A debut goal from Antony -- in his debut appearance for Man United after his transfer from Ajax days earlier -- punctuated a confident win for the Red Devils, their fourth in a row.
Not to be outdone, Marcus Rashford scored twice, canceling out a goal from Arsenal's Bukayo Saka. (A would-be goal from Gabriel Martinelli inside 14 minutes of the match was waived off for a foul in the lead-up.)
1. Man United end Arsenal's winning run and extend their own
In the aftermath of the 4-0 defeat to Brentford, it was hard to imagine Manchester United would win their next four games -- including victories over Liverpool and Arsenal -- but that's how far they have come under Erik ten Hag. The Dutchman's decision to start new arrival Antony paid off with a debut goal, and he was also rewarded for keeping faith with Marcus Rashford, who scored twice in the second half.
In truth, there wasn't much between the two teams, but Man United were better in the crucial moments, and Mikel Arteta will be left to pick up his Arsenal players after a first defeat of the season. It seems incredible that after opening defeats to Brighton and Brentford, Man United could start September by moving to within two points of Manchester City. But Ten Hag has been boosted by a strong end to the transfer window, and his team have built some momentum before the international break at the end of the month.
It has already been an unpredictable season, but if they string a few more wins together, they will start to be talked about as possible title contenders. It happened to Arsenal after winning five in a row; this marks the first time United have won four successive league games since April 2021.
2. Antony makes instant impact
Not everyone can deal with the pressure of being a big-money signing at Manchester United, but Antony already looks the part.
The winger, signed for €100 million from Ajax on deadline day, needed only 35 minutes to announce himself to Old Trafford with a crisp finish whipped into the corner to put United 1-0 up.
It came just moments after the Arsenal fans in the corner of the stadium had jeered the Brazilian after one flashy trick came to nothing, and Antony was quick to get his revenge by celebrating in front of the away supporters with the ball up his shirt and his thumb in his mouth. It prompted a warning from referee Paul Tierney, but if nothing else showed that the 22-year-old is not the type to shrink under the spotlight of an intense atmosphere.
He has been brought to United as much for his character as his ability on the pitch. There will be a lot expected of Antony -- who showed his confidence with an attempt to chip Aaron Ramsdale from 35 yards -- after becoming the club's second-most-expensive signing ever, and he has wasted no time in showing that he is worth the money.
It already looks like he'll bring excitement and a bit of bite to Ten Hag's team.
3. Frustration for Arsenal but still moving in the right direction
Arsenal haven't won their first six games of a top-flight season since 1947, so it's not the end of the world that their winning run came to an end at Old Trafford, and Arteta can take plenty of positives.
Aside from his gripe with some of the refereeing decisions -- including the decision to chalk off Gabriel Martinelli's early goal after a VAR check -- his team were in control for large chunks of the game and it was only because Man United were more clinical in front of goal that Arsenal lost for the first time this season.
It will be a concern for Arteta that Arsenal's first real test this season has ended in defeat, but he will also know that on a different day, his players could have earned at least a point. This Arsenal team is still a work in progress but has been thrust into the title debate because of their impressive start.
Ultimately, their goal this season is to qualify for the Champions League after narrowly missing out at the end of last season, and even after a set-back at Old Trafford, they still look more than capable. Arsenal came off second best in the big moments, but Arteta won't be too disheartened.
Man United: De Gea 7, Dalot 6, Malacia 7, Martinez 7, Varane 7, McTominay 7, Eriksen 8, Fernandes 7, Sancho 6, Antony 7, Rashford 7.
Subs: Ronaldo 6, Fred 6, Casemiro 6, Maguire 5.
Arsenal: Ramsdale 6, White 6, Zinchenko 6, Saliba 5, Gabriel 5, Lokonga 5, Xhaka 5, Odegaard 5, Saka 7, Martinelli 6, Jesus 6.
Subs: Nketiah 6, Smith Rowe 6, Vieira 6, Tomiyasu 6.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Christian Eriksen, Manchester United
It was two quick passes forward from the Denmark international that set up Man United's first two goals, and then he got an assist himself by laying on the third for Rashford.
WORST: Gabriel, Arsenal
The Arsenal defender won't want to see Rashford's two goals again after Man United were twice allowed to smash their way through the middle with little resistance.
Highlights and notable moments
A well-taken strike by Gabriel Martinelli was disallowed by VAR early in the first half. The VAR determined that Martin Odegaard had fouled Eriksen to win possession for Arsenal to spark the attack.
Gabriel Martinelli's goal gets disallowed for Arsenal.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 4, 2022
VAR strikes again ❌ pic.twitter.com/rc24dQYsGR
That canceled goal proved costly in the 36th minute, when Antony scored his debut goal in his debut appearance as a Man United man.
(On Thursday, the club announced Antony had completed a move from Ajax and signed a contract until 2027.)
ANTONY DEBUT GOAL!— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 4, 2022
WHAT A MOMENT 🔴 pic.twitter.com/1ZJoVLbtt2
Bukayo Saka then scored his first goal of the season for Arsenal with what looked like an important equalizer.
But Marcus Rashford soon put Man United ahead again.
The Red Devils stayed in control and Arsenal couldn't claw their way back.
After the match: What the managers said
United manager Erik ten Hag: "We're at the start of a process, we're still far away. We have to start doing things much better than we do, that's an investment. We have to get better if you want to win trophies in the end."
Ten Hag: "The spirit from this team, they can deal with setbacks so we did, it is really great and shows your mentality. We have really improved on that. We are happy and satisfied with the win, also the performance against a really good team. They played really well."
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta (on Martinelli's disallowed goal): "I haven't seen the action [again] but they said it was a soft foul. It is just the consistency. There is nothing we can do now, it is too late."
Arteta: "I am very disappointed that we haven't won the game. The game was there for the taking. We haven't won it because we lacked some discipline in some moments and we weren't ruthless enough in front of goal. I told the players at half-time that the game is there for the taking and if we play with more courage, we win the game. It was 1-1 and then it should have been 2-1 [for us]. It is a big lesson if you want to win here, you have to do everything so right."
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
Man United's four-game winning streak is its longest since April 2021, when they won five in a row.
Antony scored in his Man United debut, mirroring his debut with previous club Ajax in September 2020.
Per Opta, Antony became the 100th different Brazilian to play in the Premier League and the youngest to score in his debut (22 years and 192 days old).
Only Nicolas Anelka (23) scored more Premier League goals for Arsenal before turning 21 than Bukayo Saka (18).
Marcus Rashford has tied David Beckham (62) for ninth place for most Premier League goals all time with Man United. Only Wayne Rooney (183), Paul Scholes (107) and Andrew Cole (93) scored more PL goals for Man United among English players.
This was Marcus Rashford's second Premier League game with at least two goals and an assist. He's the fifth Man United player over the last 15 years to record multiple such league games along with Wayne Rooney (7), Bruno Fernandes (2), Cristiano Ronaldo (2) and Ashley Young (2).
Cristiano Ronaldo is still looking for his first goal of the season (six games played). This is the fifth-longest scoreless drought to start the season in his career.
Manchester United: The Red Devils host Real Sociedad on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET in the group stage of the Europa League. Then next Sunday, Man United return to Premier League action when they head to Crystal Palace.
Arsenal: The Gunners visit FC Zurich on Thursday at 12:45 p.m. ET in the group stage of the Europa League. Then next Sunday, Arsenal return to Premier League action when they host Everton.