MX23RW : Thursday, March 21 02:17:34

Result: Arsenal beat Manchester United to claim top-four advantage

Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang register as Arsenal beat top-four rivals Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal have defeated Manchester United 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium to inflict a first Premier League defeat on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since he replaced Jose Mourinho in December.

The Gunners picked up the victory through a first-half strike from Granit Xhaka, which David de Gea should have kept out, and a second-half penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Romelu Lukaku wasted a couple of big chances for United either side of Xhaka's goal as United, unbeaten in 12 top-flight matches before today, slipped below their opponents into fifth place.

Arsenal's top-four destiny is not quite in their own hands, though, as Chelsea - held to a 1-1 draw by Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier today - can draw level on points if they win their game in hand against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Granit Xhaka celebrates after opening the scoring for Arsenal in their Premier League meeting with Manchester United on March 9, 2019© Reuters

The Gunners edged in front through their only on-target attempt of the first half as Xhaka's swerving shot somehow found its way past De Gea, who put too much weight on his left leg and was unable to get across to his right.

Either side of that long-range opener United, 3-1 winners here in the FA Cup on their most recent visit less than two months ago, came close as they hit both the crossbar and the post.

Lukaku was guilty of wasting a glorious chance just a couple of minutes before Xhaka made the breakthrough, sending a left-sided cross from Luke Shaw against the crossbar from less than six yards out.

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno was then thankful that the frame of his goal kept out Fred's first-time shot 20 minutes in, with the ball spinning away from the target.

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is denied by Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno on March 10, 2019© Reuters

Presentable opportunities also came and went for Aaron Ramsey and Marcus Rashford at both ends of the field, the former sending a cutback from Ainsley Maitland-Niles over the crossbar.

United were the side on top as the first half edged towards its conclusion as Lukaku, boasting a hat-trick of braces heading into this match, forced Leno to make a save after being slotted through by Rashford.

The visitors were on top for the opening 15 minutes of the second period, only denied a leveller by the quick reactions of Leno as he kept out Lukaku's low shot with his legs.

For all United's probing, however, they were unable to find a way through and the game was put out of their reach with 20 minutes to play.

Alexandre Lacazette raced into the box and went to ground under small contact from Fred, allowing Aubameyang to redeem himself for his North London derby penalty miss by tucking this latest one past De Gea down the middle.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converts from the penalty spot to put Arsenal two goals ahead against Manchester United on March 10, 2019© Reuters

A fan ran onto the field during the celebrations and appeared to shove United defender Chris Smalling, potentially landing Arsenal in hot water with the Football Association.

Some poor defending from Victor Lindelof let Lacazette in moments later, though he pulled his shot wide of the target with just De Gea to beat.

Rashford headed an Ashley Young cross right at Leno from the game's final chance, meaning just a second defeat in 18 matches for United since Solskjaer took over from Mourinho.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are now within a point of bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur thanks to a third home league win in four meetings with the Red Devils.

ARSENAL (4-3-1-2): Leno; Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal; Maitland-Niles, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ozil (Iwobi 77'); Lacazette (Nketiah 86'), Aubameyang (Suarez 80')

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): De Gea; Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw; Dalot (Martial 71'), Fred, Matic (Greenwood 80'), Pogba; Lukaku, Rashford

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Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette celebrates his goal against Southampton in the Premier League on February 24, 2019
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool31237170185276
2Manchester CityMan City30242479215874
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs30201957322561
4Arsenal30186663392460
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd30177658401858
6Chelsea30176750331757
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves30128103836244
8Watford30127114244-243
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham31126134146-542
10Leicester CityLeicester31125144043-341
11Everton31117134342140
12Bournemouth31115154356-1338
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle3198143140-935
14Crystal Palace3096153641-533
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2996143242-1033
16Southampton3079143450-1630
17Burnley3186173559-2430
18Cardiff CityCardiff3084182757-3028
19Fulham3145222970-4117
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield3135231857-3914

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