Where do I begin? Well I am among those who were impressed by the performance of Arsenal against Manchester United last Sunday. It was a clinical performance from Arsenal, one which we frequently see every other month rather than a regular basis. Going into this game I was not optimistic at all as the record going into the game was beating Manchester United only once out of thirteen premier league matches. You don’t even have to be a football fan to know what is not a good record. In the eyes of many people they were most likely assuming it could end with another Manchester United win or a draw to say the least.
Manchester United were on form in the last couple of week after beating Wolfsburg in the Champions league, 3-0 clean sweep against Sunderland and Ipswich and a 3-2 win against Southampton. Coming into this game they were undoubtedly on top form from previous games. Not only that, their new young signing Anthony Martial who had been in fine form. The previous day Sergio Aguero had scored 5 goals in less than 20 minutes, people assumed that Martial being on form would do a similar thing to Arsenal. People played down Arsenal as they had lost in mid-week, so it was a perfect deal for Manchester United.
However the tables turned unexpectedly when the game began. It was an almost near perfect display from the outside and throughout. Not only did they win the midfield battles, they dominated from back to front. I assume Louis Van Gaal did not prepare for this to happen as it doesn’t usually occur on a game like this. Rooney and Schweinsteiger were being drawn into positions they may not have favoured by deep midfield players such as Cazorla. They used their ability to play around them and take them out of the game, essentially giving them a bit more space. Going forward it then gave space for Mesut Ozil to make things happen and do what he does best, assisting. Having Theo Walcott play upfront forced Manchester United to draw back as his speed would make it easier to run in behind them and get through on goal. Michael Carrick was left chasing shadows and him and his team mates could not keep up.
First goal came from a sloppy attempted clearance which allowed Francis Coquelin to pick up the ball and create a turn over, passing it onto Ozil who did a clever one two with Ramsey, allowing him to put in a perfectly set up goal for Alexis Sanchez who scored emphatically with a back flick. Theo Walcott’s performance was one of the best in an Arsenal shirt. The hunger and desire that he showed even when off the ball was immaculate. He was constantly chasing the ball in order to win it back for the team whilst the Manchester United players were expectant of it. This hard work it came when he assisted Mesut Ozil who slotted it first time into the bottom left corner. The killer third sparked from Walcott to who took it from a throw in. He then found the red hot Alexis Sanchez who immaculately dribbled past two of United’s defence and smashed it into the top right hand side corner. His second goal can be a contender for goal of the month, even to one of the best individual goals of the year. Alexis Sanchez has 6 goals in a few games, surely he has gained his confidence back after having a long summer.
What impressed me was having gone into half time with 3-0 Arsene Wenger changed the strategy into one that doesn’t allow United to do too much, however instead be more controlled and see the game through like a good team would. Compared to the first half Arsenal only had 132 passes to 341 from Manchester United. It really showed how the players had recovered well from their mid-week low spirits.
Thing is now is that Arsenal do not need to be high only on one performance, however to keep it going. Considering everyone else is not having an amazing season, they are only 2 points of the top of the table, Manchester City. This allows Arsenal to stay in touching distance and keep themselves in that title contention. It is only October in a long season which is a marathon not a sprint. However it is unhelpful to be in a low place like last year’s champions Chelsea who are currently sitting just above the relegation spot far from the top. All we need to see is consistent performances, the same gospel we have been preaching ever since Arsenal last won the Premier League. When the players turn up, they turn up, hopefully it will be the first of many to come ahead of the season where they are still in contention of the league and the league cups.