Saturday’s clash between aspiring Champions League starters saw Arsenal emerge victorious and Manchester United’s campaign brought to an end.

It was a game filled with drama and controversy over the VAR, as well as an emotional return by star forward Cristiano Ronaldo following the death of his baby boy.

The Gunners overcame the Red Devils in a 3-1 scoreline with Arsenal Portuguese full-back Nuno Tavares scoring the opening goal of the game in just the second minute.

The North London club defence has conceded eight goals in four league games, most coming due to defensive mistakes and a lack of concentration from this young side.

Former captain Granit Xhaka emphasised his team’s need to develop mental resilience in-game and not concede cheap goals.

“It’s not the first time, we score and concede straight away the goal, it was [the] same against Chelsea twice after five minutes and then after three minutes as well,” he said.

“We have to be more clever to keep the [ball] the first five to 10 minutes and be more strong mentally and not be somewhere. They missed the penalty; it happens a lot of course and at 3-1 the game was finished.”

Arsenal and Manchester United fans put aside their hostilities in the seventh minute to show support for Ronaldo who lost his newborn baby boy during the week.

Both teams came into the game with a dreadful couple of weeks, however Arsenal had a surprising win against the European champions and local rival Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, while Manchester United was played off the park by Liverpool at Anfield mid-week.

Arsenal came into this fixture unbeaten in their last three Premier League home game against Manchester United, however, their previous game at Old Trafford ended in a 3-2 win for the Manchester side.

United legend Paul Scholes criticised the officiating in the game as well as most United fans online who argued every decision went against their team.

(It was) a game where we were more efficient in the boxes, a game where we had luck when we needed luck.

“The VAR official today has had it tricky, I don’t know how he has seen that,” said Scholes in the post match review. “How he can’t see (Eddie) Nketiah at least four or five yards offside and is directly in line with (David) De Gea.

“You might see in a minute the shot where De Gea, it shows, looking around the other side of him. There is no way in the world he could possibly get to the ball with Eddie in the way.”

The London side stitched together a good passing move which Nketiah converted but was cancelled out for being offside. In the same run of play United’s Alex Telles fouled Arsenal’s Bakayo Saka in the penalty box, which he scored in the 32nd minute extending the home team lead to two.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta described the win as an important step towards European qualification.

“It was a big performance in a game that had everything, we had moments where we showed real quality, two goals created, chances.,” said Arteta.

“A game where we had to suffer, a game where we looked lost and lacking energy and they were on top.

“A game where we were more efficient in the boxes, a game where we had luck when we needed luck which is very important in this game, but overall, extremely happy, it was a massive game for us.”

Games against these two faded rivals trying to get back on their feet never fail to disappoint with this game consisting of penalty decisions for both teams given and not, potential red card challenges, tempers flaring, VAR drama, wrestling matches and most notably terrible defending.

With everything that was going on Ronaldo scored in the 34th minute – his 100th Premier League goal – giving a lacklustre United side a glimpse to salvage a point or three and keep alive the chance to qualify for the Champions League.

Manchester United goalkeeper De Gea put in another outstanding performance and without him in between the posts, his team would have conceded more goals.

United defender Harry Maguire was left on the bench due to both poor form in previous fixtures as well as death threats the Englishman received during the week, stating “he had 72 hours to quit Manchester United or face the possibility of bombing his home” where he, his partner and children live.

Japanese international Takehiro Tomiyasu made a brief appearance in the game after being sidelined due to successive calf injuries that have kept him out of action for four months now.

United had a couple of chances in the game with the best ones falling to their full-back Diogo Dalot who hit the post twice, while Ronaldo’s second goal was ruled out by VAR and United’s best opportunity to equalise in the game was missed by Bruno Fernandes with a penalty kick in the 57th minute.

Arsenal scored their third goal in the 70th minute courtesy of Xhaka, who hit a rocket outside the box catching De Gea by surprise and taking the game away from United.

Arsenal will be travelling to London rivals West Ham on May 2 with both hoping to solidify their European qualifications while United will be hosting another rival, Chelsea, at Old Trafford on Friday (April 29) which will be a fascinating fixture for neutrals but nail-biting for those that support both teams.

Main image: Screenshot courtesy Optus Sports.