Just when we were all starting to wonder whether or not Man Utd might have what it takes to reclaim the Premier League title in 2016, Arsenal dominate against Manchester United to complicate matters significantly. The Gunners defeated the Red Devils 3-0 in Sunday’s biggest Premier League showdown. The win put Arsenal in second place and dropped United from first to third. Manchester City, meanwhile, who United replaced at the top of the table just last weekend, reclaimed the top spot thanks to a massive 6-1 victory against Newcastle.
Arsenal’s Surprising Dominance
Though Arsenal had the home field advantage in their Sunday, October 4th match against Manchester United, many soccer analysts expected the Red Devils to dominate. Louis van Gaal’s United squad had seemed to find their groove in recent weeks, winning Premier League fixtures against Southampton and Sunderland, taking the lead ahead of their crosstown rivals, and even beating Wolfsburg in a Champions League group stage match last week.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have had something of an inconsistent 2015 – 2016 campaign so far. For one thing, the Gunners lost two Premier League matches that they probably should have won. The football club’s season opener against West Ham and their mid-September match with a vulnerable Chelsea team both ended in surprising 0-2 shutouts. For another thing, Arsenal are getting clobbered in the Champions League right now, having lost their first two group stage games against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, respectively.
None of Arsenal’s recent woes were on display at Sunday’s match, however. On the contrary, the Gunners took the field with a vengeance and quickly took control of the game. Less than 10 minutes into regulation, they were already up 2-0.
Indeed, Arsenal kicked off the game at a blistering pace, keeping the ball in Man United’s territory for the majority of the game’s opening 10 minutes. The first few dangerous attacks, featuring guys like Alexis Sanchez and Cazorla either went wide or were swatted away by Manchester goalkeeper David de Gea.
After six minutes of dominant possession, though, the Gunners found their opening, and Sanchez scored off an assist from Mesut Ozil. 33 seconds after the restart, Ozil got his own moment in the sun, taking a pass from Walcott and sending a kick barreling into the net from 15 yards out. Just like that Arsenal were up two points.
The speed of play looked to be slowing down a bit in the second 10 minutes, with United finding a few more opportunities to take possession and formulate attacks. The Red Devils looked out of sorts after their disastrous start to the game, though, and at the 19th minute, Alexis Sanchez kicked home another winner, courtesy of a second Theo Walcott assist.
With Arsenal three goals up after less than 20 minutes of play, it was already more or less game over for the Red Devils. Heck, Sanchez nearly made his brace a hat trick at the 25-minute mark, sneaking the ball past Manchester’s Bastian Schweinsteiger for a 25-yard kick that just narrowly went wide.
The young Anthony Martial had a few good chances in the first half, but otherwise, United looked downright average. Captain Wayne Rooney was particularly poor in the first half, bungling a solid scoring opportunity at 37 minutes with a predictable shot on goal that Petr Cech easily saved. Memphis Depay and Matteo Darmian were also poor in the first half, and both were benched for the second.
Things did improve slightly for the Red Devils in the second half. They dominated possession and had a few close shaves at the goal. But a continued poor performance from Wayne Rooney—who picked up a yellow card at 55 minutes for a visibly frustrated shove—and solid defense from Arsenal kept United locked out. The soccer game ultimately ended 3-0 in favor of the home team.
The victory puts the Gunners and the Red Devils on a near-even keel in the Premier League standings. Both football clubs have 16 points in the standings, and Arsenal are leading on goal difference alone (+6 versus +4). Manchester City, meanwhile, are out in front with 18 points from eight fixtures.