A first-half brace courtesy of first-team debutant Marcus Rashford – as well as a deflected strike from Ander Herrera was enough to see United past their old foes once again, in a game that promised much more.
Gunners underwhelm as United take full advantage
Arsenal succumbed to defeat for the second time in a matter of days during a five-goal thriller at Old Trafford, despite the hosts clearly fielding a weakened side due to an unhealthy plethora of injuries to key first-team players.
Marcus Rashford – who scored two on his senior debut in midweek – doubled up with his first Premier League brace, against one of the league’s best goalkeepers in Petr Cech.
Between themselves, Gabriel and Nacho Monreal looked seemingly out-of-sync and allowed the pacey youngster far too much time and space to get himself into threatening positions – as gaps in midfield were evident to see, and the hosts exploited this to good effect.
The opener came from virtually nothing, in-fact, stemmed from Theo Walcott losing possession in his own half with some unnecessary dribbling. Overrun in midfield, Herrera won possession and immediately fizzed the ball towards the right-hand side, where Guillermo Varela swung in a teasing cross – spelling all sorts of danger for the Gunners backline to deal with.
Juan Mata missed the ball and just as the visitors looked as though they’d get the ball clear, Rashford popped up in the right place at the right time to slot home from close-range. He completed his quick-fire double at the end of a well-worked piece of attacking movement in the final third. Jesse Lingard darted toward the edge of the area, passed toward Mata who flicked the ball on forward for Varela – and the return pass was weighted perfectly for Rashford to head into the bottom corner.
Özil and Welbeck fight back valiantly
A dream debut, Old Trafford roared in delight. Danny Welbeck – who was at United from age eight – headed past a helpless David de Gea from Mesut Özil’s drilled set-piece delivery on the stroke of half-time to give the visitors some hope of fighting back into the contest.
In the second-half, Özil amongst a few other Arsenal players were actively attempting to make things happen, to seemingly no avail. The silky German, not known for his work ethic or defensive contribution, was covering ground like a hornet to help keep the pressure on United when they did have possession. His half-volley finish past de Gea was just what he deserved, regardless of the fortunate bounce or not.
Some more questionable defending, half-chances and action aplenty, but Arsenal were ultimately unable to close the gap on their immediate title rivals in Leicester and Tottenham whilst Manchester United themselves completed a morale-boosting week – having won three consecutive games in quick succession.