"The opposition have taken their first chance against us in these big games so often and then we end up chasing the game and getting caught on the break. I for one, do not want to see that movie anymore. The one where we win the game in the first half after some scintillating football is the one I want to see"
That is what I wrote when previewing the game and I must say, it is nice to get exactly what I wanted for once.
It was the exact type of Arsenal display that I love the most, the high energy, combative and quick passing performance that Manchester United simply could not live with in the opening twenty minutes. I cannot remember a better start to a game than that in recent times, especially against a direct opponent of ours.
While I wouldn't dare suggest that Arsenal do not deserve all of the praise for this performance, you got to ask yourself what was Louis van Gaal thinking starting a midfield of Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the midfield without Morgan Schneiderlin in the team.
I'd like to think Arsène picked up the team sheet before the game and said something along the lines of
The Arsenal approach was very similar to how we played Liverpool at the Emirates last season, Arsenal have improved their pressing game a great deal in the last couple of years. Alexis, Ramsey and Coquelin are all excellent at it and it looks like Theo is improving that side of his game also.
Just like Liverpool last season, Manchester United thought they could build up from the back and try and control the game. How wrong they were.
On the first goal Coquelin robbed Memphis Depay outside of their penalty box just as they had won the ball back. Ramsey's part in the goal is somewhat understated I feel but it was the Alexis improvisation that really stood out. Only Alexis would have taken that cross like that in our squad. After a slow start to the season he is well and truly back and wow he makes a huge difference to our attack.
Alexis Sanchez got a taste for it, and it was his flick from Santi's pass to Özil that was the beginning of the second goal only minutes later. Walcott zoomed inside the box, cut inside and picked out Mesut Özil for a cool side foot past the rooted de Gea. A few weeks ago Walcott would have snatched at that when he had cut inside but these weeks he is showing composure and making the best decisions for the team.
Walcott's overall performance was a big positive on the day, we wanted to see him put in a big performance against a top team and Walcott did just that. He did not get into many scoring positions which is unlike him but his work for the team was better than I've ever seen before. One full blooded tackle in the 38th minute was like nothing I've witnessed during all his years at the club.
Theo Walcott played a big part in our third goal, turning on Ramsey's pass and sweeping it wide to Alexis who cut inside two United players only to fire the ball high past de Gea in the Manchester United net. The goal was eerily similar to Alexis' goal against Liverpool last season. Even down to Theo acting as Ramsey with the assist and then the Alexis celebration.
I mentioned how similar the Alexis goal was to the Liverpool goal last season. Well you can see just how similar pic.twitter.com/6UuqWGjMRE— Mean Lean (@arsenalvision) October 5, 2015
It's uncanny isn't it?
Ramsey could and should have scored the 4th when Alexis crossed to the back post and his side footed effort went high and wide.
The only threat in the Manchester United side was young Anthony Martial had his turn and shot late in the half beat the outstretched foot of Petr Cech then who knows, we may have had a different second half on our hands. As it was Petr Cech made a few important saves that prevented Manchester United from getting back into the game.
With the game under control Arsenal decided to drop off, conserve some energy and play on the break. Manchester United had plenty of the ball but could not do much with it. The better chances fell to us in the second half even with far less of the ball. Giroud, Özil and Oxlade-Chamberlain all could have scored but could not beat de Gea when presented with the chance.
And that is how it finished, twenty minutes of unstoppable football put Manchester United to the sword and I loved every minute of it. Not one player put a foot wrong and it was just the response we wanted to see.
I have heard a number of people ask the question why we can't play this way every week and the answer is quite simple. we do not face opposition every single week who want to play out from the back and play a possession game against us. You cannot disposes a team who don't have the ball and who are content to put almost all their players behind the ball.
We have scored 8 goals against the last 2 league teams who wanted to play, we still need to find a consistent solution to those who have no intention of doing so.
We are now two points off top spot in the table and we are only now seeing a bit of form so the world of Arsenal isn't quite so bad as it seemed in midweek, at least domestically.
For some extra reading you should check out this weeks Q&A, you'll find some very intelligent responses.
Post match podcast up today or tomorrow. Follow the Arsenal Vision Podcast Twitter account for alerts.
PS - How lovely was this from Santi. Woof!
Cazorla sent Schweinsteiger back to the slums Kolbermoor. ?????? https://t.co/JPFae2enQs— Manas (@Wojceched) October 5, 2015