Arsenal rip Man Utd to pieces as Sanchez and Ozil run riot

Theo Walcott hails 'the best football I have ever been involved in' as Gunners shoot down United at the Emirates

Alexis Sanchez
(Image credit: Michael Regan/Getty)

Arsenal 3 Manchester United 0

It's nothing if not a rollercoaster ride being a Gooner. Five days after after slumping to a 2-1 defeat to Olympiakos in the Champions League, Arsenal cruised to a 3-0 win over Manchester United to move above the Red Devils on points.

Arsenal now lie second on 16 points, the same number as United who trail on account of their inferior goal difference, while Manchester City are back at the top of the Premier League with 18 points following their 6-1 thrashing of Newcastle of Sunday.

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It was Arsenal's best performance of the season by far, one that blew away United in the first 20 minutes thanks to a brace of goals from Alexis Sanchez and one from Mesut Ozil. United tightened after the break but they never looked like staging a comeback and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain almost made it 4-0 when his chipped effort rattled the crossbar late on.

"We started strong and pressed very high, explained Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who had spent the past few days defending his team and his coaching after the Olympiakos game. "We did not give them any chances to score and that was vital. We surprised them with our start."

Aaron Ramsey and Ozil combined on six minutes to allow Sanchez to back-heel the ball past David de Gea, and a minute later the German doubled the Gunners advantage after a surging run from Theo Walcott. Sanchez made it 3-0 on 19 minutes with a blistering 20-yard strike as United leaked three goals in the opening 20 minutes of a Premier League game for the first time. "That was the worse United have been under me, we were not able to give a normal performance," reflected United manager Louis van Gaal.

Things looked much better from an Arsenal perspective however. "There was a desire from kick-off, we looked very strong and were dominating at home against a big team and we should be playing like that every week", was the verdict of Theo Walcott. "That first-half we were unbelievable, no-one could have dealt with us, it was the best football I have ever been involved in. It was the Arsenal of old."

The challenge for Walcott and his teammates is to reproduce that form on a weekly basis, rather than now and again, if they wish to win their first league title in a dozen years. "This game will send out a message to the Premier League that we are ready to have a go this season," concluded Walcott, who said the win was "for the manager".

Wenger will have enjoyed the dedication, as he would the manner of the victory which has - for the time being, at least - silenced his detractors.

Asked what he thought of the criticism directed his way after the Olympiakos game, Wenger replied: "It's [criticism] always excessive, we've played some great games, we've won four away games. I have managed many teams and never has one played at the same level from the first game to the last."

As for what Arsenal need to do to reach the Champions League last 16 after losing their opening two matches, Wenger said the squad required "desire" and "focus". He added: "That's where we must step up. We won't have that problem against Bayern, of course."

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