Manchester United produced an atrocious first half display as they were blown away by Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates stadium this afternoon.
Man United made a horrendous start to the game and were deservedly punished as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil scored in quick succession within the first seven minutes of the match. It was an awful opening period for Louis van Gaal’s side, who were cut open at will by the hosts.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for United as Sanchez fired in his second and Arsenal’s third after twenty minutes played. Pre-match optimism was by now a distant memory as Arsenal humiliated their opponents. Aaron Ramsey, who somehow fired over from close range, should have made it four. The only hope for United was to score before the interval but Petr Cech’s excellent stop denied Anthony Martial in what was the away side’s first real chance of the contest.
Things got better for United in the second half but they still struggled to fashion opportunities for themselves. Bastian Schweinsteiger received the ball in the Arsenal box but his touch let him down and the chance went begging. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then hit the post late on for Arsenal but it mattered little as Wenger’s side saw out the three points.
United, by and large, have managed to get away with slow starts in recent weeks. However, Arsenal were ruthless in the way they picked the visitors apart early on at the Emirates. Within seven minutes of the first whistle, Arsenal were two up and cruising. By the twentieth minute, it was three. It was shambolic from United, who were clueless, insipid and meek from the first man to the last.
Awful opening periods have been a worrying feature of United under van Gaal and Arsenal would have fully aware of this. Arsene Wenger couldn’t have possibly imagined his side capitalising so well but United did themselves no favours by showing no grit or determination whatsoever. Horrible. Utterly horrible.
United were ripped apart by Arsenal time and time again. The midfield consisted of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick, who have bags of experience between them, but there were nowhere to be seen as the likes of Ozil and Theo Walcott found their Arsenal teammates with complete ease.
Chris Smalling, the subject of high praise in recent months, was similarly invisible. When it comes to ‘leaders’ on the pitch, Arsenal are usually the ones who are questioned but it was United who had no-one taking charge and pulling their team out of the rut.
The Italian was unrecognisable from the player who had impressed so much early on in the campaign. Walcott and Sanchez bullied Darmian during a torrid first half and it was easily his worst performance in a United shirt so far. Luke Shaw’s injury has disrupted the backline but that can be no excuse for Darmian’s gutless display and he was brought off at the break. As well as Darmian, the likes of Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger put in shocking first half performances.
How long is van Gaal going to persist with Rooney? Although the same could be said for all of his teammates, Rooney was awful once again against Arsenal.
The United captain could have had no complaints if he was hauled off at half time but van Gaal instead chose to keep Rooney on and shift him onto the left wing in what was a bizarre decision. Aside from the hat-trick against Club Brugge, Rooney has been awful in every single one of United’s games this season. And yet van Gaal refuses to drop the 29-year-old. Why?
Awful start to a tough month
United were top of the Premier League table going into October but critics warned that their credentials would be tested with some difficult fixtures coming up. As it happens, United have fallen at the first hurdle following an awful result and performance against Arsenal. Van Gaal’s side travel to Everton and host Manchester City this month and they will need to be much, much better.