Paul Pogba even claimed in a TV interview that he hoped leaders Manchester City suffered injuries to players – as has happened at United.
But the Reds raced into a two-goal lead in 12 minutes through Antonio Valencia and Jesse Lingard.
And another goal from Lingard sealed a big win to cut City’s lead at the top to five points. David De Gea was magnificent in goal in a thriller which saw United down to 10 men.
Pogba was sent off in the 74th minute for a challenge on Hector Bellerin but Jose Mourinho’s men held on to inflict Arsenal’s first home defeat of the season.
This is usually one of the fiercest contests in the Premier League. That is illustrated by the yellow and red card count BEFORE the kick-off of 144 in the last 15 seasons.
That is higher than when Arsenal have played Tottenham or when United have met City in a Manchester showdown.
This heavyweight clash got off to an explosive start – but courtesy of goals. They were United goals too with two coming in the opening 12 minutes.
Skipper Valencia got the ball rolling, intercepting Laurent Koscielny’s pass before exchanging passes with Pogba.
United’s right wing-back then drove a low right-foot shot through the legs of Gunners keeper Petr Cech.
Manager Mourinho showed no emotion but the United boss was certainly animated when his side scored another early goal.
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