Sanchez bags a double as Arsenal sink Manchester United 3-0
Arsenal hares humiliate van Gaal's tortoises
(Alexis Sanchez 6, 19, Mesut Oezil 7)
MAN UNITED 0
Reports of Manchester United's resurgence have been greatly exaggerated.
When they come up against counterattacking opponents, they collapse.
When they encounter raw pace in midfield, they implode.
And when they face a powerful, incisive combination of the two, the Red Devils are revealed to be little more than a hapless rabble.
Arsenal were as inspired as United were inept this morning (Singapore time), wrapping up the three points with three goals that deserve to be framed and displayed in the counter-attacking hall of fame.
Louis van Gaal's plodders were not beaten. They were butchered, their bloody entrails left on the Emirates turf.
And their manager's ego was ripped out and cut to pieces.
Van Gaal's selections often seem affected by a narcissistic streak and his "look at me" line-up against Arsenal included Ashley Young at left back, with Matteo Darmian on the other side.
The Dutchman was either rewarding a player's commitment, allowing Young to slot in behind Memphis Depay. Or he was concerned about Mesut Oezil drifting out to the right. Whatever the reasoning, the reckless move was either going to be a masterstroke or a colossal mistake.
Arsenal provided a definitive answer within six minutes. The Gunners surged along the right, with Oezil the creative fulcrum. He lost Young not once but twice, before finally receiving Aaron Ramsey's pass on the right and sliding across for Alexis Sanchez to back-flick the opener.
The finish was Zola-like. Young's AWOL marking was amateur-like.
United had 75 seconds to lick their wounds when the Gunners opened them up again with the force of an eager medical student examining his first cadaver.
Oezil, at his impudent, elusive best, swivelled his hips, swaggered through midfield and swopped passes with Theo Walcott.
The Englishman spun Daley Blind like a roulette wheel. His pass to Oezil was precise; the German's low finish simply perfect.
Suddenly, instantly, van Gaal's myth was ruthlessly exposed. His talk of transition and philosophy was pulled back like a tatty curtain to reveal not a man, but a ponderous, plodding mess.
A midfield of Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Carrick exudes pedigree and warrants respect, but lacks any semblance of speed.
To highlight a tale of two strikers, it was hard to recall if Anthony Martial had touched the ball after 20 minutes, when Sanchez knocked over three bowling pins masquerading as United players to thump in a sumptuous third.
From a deep throw, the ball found the Chilean on the left, and he carved a trench past Darmian, Mata and Chris Smalling to smash his drive into the top corner.
United had never fallen three goals behind within 20 minutes of a Premier League game before. They were fortunate it wasn't four or five by the interval.
Darmian and Young appeared to have been struck down by a Taser before kick-off. Dazed and confused, the pair underlined their manager's tactical blunders.
Christmas came early for the outstanding Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard flicked passes around Schweinsteiger with giddy enthusiasm.
Arsenal's ability to accelerate away from wheezing markers was genuinely startling, exposing both United's laughable claim to the throne and the EPL's ongoing identity crisis.
If the Red Devils are among the best England has to offer, then heaven help the domestic pretenders in the Champions League.
Martial was largely anonymous, but Wayne Rooney was utterly awful, a benchwarmer in all but name.
Only his name is keeping him on the pitch at the moment.
Not surprisingly, van Gaal addressed his shortcomings, hauling off Darmian and Depay for Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini in the second half.
Valencia and Young essentially became wing backs, with Fellaini foraging in a left-sided position that suited him last season.
United played with a greater degree of urgency - it would've been physically impossible to play with any less - but Petr Cech was still a casual specator until the 62nd minute, when he pushed away Rooney's stinging drive.
But that was about as good as it got. And it got nowhere close to being good for United.
This was a waking nightmare, a pertinent reminder that van Gaal talks a great game whilst wearing the Emperor's New Clothes.
Arsenal showed the Red Devils for what they really were: Imbalanced, incomplete and far too pedestrian.
Slow and unsteady won't win any races for van Gaal's tortoises.
- ARSENAL: Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Oezil (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 75), Alexis Sanchez (Kieran Gibbs 81), Theo Walcott (Olivier Giroud 75)
- MAN UNITED: David de Gea, Matteo Darmian (Antonio Valencia 46), Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Ashley Young, Michael Carrick, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Juan Mata (James Wilson 82), Wayne Rooney, Memphis Depay (Marouane Fellaini 46), Anthony Martial
- Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
- Sergio Aguero (Man City)
- Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
- Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
- Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)
- Graziano Pelle (Southampton)
- Odion Ighalo (Watford)
- Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
- Bafetimbi Gomis (Swansea)
- Dimitri Payet (West Ham)
- Andre Ayew (Swansea)
YESTERDAY’S OTHER RESULTS
- Chelsea 1 Southampton 3
- Everton 1 Liverpool 1
- Swansea 2 Tottenham 2