Arsenal 3 Manchester United 0
( Alexis 6, 19, Özil 7 )

In a week when questions had been raised over their strength and character, Arsenal produced a scintillating display to hit Manchester United with three first half goals from which the visitors never recovered. The Gunners hurried hassled and above all had the firepower to overcome a strong United side, who can rarely have produced something as below par as they did here. But Arsenal never allowed the visitors to get going and were well worth more than the actual three goals, two from Alexis Sanchez either side of Mesut Özil’s first goal of the season which sunk their visitors. Arsenal’s response to the midweek Champions League disappointment with the thrashing of United with three quick fire first half goals. The Gunners had two in a minute from Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil which would set the foundations for a first half lead, where Alexis unleashed a thunderbolt for his second and Arsenal’s third of the game, leaving David De Gea grappling for nothing but air.

It was brilliant Arsenal, compact in defence and tough in midfield and above all, lethal in attack. When he was called into action, Petr Cech – yes Arsene Wenger went with his summer signing, was at his best to deny Anthony Martial and Bastian Schweinsteiger from point blank range

Arsenal attacked from the off, and after a mere two minutes, Santi Cazorla’s free kick had to be dealt with by De Gea. With Laurent Koscielny out for up to three weeks from a calf strain, Per Mertersacker partnered Gabriel and soon he was forced to deal with the attentions of a robust Schweinsteiger. Early passages of neat Arsenal play soon had its reward. Hector Bellerin surged away on the initial foray on the right. Aaron Ramsey took over an whipped the ball to Özil. His cross was low but just right for Alexis to back flick past a startled De Gea, and into the net for the games opener after 6 minutes.

The Emirates stadium erupted in delight and soon that and the Arsenal lead would be doubled. Ozil found Walcott who charged at the retreating United defence. He had worked an opening and could have taken the shot, but he saw that Ozil was now better placed alongside. The pass was made and Ozil’s calm low pass was nestling in De Gea’s net before he had any chance to react for a 2-0 scoreline after just seven minutes.

United were shellshocked, but Arsenal were rampant and the crowd sensed a goal every time they went forward. Ramsey swung over a pass to Bellerin. He controlled the ball and fed Ozil. Walcott saw the move and went into position, but Chris Smalling reacted to block the pass.

With their next move, Arsenal trebled their lead. Ramsey found Walcott, who switched the ball to the advanced Alexis. The Chile striker beat off a half tackle and skipped into position to unleash a venomous shot and with such disguise, that De Gea had the best view of the ball as it flew past him and into his net for a 3-0 scoreline, and with only 19 minutes having been played.

To say United were in disbelief was an understatement. Wayne Rooney looked at his team and couldn’t fathom what had transpired in the early exchanges. Ashley Young is not a defender but has had to try to learn to defend. His yellow card for a foul on Ramsey and Matteo Darmian for a foul on the unstoppable Alexis said everything about United’s poor afternoon.

Ten minutes before the break and Arsenal should have been up by four goals. An incisive move with Ozil, Sanchez and Walcott involved, with Ozil pinpointing the ball to an unmarked Ramsey. From eight yards out, and with just De Gea to beat, the Arsenal number 16 was unable to get either the control or direction and hit wide of the target. It was a gilt edged chance which went begging but Arsenal would have been worthy of that extra goal.

The Gunners were playing with a swagger missed of late, a team in every sense of the word, and with a fighting spirit emphasised by Walcott’s excellent defensive tackle on Schweinsteiger in the centre circle.

United had a chance to reduce the arrears just before the half when £36 million summer signing Anthony Martial turned to shoot from close in, but sensing the danger,
Cech timed his low save to perfection.

Young tested Cech with a swerving shot from distance, as Louis Van Gaal went for midfield stability with the introduction of Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia for Memphis Depay and Darmian. Still Arsenal wanted more. Ozil saw a free kick come back to him, he rifled a return only to see it deflected just wide for a corner.

Rooney’s frustration was obvious and his yellow card for a foul on Özil as the German twisted and turned his way past was symptomatic of United’s afternoon.

It was Rooney who could have put his team on the scoresheet with a shot which Cech had to get down to, but an earlier handball by Fellaini in the build up wasn’t spotted by referee Anthony Taylor, and would have been harsh on the Gunners.
United came again, and again Cech was the hero, smothering Schweinsteiger’s effort from point blank.

Ozil went close from Monreal’s pass as did substitute Olivier Giroud, but both shots lacked power and De Gea was able to collect the ball. Late on and Oxlade-Chamberlain clipped De Gea’s bar from Bellerin’s pass. A fourth goal would have been the icing on the Gunners cake on an afternoon when it all came together for Wenger’s side. Long May that continue.