London: Last-gasp wins helped to fuel Arsenal’s unlikely title challenge in the Premier League last season.
Maybe it’s happening again.
Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus both scored deep into stoppage time for Arsenal in its 3-1 win over Manchester United that had the Emirates Stadium rocking again Sunday.
United knows that feeling all too well, having conceded a decisive goal in the 90th minute in the same ground last season. There were many others — remember Reiss Nelson’s winner against Bournemouth in the seventh minute of added-on time? — and late flourishes are starting to become a habit for Mikel Arteta’s team.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard, the team’s other scorer.
Liverpool, on the other hand, got its business done early against Aston Villa with a 3-0 win at Anfield.
Two goals in the opening 22 minutes preceded another strike by Mohamed Salah amid so much speculation about his future following a mega-money offer from Saudi Arabia.
Maybe Liverpool, which has won three straight matches and is still unbeaten, can join Arsenal in being the main rivals for defending champion Manchester City, like it has so many times in Pep Guardiola’s time in England.
Heading into the two-week break for internationals, City is on a maximum 12 points — two points above Arsenal and Liverpool. Tottenham and West Ham also have 10 points.
United, meanwhile, has won two and lost two so far in an inconsistent start that mirrors its performance against Arsenal. There was a lively debut, as a substitute, from offseason signing Rasmus Hojlund but more sloppy defending that manager Erik ten Hag needs to fix, especially away from home.
Marcus Rashford put United ahead on a counterattack, but Odegaard replied almost immediately before Rice scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time and then Jesus five minutes later.
United substitute Alejandro Garnacho had a goal disallowed for a narrow offside in the 88th minute, when the score was 1-1.
“We did well, we make progress, stick to the plan and believe and in the future we will win games like this,” Ten Hag said.
Rice was signed for in excess of 100 million pounds ($125 million) to help Arsenal close the gap on City, the European champion which is seeking an unprecedented fourth straight top-flight title in England.
The England midfielder is already making a difference and appears to have developed the right mentality, too, since joining from West Ham. He insisted City cannot be given too much of a lead, given how well Guardiola’s team finishes title races.
“City have four wins from four,” Rice said. “Five points behind them would have been a massive margin.”
Salah again underlined his importance to Liverpool with a strong display against Villa, two days after being the subject of a reported verbal offer totaling 150 million pounds ($188 million) by Saudi team Al-Ittihad.
Liverpool rejected that, saying the 31-year-old Salah was not for sale, and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said that stance would not waver.
“Mo didn’t look for a second like he thought about anything else other than about Aston Villa, being involved in all the goals,” Klopp said
“He has unbelievable numbers but it’s not a surprise that he has the numbers. And he had chances on top of that and (is) involved in creating and setting up and all these kind of things. He’s a world-class player, no doubt about that and I’m really pleased he is in my team.”
Dominik Szoboszlai, who scored Liverpool’s third-minute opener, said he wanted Salah to stay.
“We are of course speaking between each other but he wants to stay, he wants to be here and be with us,” the Hungary captain said. “We are really happy — we need people in the team like him.”
The only downside to the afternoon for Liverpool was a hamstring injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold that is likely to rule him out of England duty in the coming international break.
PALACE BEATS WOLVES
Crystal Palace beat Wolverhampton 3-2 in the other game as two teams known for being low scorers served up an unlikely treat.
Odsonne Edouard scored twice for Palace and Eberechi Eze grabbed the other in the team’s second victory in the league this season.
Wolves made it 1-1 through substitute Hwang Hee-chan and had a consolation from Matheus Cunha in its third loss so far this campaign.
The sides had netted just four goals between them in three rounds coming into the match.