Time to go, Wenger
(Olivier Giroud 90+5)
MAN UNITED 2
(Kieran Gibbs 56-og, Wayne Rooney 85)
Several years ago, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg played a seniors game in Singapore. The occasion was heartbreaking.
McEnroe adored Borg. It was obvious. He propped him up. One of tennis' pioneering power hitters faced the last of the wooden-racket warriors.
McEnroe could have buried his old friend. Instead he carried him. He reined in the power long enough to avoid humiliating Borg.
The modern game had passed Borg by. The same is happening to Arsene Wenger.
Watching Wenger in the dying moments of Arsenal's home defeat by Manchester United yesterday morning (Singapore time) evoked memories of Borg against McEnroe. Everything played out in slow motion.
He was a little too late to react. His decisions were always slightly off. His feel for the game was just out of touch.
The occasion was also heartbreaking.
Wenger must consider walking away at the end of the season to preserve the legacy. Nothing deserves to sully his Arsenal sainthood.
Like Borg in his twilight, Wenger's box of tricks feels strangely analog in a digital environment that risks leaving him looking obsolete.
United did everything, absolutely everything, to make this contest a winnable one for the Gunners. By some distance, Louis van Gaal put out the scruffiest, most patched-up United line-up in the Wenger era.
The Dutchman has dealt with injuries to 40 different players in four months; a staggering statistic that forced the return of the dreaded 3-5-2 formation, which fits Man United about as much as the chorus of Blue Moon.
There is a case to be made that a back three of Tyler Blackett, Chris Smalling and Patrick McNair might struggle to replace many other Premier League defences, but Arsenal still failed to score until injury time at home.
Wenger clutched at that most transparent of straws by blaming luck, but Arsenal were lucky to see Luke Shaw go off after 16 minutes.
They were also lucky to keep Jack Wilshere on the pitch after butting Marouane Fellaini in the chest.
And still, the Red Devils threatened to roll over their dithering opponents.
They managed only one shot on target. Robin van Persie's name might as well be added to the missing persons list. Angel di Maria's erratic shooting suggested he'd smothered his boots in Vaseline.
Yet somehow, they won.
But this wasn't a smash-and-grab burglary for United. This was Arsenal leaving the door unlocked, rolling out the red carpet and handing over the combination code to the safe.
If anything, Wenger should be charged with criminal negligence.
United had no players. But Arsenal had no ideas.
Injuries weakened United's playing stocks. Transfer market incompetence weakened Arsenal.
They are at least two or three players from finishing in the top four (and perhaps half a dozen signings away from a serious crack at the title).
As Nacho Monreal proved in United's second goal, a couple of centre backs are essential, along with a fullback and maybe even a goalkeeper (see Wojciech Szczesny and Kieran Gibbs in United's first goal.)
And the inflated hyperbole surrounding Wilshere really must stop now.
English football's obsession with finding the "Next Big Thing" sees promising players stamped as practically perfect in every way far too quickly.
Unfortunately, Wilshere played like Mary Poppins (he certainly head-butted like her). The reckless, headless chicken was back, clucking and sputtering but offering no real danger beyond a single tame shot.
His erratic form continues to worry, but the injury streak is the greater concern.
He's out again and Aaron Ramsey's average outing hardly inspired confidence.
Despite the occasional flashes of sexy football, the Gunners continue to wobble with that unattractive soft underbelly.
They are less aesthetically pleasing and more of an exasperating punchline, like Kim Kardashian at the United Nations, pretty to look at but no real threat to anyone else in the room.
Seventeen points from 12 games are the lowest return for the club since 1982.
Arsenal are in irreversible decline, but Wenger emphasised their domination.
Once a magnificent manager, he now sounds like a proud man in denial.
Thanks to the unhelpful power structure at the Emirates, the manager finds himself in a unique position. The Arsenal board grants him full autonomy. He can determine his own future and that's the inherent problem.
Like Borg, Wenger is in control of his sporting legacy.
