Three weeks after crashing out of the Champions League, Manchester United is looking more like potential English champions again.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side rose to second place — two points behind Premier League leader Liverpool — with a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton on Tuesday.
While ponderous at times, United pushed for a winner that came in the third minute of stoppage time when Marcus Rashford’s shot deflected off Romain Saiss and wrong-footed goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
“It’s probably not the most beautiful goal but we’ll take the three points and move on,” Rashford said. “Today was tough but at the end of the day we managed to get over the line.
“We’re obviously a little bit disappointed that we didn’t play as well as we could have. (But) it doesn’t matter how scrappy they are, we’ll take them.”
United hasn’t lifted the Premier League trophy since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, with Solskjaer winning six titles as a player under him.
“Last season we didn’t win many points towards the end of games and we have a tradition of it at this club,” Solskjaer said. “Now we’ve won quite a few points towards the end of games and that’s both a mental aspect and also a physical aspect.
“We’ve got a group now that’s more robust both mentally and physically, we’ve gone through some tough training periods and played loads of games and they’re getting fitter. But mentally it gives you a mental boost knowing you can win games towards the end of games.”
In a meeting of promoted clubs, Leeds routed West Bromwich Albion 5-0.
Ezgjan Alioski, Jack Harrison and Rodrigo scored three in nine minutes after Romaine Sawyers’ own-goal put Leeds in front. The midfielder played a blind back pass but failed to notice goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to the left of his goal and the ball rolled into the empty net.
Raphinha added the fifth in the second half as Leeds rose to 11th place, while West Brom is only above Sheffield United at the bottom.
“We have only been in this league for 16 games and there are still many challenges and many tests we have to pass before we can legitimately say we belong,” Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa said. “Every game in this league is a challenge, all the teams have secrets and capacities. There are few games you can think of where there are very few difficulties to resolve.”
Alexandre Lacazette scored 29 seconds after entering the field as a second-half substitute to give Arsenal a 1-0 win at Brighton.
Lacazette had just come on when Bukayo Saka turned from inside his own half and made a superb run down the right before pulling the ball back to him. Lacazette took one touch to control the ball just inside the penalty area before driving a shot inside the right post in the 66th minute.
The win eases some pressure off manager Mikel Arteta as Arsenal rose to 13th place.
“This is what all the managers dream of, to bring people from the bench to win you the game like he’s done,” Arteta said. “It was a great move from Bukayo first to create the action that he did.”
Sheffield United has only two points after 16 games following a 1-0 loss to Burnley that was secured by captain Ben Mee. Burnley is five points above the drop zone.
Southampton recorded its second successive 0-0 draw in a cagey match against West Ham. Southampton was without manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, who is in self-isolation after a member of his household tested positive for COVID-19.