Arsenal dents Man Utd's top-four hopes with 3-1 win

Arsenal dealt a blow to Manchester United's hopes of a top-four Premier League finish as Nuno Tavares, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka struck in a 3-1 win on Saturday.

The win lifted Arsenal to fourth place on 60 points, three ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, cementing its hopes for a Champions League spot.   -  REUTERS

Arsenal dealt a blow to Manchester United's hopes of a top-four Premier League finish as Nuno Tavares, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka struck in a 3-1 win on Saturday that revived the home side's chances of Champions League football next season.

Arsenal was rewarded for its blistering early pace as Tavares tapped home in the third minute after United goalkeeper David de Gea pushed away a curling effort by Saka, following some poor defending by the visitor at The Emirates.

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Saka doubled the Gunners' lead from the penalty spot after a foul on the winger in the build-up to a strike by Eddie Nketiah that went in but was ruled out as offside by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

United's sluggish display overshadowed fleeting moments in which it threatened and was another reminder of the challenge facing incoming manager Erik ten Hag, though the visitor got one back as Cristiano Ronaldo swept in Nemanja Matic's cross.

The Portuguese forward's 100th Premier League goal came after a traumatic week personally after the death of one of his newborn twin babies. In a show of support, Arsenal fans gave the United number seven a long round of applause in the seventh minute, as Liverpool fans had done in their midweek fixture which Liverpool win 4-0.

United improved in the second half but its woes deepened as skipper Bruno Fernandes hit the post with a poor effort from the penalty spot following Tavares' handball, before a 70th-minute thunderbolt from Xhaka sealed the win for the Gunners.

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That came after a brilliant save by Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to push Diogo Dalot's shot on to the post - the second time in the game the player hit the woodwork, on a frustrating day for United, which also had a Ronaldo strike ruled out for offside.

The win lifted Arsenal to fourth place on 60 points, three ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur which takes on Brentford later on Saturday. United is sixth, with interim boss Ralf Rangnick facing a tough task in his final four games.

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