Arsene Wenger's Arsenal hit what must surely be rock-bottom as they were pulverised 8-2 by Man Utd.
Wenger's problems brutally and rampantly exposed at Old TraffordArsene Wenger's Arsenal hit what must surely be rock-bottom in what has already been a wretched summer as they were pulverised 8-2 by a brutal Manchester United performance at Old Trafford. Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick, one from the penalty spot, Ashley Young hit two sensational long-range strikes, while Danny Welbeck, who hobbled off with an apparent hamstring injury, Nani and Ji-Sung Park also got on the score sheet. For Wenger, who is beset by a monumental crisis caused by the sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, wretched performances and the unrest of fans, the afternoon was made even more painful by the first-penalty failure of Robin van Persie and Carl Jenkinson's second-half red card. Van Persie later gave Arsenal fans some reason to cheer, while Theo Walcott had netted in first-half stoppage time, but the goals were only a minor distraction in what was a remarkably painful afternoon for the visitors. United's delirious fans mocked Wenger with chants of 'you're getting sacked in the morning' as Rooney walked off with the matchball, having scored his 150th Red Devils goal, then adding two more after half-time to complete his hat-trick. Yet Rooney's efforts did not even account for half of United's staggering tally as they scored eight for the first time since 1999. It was Arsenal's worst ever defeat against United and the first time they have conceded eight in a league game since 1896. For Sir Alex Ferguson, so strident in his defence of Wenger pre-match, this is of little concern.
SetbackHis side are yet to drop a point, as are their noisy neighbours across the city. And while there are plenty at Stamford Bridge and Anfield who will strongly disagree, this season already seems to be turning into an eight-month shoot-out between the red and blue halves of Manchester. That United suffered a series of setbacks during the first-half just made the 3-1 interval scorline even more remarkable. Jonny Evans conceded a penalty, Welbeck limped off with an apparent hamstring injury and Theo Walcott scored. None of this prevented Ferguson's side jogging off to a rapturous reception after a mesmeric display, in which their youngsters again showed their class, and even David De Gea joined the party. Derided for his performances since an £18million summer move from Atletico Madrid, De Gea needed a lift. Turning Van Persie's penalty round the post provided it. It was the central component of a pivotal five-minute spell, during which United established their clear superiority. The hosts had already threatened to dismantle an Arsenal side shorn of Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen, in addition to the suspensions of Alex Song and Gervinho. But when Anderson lifted the ball over Arsenal's static defence, Welbeck had too much strength for Johan Djourou and headed over Wojciech Szczesny. In their present fragile state, Van Persie's failure to punish Evans' penalty box foul on Walcott was a shattering blow.
InconvenienceThat United immediately headed up to the other end and doubled their advantage through Young's magnificent curling strike only made matters worse. Even Welbeck's injury, which will surely deprive England of his services in Bulgaria next week, was only a minor inconvenience, especially as his replacement was last season's star man Javier Hernandez. Rooney added his name to the scoresheet with a perfect free-kick, which beat Szczesny's despairing grasp to find the top corner. Walcott pulled one back in stoppage time for the visitors but when Young forced Szczesny into an excellent save by his near post straight after the restart, Arsenal's fans could sense what was unfolding and launched into long and passionate backing of their team. It wasn't that Arsenal were incapable. Had Van Persie's first-time volley found the net instead of being superbly repelled by De Gea or Andrei Arshavin's close-range effort not flicked wide off Evans, they would have been back in with a chance. They were incapable of preventing United from swarming all over them though. Szczesny denied Young. Nani contrived to miss from four yards. It was all rather embarrassing for the visitors, who simply could not hold out. When Djourou pulled Rooney down on the edge of the area, he was merely creating the opportunity for England's number one striker to replicate his landmark United goal with his 151st. Rooney then sent Nani through, the Portugal winger calmly chipping Szczesny before making way for Park Ji-sung, who promptly grabbed one himself. Van Persie pulled one back amid the carnage, which also saw Jenkinson become the third Arsenal player in as many Premier League matches to be send off for hauling down Hernandez, having already been booked. At that stage, Arsenal would happily have accepted the final whistle. But their agony was far from being over. Evra was brought down by Walcott, allowing Rooney to complete his hat-trick from the spot and then, in stoppage time, Young added an eighth. The scoreboard told its own story at the final whistle. United will march on to face the threat posed by Roberto Mancini and his men. For Wenger, there are far more searching and deep-rooted questions that, in the wake of the departures of Fabregas and Nasri, may not be easy to answer.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|3||1st Half Goals||1|
|14||Shots on Target||8|
|10||Shots off Target||6|