Mikel Arteta heeds Arsene Wenger advice as Arsenal take title race to final day

Mikel Arteta heeds Arsene Wenger advice as Arsenal take title race to final day

During his time playing under Arsene Wenger, there were plenty of words of wisdom Mikel Arteta picked up about getting over the line in a title race.

The best advice he ever heard?

“For this time of the season, at the end it is about finding a way to win the game,” Arteta revealed last month. “And that is it.”

No more was that the case than here at Old Trafford, where Arsenal got the result they wanted but not in the manner they desired.

In a scrappy and disjointed affair, Leandro Trossard scored the only goal by capitalising on some woeful defending by Casemiro.

It means Arsenal are back on top of the Premier League, at least until Manchester City travel to Tottenham on Tuesday.

And, whatever happens in that game, this title race will go down to the final day of the season.

For parts of this game, Arteta must have feared that would not be the case.

His side, usually so calm and confident, looked nervous and timid.

Perhaps that was down to the magnitude of this game, which was win or bust for Arsenal. Or perhaps it was because of the Gunners woeful record at Old Trafford.

Before today, they had won just one of their last 16 Premier League games here.

That statistic now reads two in 17 and you always expected it to be that way when the United team was announced before kick-off.

Missing a host of players, including captain Bruno Fernandes, this was a patched-up side. Casemiro and Jonny Evans, torn apart by Crystal Palace on Monday night, were the centre-backs again simply because there was no one else.

And it was Casemiro who allowed Arsenal to leave with all three points.

The Brazilian was slow to push up after United played out from the back and that allowed Kai Havertz to be onside from a through-ball that he had no right to latch onto.

Once clear, the German hit the byline and picked out Trossard and he tucked the ball home after ghosting past Casemiro.

It was Trossard’s sixth goal in 10 games since the start of April and he, more than anyone, has really stepped up to the plate during this run-in.

The Belgian was also one of the few who turned up here at Old Trafford.

Arsenal’s midfield, usually so slick, was clunky, was largely anonymous.

Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard could not get on the ball, while behind them Thomas Partey looked rusty despite this being his fourth start in a row.

In the end, Arsenal relied on their defence to get the job done. Gabriel and William Saliba, as they have been all season, were solid.

The rest of the side never really got going and a United defence that has looked so shaky recently was not tested nearly enough.

If Arteta’s side do, somehow, go on and win the title this result here at Old Trafford will be remembered as a famous victory - the Gunners winning in their rival’s backyard on their way to a first Premier League title in 20 years.

The performance, however, will not live long in the memory.

But, as Wenger said to Arteta, that does not matter at this stage of the season.