Arsenal 0 Manchester United 2

Sunday 23 July 2023 00:27

Manchester United's pre-season preparations were stepped up a notch in New Jersey on Saturday, as the Reds beat fellow Premier League contenders Arsenal 2-0 at the MetLife Stadium.

A crowd of 82,262 attended the match - a record figure for an association football match in the state - and witnessed United deliver the best performance of our pre-season programme so far.

Bruno Fernandes, named club captain on Thursday, marked his first appearance of the 2023/24 season with a fine goal to open the scoring, before Jadon Sancho's soaring shot made it two only seven minutes later.

Manager Erik ten Hag changed all 10 outfield players at half-time, but his refreshed team managed the second half well to earn a third consecutive clean sheet. United now move on to San Diego, ahead of further games in the USA against Wrexham, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
Bruno's brilliant opener Video

Bruno's brilliant opener

📽️ MATCH MOMENT | Bruno opens the scoring against Arsenal in sublime style...


Erik ten Hag is always demanding that his United team step it up a gear, no matter how well we've been performing, and the manager would surely admit that this first 45 minutes against the Gunners was a level above what we've seen in the previous two matches during pre-season.

Both teams started feverishly at the MetLife Stadium, perhaps inspired by the huge crowd or the prospect of a tasty game against a proper Premier League rival. Antony scuffed wide at the end of our first serious venture forward, just minutes in, before Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli drew two close-range saves from Tom Heaton, when a goal seemed more likely.

But United soon seized control of the game, once the early pace had settled somewhat, possibly due to the 29-degree heat in East Rutherford. As our grip on the contest strengthened, Kobbie Mainoo again impressed at the heart of midfield, and it was the youngster who provided the preliminary touch before Fernandes's opener, which arrived just before the half-hour mark.

The Portuguese midfielder received the ball from Mainoo in the inside-right position, around 20 yards out, and rifled a low, left-footed shot through the grasping hands of Gunners goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale. Six minutes later it was two. A mistake from Arsenal centre-back Gabriel allowed Sancho to race on to a loose ball behind the Londoners' back line, and the Croydon-born forward made no error with a rollicking finish that flew high into Ramsdale's net. The half wound down with United comfortable in possession all over the pitch, and Antony went fairly close to a third with a trademark curler from the right side of the Arsenal box.

United's much changed second-half XI, with only Tom Heaton remaining, perhaps offered Arsenal some encouragement to get back into the game. But the Gunners were unable to raise any real alarm in United's new-look back four, with Victor Lindelof especially impressive via a series of tackles and interceptions.

Nketiah should have hit the target after Odegaard's clever, quickly taken free-kick, and Kai Havertz tamely headed over from inside the penalty area. However, United's only serious cause for anguish was an early enforced substitution for Amad, who left the field around the hour due to what appeared to be a blow to his left ankle.

Marcus Rashford failed to connect with a Diogo Dalot ball across an open Arsenal goal shortly after, but the local hero would surely have been flagged offside had he managed to make proper contact. Pellistri then fired over in the closing stages after finding some space down the right.

But United held on with plenty of comfort, banking another positive 90 minutes to take towards the start of that all-important Premier League season. Mind you, that wasn't the end of the entertainment in New Jersey, with both managers having agreed, pre-match, to a post-game penalty shootout. The aim was to expose the players to the experience of taking penalties in front of a large crowd - a more intense challenge than taking endless spot-kicks on the training pitch.

United prevailed 5-3 thanks to flawless strikes from Casemiro, Dalot, Lindelof, Rashford and Eriksen, with Fabio Vieira's skied effort proving Arsenal's decisive failure.
Sancho doubles our lead Video

Sancho doubles our lead

📽️ MATCH MOMENT | Jadon Sancho races clear and gives the goalkeeper no chance to make it 2-0 to the Reds...


United head west to San Diego on Sunday (23 July) ahead of another sold-out match, against AFC Wrexham, on Tuesday 25 July (19:30 local time). A youthful Reds XI will take on the Welsh club as part of the Snapdragon Cup, with kick-off scheduled for 03:30 BST on Wednesday 26 July for those fans watching in the United Kingdom.

A day later, a more senior team is expected to take on Real Madrid in Houston, before we round off the USA section of our pre-season tour with a game against Borussia Dortmund in Las Vegas on Sunday 30 July.

United sell out first two Tour 2023 matches in USA


The last remaining tickets for our matches in Houston and Las Vegas now on general sale.

Arsenal: Ramsdale; Timber (White 58), Saliba (Jorginho 72), Gabriel, Tomiyasu (Tierney 46); Odegaard, Rice (Partey 58), Havertz (Vieira 72); Saka (Trossard 72), Nketiah (Smith-Rowe 72), Martinelli (Jesus 58).

Subs not used: Runarsson, Kiwior, Holding, Balogun, Marquinhos, Hein, Trusty, Cozier-Duberry.

United: Heaton; Wan-Bissaka (Dalot HT), Varane (Lindelof HT), Martinez (Maguire HT), Shaw (Williams HT); Mainoo (Casemiro HT), Mount (Eriksen HT); Antony (Amad HT, Pellistri 59), Fernandes (McTominay HT) Garnacho (Rashford HT); Sancho (Forson HT). 

Subs not used: Bishop, Vitek, Fernandez, Gore, Hannibal, Van de Beek.

Scorers: Fernandes 30, Sancho 37.

Attendance: 82,262