Arsenal were humiliated and overrun by the young Manchester United side
Sir Alex Ferguson no longer battles his great French rival with verbal jousts and mental powerplays. He simply bests Arsene Wenger with goals, points and titles. Three games into this Premier League season, Manchester United stand eight points and a country mile ahead of Arsenal.
Wenger may have been undermined by the enforced sales of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. He may be battling an unsympathetic media and a disaffected support. He may have been forced to play the champions deprived of half a first team by injury and suspension. Yet one thing is clear, his Arsenal will not depose United this season.
This was as humiliating as it had threatened to be; painfully under-resourced Arsenal brutally overrun.
United placed Nani and Young against the full backs; Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck down the middle. "It's still Arsenal," Ferguson had warned. "We're not taking anything for granted." They didn't need to. United were at Arsenal's throats from the off. No need to match Arsenal with a midfield three, just look to feed their wingers and play balls in behind a disorganised back line.
Three goals behind before the half was out, chance after chance ceded to the home side as inexperience and incoherence told, at times Arsenal's best protection was United's desire to showboat.
Not in a 115 years had Arsenal conceded eight goals in the League. This set confirmed Wenger's worst run of results in the English league - six league fixtures without a solitary victory. And they are without a goal in their opening two League games for the first time in 42 years.
If an 8-2 thrashing was not enough for Wenger, Arsenal were reduced to 10-men when Carl Jenkinson was sent off for a second booking.
United joined Manchester City at the summit of the division after a day of pillaging London clubs. Imagining Arsenal returning to such elevated heights is now harder than imagining them parting company with Wenger.
Published: August 29, 2011 04:00 AM