Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th Premier League goal but it was not enough to stop Arsenal moving into fourth thanks to a 3-1 victory over Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.
Ronaldo, who was starting for the first time since the announcement of the death of his newborn son, scored his landmark goal in the 34th minute as he pulled a goal back for Man Utd after they fell behind following Nuno Tavares’ early goal (3) and Bukayo Saka’s penalty.
Despite trailing, United produced a vastly-improved performance from their 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool in midweek, and they were gifted a penalty of their own early in the second half after Tavares’ inexplicable handball.
However, they failed to take advantage as Bruno Fernandes’ spot-kick hit the outside of the post, and it proved a costly miss as Granit Xhaka produced a thunderbolt of a strike to secure what could be a crucial victory in Arsenal’s bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Despite the win, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists there will still be plenty of ups and downs in the battle to secure Champions League football. “I said this is going to be a rollercoaster,” he said. “The winning and losing in this league is small margins. Today things went our way and we are really happy.”
Victory sees the Gunners move into fourth spot in the Premier League and three points ahead of their north London rivals Tottenham, who travel to Brentford, live on Sky Sports from 5pm this evening (kick-off 5.30pm).
Meanwhile, defeat is a catastrophic blow to Ralf Rangnick’s side’s own hopes of securing Champions League football for next season. United, who announced the appointment of Erik ten Hag as manager for next season on Thursday, are now six points behind the fourth-placed Gunners, having played a game more, and Rangnick admitted after the game that his side’s chances of Champions League football are all but gone.