Tottenham Hotspur, who have not been champions since they won the double in 1961, kept the pressure on surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City and stole a march on neighbours Arsenal on Sunday.
After Spurs came from behind to beat struggling Swansea City 2-1, the roar that greeted the winning goal by full back Danny Rose was repeated when the White Hart Lane fans learned that bitter rivals Arsenal had lost 3-2 at Manchester United.
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The two results now make Saturday’s meeting of the north London sides at White Hart Lane all the more important although before then on Wednesday, Tottenham visit sixth-placed West Ham United while Arsenal host Swansea.
Leicester, who were 5,000-1 outsiders to win the title at the start of the season, entertain West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.
Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester have 56 points from 27 matches while Spurs are on 54 and Arsenal have 51. Manchester City occupy fourth position on 47 points and have a game in hand on their championship rivals.
“We believe we can win every game and we’ll see what happens at the end of the season. Our mentality is to look to the next game and go step by step,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told Sky Sports television.
“For me it is not important (Arsenal lost). What is important is our own performance and there are still 11 Premier League games ahead.”
Marcus Rashford, the 18-year-old who scored twice on his Manchester United debut in the Europa League on Thursday, inflicted the same punishment on Arsenal in the space of three minutes at Old Trafford on Sunday.
He netted his first with a confident shot following Guillermo Varela’s cross and then headed in a centre from Jesse Lingard.
Former United striker Danny Welbeck pulled one goal back before Rashford set up Ander Herrera for the home team’s third. Mesut Ozil grabbed Arsenal’s second in the 69th minute.
“It was a shock playing in midweek but that benefited me,” said Rashford who only featured in that Europa League game because Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up.
United manager Louis van Gaal said: “I’ve always said it’s not a matter of age, it’s a matter of quality.”
Van Gaal also brought on two other youngsters against Arsenal as debutant substitutes in Tim Fosu-Mensah, a versatile 18-year-old Dutchman who was once at Ajax Amsterdam’s academy, and midfielder James Weir, 20.
Italian striker Alberto Paloschi, signed from Chievo in January, scored his first Swansea goal to give them a halftime lead at 1961 league and FA Cup winners Spurs.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski frustrated the home team for long spells with a series of fine saves but was finally beaten by substitute Nacer Chadli with 20 minutes left.
Rose then hit the winner seven minutes later, leaving Pochettino delighted.
“Fabianski was great, man of the match,” the Spurs manager said. “It is a fantastic win.”