By Augustine Arinabo
Manchester United suffered a considerable blow away at the Emirates on Sunday, losing 3-0 to Arsenal in a defeat every bit as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests. The Gunners scored all three goals in the game’s opening quarter, and had little difficulty keeping their visitors at bay for the remainder of the match.
United could have hardly made a worse start to the match, with Arsenal able to dominate possession from the first whistle. Morgan Schneiderlin’s absence in the centre of midfield left Michael Carrick struggling to stem the tide alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger and laid bare the continued weakness of Louis van Gaal’s entire back four. If you thought Chris Smalling and Daley Blind were good enough for United to get back to the top, think again.
The opening goal came when Alexis Sánchez tapped Mesut Özil’s low cross into the back of the net after just six minutes; seconds later the German turned scorer when he stroked a smart Theo Walcott layoff beyond David de Gea for 2-0. United looked shellshocked, and though they subsequently had their first sustained spell of possession in the match, they were unable to do anything with it.
Within 20 minutes it was 3-0, with Sánchez skipping past Matteo Darmian and lashing a spectacular shot into the top corner. By then the game was all but over, and slipping into damage limitation looked a fairly sensible option. But still United continued to look poor, and their only real chance of the first half came when Anthony Martial was denied by Petr Čech.
Marouane Fellaini came on for the anonymous Memphis Depay for the second half, while Darmian was punished for another inexplicably poor performance by once again being replaced by Antonio Valencia. United saw more of the ball, but still struggled to do anything with it: save for a snapshot from Wayne Rooney and a close-range poke from Schweinsteiger, Čech was almost entirely untested, and Arsenal ran out comfortable winners.
A video of the goals