Arsenal have their new Patrick Vieira in Declan Rice but Kai Havertz signing is not working

Standout: Declan Rice  (AP)
Standout: Declan Rice (AP)

Arsenal have not hit their stride this season and yet four games into the campaign they remain unbeaten, with just two points dropped, after a dramatic victory over Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

Heading into eight minutes of stoppage-time with the score level at 1-1, Arsenal underlined their resilience, character and squad depth with two late goals through Declan Rice and substitute Gabriel Jesus to keep the heat on early pace-setters Manchester City.

The win was no less than Arsenal deserved for a dominant performance against a ragged United side, and their mental strength was also demonstrated by Martin Odegaard's equaliser straight from the restart and just 35 seconds after Marcus Rashford opened the scoring against the run of play.

Plainly, Arsenal have character and spirit in abundance, which feels particularly important while Mikel Arteta's new-look side continues to gel.

Declan Rice produced his first great performance for Arsenal. (Getty Images)
Declan Rice produced his first great performance for Arsenal. (Getty Images)

The additions of Kai Havertz and Rice were supposed to take Arsenal's midfield to a new level after Arteta felt they were overrun in games - notably against Newcastle, Everton and, twice, Manchester City - last season.

While this result will surely go down as an important marker for Rice, it was another frustrating outing for the Havertz.

Rice's late, late strike, which crept inside Andre Onana's near post after United had failed to clear a corner, suggests he can be the difference-maker, as Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira so often were in the heyday of this fixture.

His first goal for the club since a £105million move from West Ham capped an imposing display, which helped Arsenal to win the midfield battle against Casemiro and Christian Eriksen. He can still be more dominant but a goal in front of a raucous home crowd could do wonders.

By contrast, it was another difficult runout for Havertz, who fluffed a glorious early chance and lost possession in the build-up to United's goal.

Kai Havertz already looks like a poor fit in midfield (Action Images via Reuters)
Kai Havertz already looks like a poor fit in midfield (Action Images via Reuters)

A frustrating afternoon for the £65m summer signing from Chelsea was compounded when he thought he had won a second half penalty after a foul by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, only for referee Anthony Taylor to overruled his decision on viewing the pitch-side monitor following advice from the VAR.

Havertz still looks like a square peg at Arsenal and he squandered a magnificent chance to open the scoring when the ball fell into his path yards from goal but he fluffed his lines with an air-kick, demonstrating his lack of confidence.

And it was his loose pass which was intercepted by Eriksen, who magnificently released Rashford for the United goal -- a fierce strike off the inside of the post.

Havertz thought he had made amends when he burst into the box and appeared to be caught, with referee Taylor pointing to the spot, but the decision was overturned, with replays suggesting contact was minimal.

It was Havertz's last contribution of note and he was replaced by Fabio Vieira with 15 minutes remaining.

The Portuguese sub was positive, setting up Jesus to seal the points on the break with a smart pass. The Brazilian kept his cool and finished well.

Arteta will revel in a stirring comeback win, which suggests Arsenal have the grit to challenge City again this season, but the Spaniard may spend the international break mulling over how to get the best from his midfield three, particularly with Thomas Partey expected to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines.