turn Arsenal into title challengers, but his team still has flaws and nowhere more than at right-back.

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Ben Whitewas awful in the first half and completely failed to make life difficult for Rashford. He was also outdone more than once byBruno Fernandesas United repeatedly attacked down their left-hand side.

The former Brighton defender is primarily a centre-half, but has operated at right-back throughout this season becauseGabrielandWilliam Salibahave been so impressive in the middle of the Arsenal defence. White is simply not equipped to play at right-back. He thinks like a centre-back and it means he often makes the wrong decisions.

Arteta substituted White at half-time -- it may have been an injury, but there was no indication of that -- and replaced him withTakehiro Tomiyasu, but theJapandefender was no better than his team-mate and arguably even worse.

Obviously, being asked to defend against Rashford in this kind of form is tough for any player, but there are other great wide players in the Premier League and Arsenal will face them during the battle for the title.

To avoid their clear weakness being targeted, Arteta needs to find a solution -- and fast.

Eddie Nketiah, FW, Arsenal:Hes proving to be much more than merely a stand-in for the injuredGabriel Jesus. Great goal to equalise in the first-half and was in the right place at the right time to score the winner.

Lisandro Martinez, DF, Man United:Rejected a move to Arsenal to sign for United last summer and Erik ten Hag will be delighted with theArgentinadefenders performances. This was one of his best, with a goal too.

Bukayo Saka, FW, Arsenal:Scored an outstanding goal and then hit the post when trying to do the same again. United had no answer to the Arsenal winger.

Ben White, DF, Arsenal:The Arsenal right-back was turned inside and out by Rashford and lacked conviction in too many challenges. A real weak-link in the Gunners team.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, DF, Man United:Lost Nketiah at the far post for Arsenals equaliser and unreliable when he had possession. Like White with Arsenal, Wan Bissaka just wasnt up to the job.

Antony, FW, Man United:Another game without any kind of positive impact by Uniteds 85 million summer signing. All left foot and not quick enough to go past his defender... what does he actually do?

Rashfords sparkling form must be noted, especially as he opened the scoring on Sunday with a brilliant, thundering effort from distance to beatAaron Ramsdale.


However, after a brilliant back-and-forth game, up stepped Nketiah with the decisive moment in the 90th minute.

Eddie Nketiah comes through in a MASSIVE way.

It was a great game with a lot of tempo and the audience is the big winner. Two top teams, but of course we are disappointed when you lose this game at a late stage. All the goals we conceded today are mistakes: it cant happen. Even last week, we were so hard to beat in such situations. Today we were not. All three goals, we could have avoided.

They are very good on the ball, but we are a good defending team. There were not a lot of open chances. We made mistakes which we cannot make. This game was decided by small details but also the decision making. That is hard to accept and we have to learn from it... I want to win. It is not good enough. We want to be the number one but not if we make mistakes. That is clear and what I told them.-- Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag speaking to BBC Sport

- Emotional, a lot of passion. It doesnt get much better than that. The second half especially, the performance was incredible. We were composed and determined at the same time. We never panicked. We always believed that we could win it. We showed the right composure in the box a lot of times but the ball didnt go in. Thankfully at the end it did.

Its great and we deserve where we are because of how were playing. But there are a lot of things that we can do much better.-- Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, speaking to Sky Sports

restores 5-point lead over Manchester City in Premier League standings; 63% chance to win Premier League per FiveThirtyEights Soccer Power Index

Nine goals in nine games in all competitions since the post-WC restart; that is more than he scored in 19 games pre-World Cup (8) for Manchester United this season; Rashfords 9 post-restart goals in all competitions are the most among players in Europes top 5 leagues

scored in 3 straight Premier League games vs. Man United, joins Arsenal legends Freddie Ljungberg (1998-2000) & Thierry Henry (2000-01) as the only Arsenal players to score in 3 straight PL apps vs Man United.

Arsenal:It doesnt get any easier for the Gunners after Sundays hard-fought win. First they face a trip to Manchester City on Friday (Jan. 27) for an FA Cup fourth round clash, followed by strugglingEvertonaway on Feb. 4 in the Premier League.

Manchester United:Thanks to Uniteds progress in the Carabao Cup, they face a busy fortnight of games in several competitions. After a Jan. 25 visit toNottingham Forest(Carabao Cup semifinal, first leg), they host Reading (FA Cup, fourth round) on Jan. 28 before the return leg of their semifinal with Forest on Feb. 1. From there, just a couple of days rest before their next league clash, a home game vs. Crystal Palace, on Feb. 4. Its exhausting to type, let alone play in.