Whether it’s the board or Arsene Wenger who refused to spend their budget – it’s the manager who must take the blame for today’s 8-2 humiliation at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young in particular were on fire for Manchester United today, with the former scoring a hat trick of set pieces and the latter scoring two himself.
Manchester United tore Arsenal apart from the start. The visitors simply could not cope with United’s attacks.
Thomas Vermaelen was missing through injury in the centre of defence whilst Jack Wilshere was also injured in midfield. Other candidates to protect the weak Arsenal defence, both Alex Song and Emmanuel Frimpong were suspended.
Manchester United were much on top before they finally broke through in the 22nd minute when Johan Djourou foolishly decided to let Anderson’s chip bounce inside the penalty area. Danny Welbeck raced in between the Arsenal defence to head home from close range.
Welbeck would later pull up with a groin injury in the first half and was substituted for Javier Hernandez.
Arsenal, against the run of play were awarded a penalty in the 26 minutes when Jonny Evans brought down Theo Walcott in the box. Robin van Persie who’d been a passenger in the game to this point took a weak penalty that David de Gea turned away.
Not 2 minutes later, United made Arsenal pay as they doubled their lead. Ashley Young cut in from the left wing and bent a peach of a shot into the top left corner of Wojciech Szczesny’s goal. The Polish goalkeeper couldn’t be blamed, in fact he could have done little about many of the 8 goals he conceded today.
Wayne Rooney scored the first of his two free kicks before half time. The first a result of Carl Jenkinson bringing down Ashley Young on the edge of the area.
Arsenal had what looked like a consolation even then when Theo Walcott scored deep into first half stoppage time. David de Gea should never have been beaten in the way he was, in a failed attempt to block Walcott’s low shot with his legs.
Robin van Persie had a volley well saved by de Gea, and minutes later Andrei Arshavin fired wide in a good position at the start of the second half for Arsenal.
Wayne Rooney’s second free kick just after the hour got Manchester United firing in the second half. This time from the right hand side of the box with Szczesny taking a gamble and going the other way between the sticks for Arsenal.
What was to follow was an embarrassment for Arsenal. There was a lack of effort from Arsenal players, even before they went 3 down. No heart. No fight from this Arsene Wenger side. One has to wonder if the players had lost faith in him or just had no belief in themselves today following the recent sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri in midfield.
Nani scored a delightful lob inside the area after Wayne Rooney put him in against a static Arsenal defence. 3 minutes Park Ji-Sung was given plenty of time just inside the penalty area to fire into the bottom corner to make it 6.
Robin van Persie opened his account for the season 15 minutes from time with a fine volley from close range into the top corner after Manchester United’s defence stood still following a Phil Jones header in the 6 yard box. Patrice Evra had seemingly pushed up as a striker at this point, wanting to get in on the act!
Minutes later Carl Jenkinson was sent off for a second yellow card, this time bringing down Javier Hernandez on the edge of the area. The summer signing for Charlton Athletic who had only played in a handful of League 1 games last season is not ready for the Arsenal first team yet. Rushed in by Wenger for a lack of depth in the Arsenal squad to backup a few injuries in defence. Opposite them, Manchester United have been able to replace the injured trio of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Rafael with solid defenders Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling.
Wayne Rooney fired the ensuing free kick wide but wouldn’t be denied his hat trick. United were awarded a soft penalty when Patrice Evra went down after minimal contact from Theo Walcott. Rooney duly converted.
Hernandez and Park had missed opportunities to make the scoreline even more emphatic, but Ashley Young added his second when he cut inside from the left hand side of the area and curled another great effort into the top corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance.
Manchester United, the hungrier side of the two on this day have replaced city rivals at the top of the Premier League this evening on goal difference despite Manchester City’s 5-1 victory at Tottenham earlier today.
What next for Arsene Wenger? Who can he sign in the final days of the transfer window following this humiliation at Old Trafford that has left his side narrowly above the relegation zone after 3 games.