A frenzied first 20 minutes between Arsenal and Manchester United saw the Gunners race into a three-goal lead on Sunday.
United entered the weekend top of the Premier League but had no reply to goal from Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil, which put the hosts 2-0 up within seven minutes. Alexis added a third after 20 minutes had passed and the game was already over.
Playing decisive one-touch football and attacking at pace, Arsenal stunned Louis van Gaal’s side and the Dutchman was not at all pleased with his players.
“When you give a team like Arsenal so much space to play football, you know you shall lose,” the experienced manager said after the game. “We have prepared ourselves in that way, to play more compact but not to lose our aggression. It was amazing for me and very disappointing.
“The players are in an emotional moment because we have lost. We have lost in a way you cannot lose when you are top of the league. You cannot start like that.”
With United trying to press high, it seemed that Bastian Schweinsteiger was man-marking Santi Cazorla, but that decision was horrible. As Arsenal move the ball out from the back, Cazorla drops deeper than Francis Coquelin. The German seemed to be caught in two minds whether or not to go that far but frequently followed Santi throughout the first half, leaving Michael Carrick fending for himself at the base of the midfield.
As a result, just one pass helped Arsenal bypass the United midfield over and over again before attacking a vulnerable looking defence.
“The midfielders, especially [Santi] Cazorla and [Mesut] Ozil, had too much space and they have the quality to make the most of it,” van Gaal added.
“We lost every duel, every second ball. We were not tight on their midfielders, and they can play because they are a fantastic team. We have to do better as a team. The defence starts with the attacker. We have to be more compact against teams like Barcelona, PSG and Arsenal, but with the same aggression.”
The Gunners will be delighted with all the aspects of their game on Sunday. The team was compact and aggressive, pressing better than usual and with great intensity.
They were well up for it, and more performances like that would surely win everyone over after a shaky start to the season.