Unlike Borg, he will not walk away.
WALK ON, VAN GAAL
ON A ROLL: Louis van Gaal (above) leads Man United to fourth in the table.
After leading them to their first away win of the season at Arsenal and fourth in the table, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was still not pleased.
He believes there is plenty of room for improvement from his United side.
"I was not pleased with the way we played in the first half," van Gaal said, when asked if this was his best win as United boss to date.
"I don't think so. But it was an away game against a top team and we have won. Okay, then I can say yes. It's also the right moment to win this game.
"I have to say the first 35 minutes, we gave the ball away so easily that it's not possible for a top team. Because of that, Arsenal created a lot of chances.
"Fortunately, we have a very good goalkeeper and, after the first 35 minutes, you saw that we were getting back into the game and created a few possibilities."
"I told them at half-time that when we keep the ball, when we show confidence, then we shall create many chances.
"We created at least three big chances. (Angel) di Maria could have finished the game too. And, on two occasions, it was an easy pass to give to di Maria and Wayne Rooney, but the pass was not right.
"That was not a difficult pass in my opinion, so we have to improve on that.
Though he may not have been pleased, he said: "I am very happy, of course."
Luke Shaw was forced off after just 16 minutes as van Gaal saw yet another player added to his ever-lengthening injury list, but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss was pleased with the efforts of his inexperienced defence as Chris Smalling, Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair grew stronger as the game progressed.
"I hope our players will soon return from injuries because it's unbelievably difficult to create the consistency in the team as I have to change my line-up every week," he said.
"Maybe you don't know, but I am a coach who always has the same line-up, maybe I change one or two. But not constantly so many players.
"I have also changed the formation. It is not always good to create optimism in the team.
"Shaw has to play. He is back from the international break with the English national team and he is not fit enough. We make him fit.
"Then he is injured with yet another injury. His ankle, you saw that. I have to give (Ashley) Young a game, but he is not fit enough to play 90 minutes.
"I think the players have done fantastic. Blackett, McNair and Shaw - how old are they? You play against a top team like Arsenal and they are always changing positions, so you need a lot of communication. I think that was pretty good."
Arsenal have endured their worst start to a campaign in 32 years and, as United entered the Champions League positions, Arsene Wenger saw his side slip to eighth and the Frenchman was left frustrated after seeing his side start the match so well.
"It's a game that we dominated for 80 per cent of the time and we haven't dominated a game like that against Manchester United for a long time," he said.
"At the end of the day, we were not efficient enough in the final third and we made a mistake at the back which they took advantage of. That's the history of the game. We had plenty of chances. Their goalkeeper is Man of the Match. That tells you the story of the game.
"Once we were 1-0 down, we had possession in the final third that they had to defend. We missed a few opportunities in the second half, even in the final 20 minutes. At the moment, defensively we are a bit naive."
Wenger confirmed an injury to Wojciech Szczesny which forced the goalkeeper off after Kieran Gibbs' own goal, but claims it is not serious.
However, Jack Wilshere could be out for some time after being replaced following a heavy challenge from McNair. - PA Sport.
How the game went
A Kieran Gibbs own-goal and a late effort from skipper Wayne Rooney handed Manchester United their first victory on the road in over seven months, with Arsenal managing only a consolation goal through substitute Olivier Giroud.
United enter the top four of the Premier League following their maiden three-point haul away from Old Trafford.
Former Red Devil Danny Welbeck missed a couple of decent chances to make manager Louis van Gaal eat his words, after the Dutchman sold the Manchester-born forward to the Gunners over the summer.
Jack Wilshere should have scored before he was lucky to not see a red card having shoved his head into Marouane Fellaini's chest, but United held on until Gibbs turned Antonio Valencia's low cross past his own goalkeeper.
Rooney doubled United's lead as he and Angel di Maria hit Arsenal on the counter-attack and, although di Maria was guilty of missing a great chance to add a third, the returning Giroud's strike could not spark a late revival for the hosts.