Arsenal 3 Manchester United 0 analysis: Five things we learnt from Gunners' triumph at the Emirates

Mesut Ozil's performance caught the eye as the Gunners won convincingly

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The Independent Football

Arsenal CAN beat their rivals at the top

Questions have long been asked about Arsenal’s fragile mentality when up against the Premier League’s top clubs, and the usual critics were at it again when the Gunners folded at Chelsea just last month.

Yet they are notable by their absence following this emphatic result. Manchester United could have returned to the top of the pile with a win in North London, but they weren’t given a chance by a blistering Arsenal performance that had their opponents on the back foot from kick-off. This vintage display and result was made all the more sweeter given that those players so often accused of going missing in such fixtures  - Mesut Ozil, in particular – were absolutely superb.

Arsenal must challenge to keep hold of Alexis Sanchez

The emphatic nature of Arsenal’s victory brought back misty-eyed memories of the Invincibles, but it’s now 12 years since those record breakers won the Premier League title. In the time since, Arsene Wenger has had teams full of potential picked apart by those promising silverware as the trophyless seasons at the Emirates mounted up.

Two FA Cup successes in as many years have got the Gunners in the groove again, but now they simply must challenge for the title or the Champions league (a task growing harder by the week) if they are to keep hold of the sensation that is Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean’s slow start to his second season at Arsenal is now long-forgotten after another absolutely sensational performance against Manchester United. He not only made it six goals in eight days with two brilliant yet different strikes, but also caused defenders no end of trouble with his movement and passing. He now need major trophies to complement the plaudits.

Pace crucial to the Premier League game

If failing to beat their rivals is one criticism levelled at Arsenal, then their willingness to overplay the ball around the box is another.  Yet it was their direct running and rapid overlaps that were key to this victory as the use of immense pace continues to symbolise the intensity of the Premier League game.

 

United were unable to live with the speed of Hector Bellerin, Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and even Mesut Ozil as they conceded three times in the opening 20 minutes of a Premier League match for the first time in their history. And when their players thought they were over the worst, Arsene Wenger introduced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for good measure.

Cech's presence crucial to Gunners success

Arsene Wenger’s controversial decision to favour David Ospina in the Champions League in midweek may have been quickly forgotten as Arsenal raced into a three-goal lead in this one, but as the attackers flourished, Petr Cech also went quietly about proving his immense worth to the cause.

With the home side cruising, there was little pressure on the former Chelsea stopper, but his saves made at key points ensured there was no second half onslaught that Arsenal sides of the past would have invited. His block to deny Anthony Martial on the stroke of half-time, followed by saves from Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger after the break may have been routine, but they are ones that Gunners goalkeepers of the past may not have made.

Schneiderlin the man for Manchester United’s midfield

When Manchester United signed two midfielders in the summer with surnames beginning ‘Sch’, it was widely believed that it would be the decorated German international Bastian Schweinsteiger who would make the much-need difference to their performances, both at Old Trafford and away. 

The 31-year-old was back in Louis van Gaal’s team ahead of Morgan Schneiderlin for the match at the Emirates but was left chasing the shadows of Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquerlin in a first half where he was lucky not to concede a penalty in the opening minutes.

Meanwhile, former Southampton man Schneiderlin – admittedly recovering from injury – sat unused on the bench as the Red Devils cried out for a player of his ability, who could keep hold of the ball and open up space for his teammates. It surely won't be long before he takes his rightful place in midfield.

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