Mikel Arteta admits he was fully aware of Manchester United’s counter-attacking threat before Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United but the Premier League challengers still couldn’t keep Marcus Rashford off the scoresheet.

Erik ten Hag famously said in pre-season that ‘we want to be the best transition team in the world’. And the goal which put his Manchester United side ahead at the Emirates Stadium certainly smacked of such ambitions.

Christian Eriksen intercepted a loose ball before carved open the Arsenal backline like a plump Christmas turkey midway through an otherwise snail-paced first-half, Marcus Rashford racing onto the Dane’s through ball, dancing past Ben White and lashing in off the far post.

Not that the nature of United’s opener caught Arteta by surprise.

Arsenal FC v Manchester United - Premier League
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Marcus Rashford stunner counts for nothing vs Arsenal

“Obviously, we gave them the first goal in a situation that we discussed,” Arteta tells the Arsenal website. “They kill you if you (let them) do that, and we did.”

Just like in January, when Rashford thumped a brilliant finish past Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal responded immediately. It was Eddie Nketiah eight months ago and Martin Odegaard this time around; finishing stylishly seconds after the re-start.

Never has the phrase ‘you’re at your most vulnerable when you’ve just scored’ felt so prescient.

Late, stoppage time finishes from Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus eventually ensured that arguably Man United’s finest performance away to a ‘big six’ side since Ten Hag’s appointment went unrewarded, that narrowly-offside Alejandro Garnacho finish a painful reminder of what might have been.

Ten Hag frustrated

“We have to improve, definitely,” a frustrated Dutchman sighed at full-time. “But you see, and also what we have seen last year, we can beat everyone. It was such small margins today. So it could also have been our side (who won).

“So when Garna (Alejandro Garnacho) is finishing (for the offside goal), it’s a goal that we’re winning this game. So, it’s that close.”

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