One can only begin to imagine what failure to beat Tottenham Hotspur would have meant for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s time in the dugout, with the Norwegian desperately seeking a response from his side’s utter humiliation at the hands of Liverpool.
However, in a game which would ultimately cost his opposite number Nuno Espirito Santo his job, United prevailed comfortably in North London, as strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford set the Red Devils on their way to a 3-0 win.
There were no prizes for guessing who saved Solskjaer’s bacon in the Champions League against Atalanta BC in midweek either, as Ronaldo cancelled out strikes from Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata to rescue a point for this side ahead of Saturday’s derby.
Having managed to pull themselves out of their rut – at least for now – with victory at Spurs, Man United are hanging on to their fifth-placed position in the table after 10 matches, but Arsenal are now only behind Solskjaer’s men on goal difference.
Worryingly for the Old Trafford faithful, United have taken just one point from their last three home games in the Premier League – scoring a solitary goal in that miserable streak – and not since April’s win over Granada have the Red Devils crowd seen their side keep a clean sheet on familiar territory.
One game involving the Manchester clubs last weekend was expected to be a walkover, while the other was tipped to be a tight affair between two managers under immense pressure to deliver a result.
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However, Crystal Palace ripped up the form book to come away from the Etihad with all three points to show for it, as Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher struck either side of Aymeric Laporte’s red card in a memorable 2-0 win for the Eagles.
The reigning Premier League champions were dealt another early blow in their pursuit of a sixth crown in the competition, but Pep Guardiola’s side responded in ideal fashion against Club Brugge in the Champions League, easing to a 4-1 win courtesy of goals from Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez.
Having seen their eight-game unbeaten run in the top flight come to a bitter end, third-placed City are now five points adrift of leaders Chelsea after 10 matches, but they have taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer away from home in the Premier League