LONDON: A bitterly disappointed Louis Van Gaal declared himself “amazed” after Arsenal and Manchester United demonstrated, in North London, everything which makes the Premier League such a worldwide attraction.
Just when it appeared that Van Gaal was achieving results at Manchester United, just when Arsene Wenger and his Gunners appeared to be runnng out of ammunition, so everything turned around.
An explosive opening 19 minutes saw Arsenal score the three goals which fired them to a remarkable 3-0 victory over United and apparently vindicate Wenger’s impatience with his critics.
Leading the charges were the outstanding Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Ozil set up the opening goal for the Chilean then struck a sweet second himself. Per Mertesacker made two decisive clearances as United struck back but that revival was short-lived. Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott created Arsenal’s third for Sanchez and the game, effectively, was all over.
United’s problems appeared to be in defensive midfield. Neither Morgan Schneiderlin or Bastian Schweinsteiger ever came to terms with the pace and poise of Arsenal’s footbal.
Schweinsteiger was fortunate not to have conceded a penalty – before Arsenal had scored – by holding back Gabriel at a corner. Even on the one occasion he did arrive near Arsenal’s goal, Schweinsteiger’s weak touch allowed Petr Cech to make an easy save.
This was the first time in Premier League history that United had been three-goals down inside 20 minutes and the last time they had been 2-0 down within six minutes was back in December 1992.
Van Gaal said: “I didn’t expect that. I was surprised – not performing our game plan, not the will to win. I didn’t see that. We were top of the league so I was surprised – amazed, maybe that is a better word.
“When you give a team like Arsenal so much space to play football, then you know that you shall lose. It was amazing for me and I am very disappointed.”