A 20-minute blitzkrieg from Arsenal propelled them to a 3-0 victory over rivals Manchester United. The clash between two of the biggest teams in the league was supposed to be a tight affair but an Alexis Sanchez brace and a Mesut Ozil strike in between did the damage in the first 20 minutes and sent Arsenal off.
Manchester United started with Schweinsteiger in midfield and Ashley Young as a wingback, but the entire team seemed to be well below par and the quick-paced attack and movement of the Arsenal forwards tore the United defence to shreds. Manchester United did well to keep the score down to three and after half-time it was the away team that started to fight back but the damage was already done and Arsenal claimed a massive win which pushes them up to second in the table, ahead of United on goal difference.
We look back at the match and discuss the five talking points.
Arsenal started the game on fire
It seemed that Arsenal were playing for their lives, the Gunners could have scored five or six in the first half but had to settle for three. Sanchez, Walcott, Ozil and Ramsey’s fluid movement was too much for Manchester United and David de Gea couldn’t really do much to stop the team from London attacking and scoring at will.
The tale of two stars
While Ozil and Sanchez deserve a special mention for doing exceptionally well, the United team were let down by average performances by their creative threats in Juan Mata and Memphis Depay. Both players were extremely poor in application and seemed to be well off their best, Depay was even substituted at the start of the second half for Fellaini and didn’t impact the game as he would have hoped.
Walcott was the right choice
There was a lot of talk about which player should start for Arsenal at the tip of the attack. While Giroud would give them a physical presence, playing with Walcott was the smart move. The Englishman’s movement, pace and link up play with Sanchez and Ozil was simply amazing. This is the Walcott we want to see day in and day out, he might not have gotten on the scoresheet, but he was everything and much more that Arsenal wanted.
United looked tired at the start
In such a big game, one that could have taken United to the top of the table, the Red Devils were incredibly sluggish. Arsenal took full advantage of a tired looking Manchester United and repeatedly hit them with fast attacks. Almost every Manchester United player seemed to be feeling tired and worn out. Something needs to be done as if United start other games in this fashion, their opponents will tear them apart.
Second half substitutes the saving grace for Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal got his team selection wrong. Playing Carrick and Schweinsteiger was a mistake as they couldn’t deal with the pace of Arsenal’s attack and even the United defence of Smalling and Blind were unable to cope with Sanchez and co. Bringing Fellaini and Valencia in the second half might have restored some parity as United didn’t concede anymore but the damage was already done by this stage.