The stage was set. There couldn’t have been a better time for the current Arsenal team to visit Old Trafford. The Red Devils had fourteen senior players out injured. Pretty much all of theirfirst choice outfielders. The much maligned Louis Van Gaal had no choice but to field a much weakened side. In effect, the team he fielded was an under 21 squad. No one gave Manchester United a chance in hell of getting a result before kick-off.

But Arsenal, true to form, fluffed their lines and lived up to their ‘bottle merchants’ moniker.

The match started in slow fashion, with the title favorites seemingly unwilling to take charge of the match as they were expected to. The youngsters of United, on becoming aware of this, dared to be a little adventurous and the league debutant striker, Marcus Rashford, dribbled up the left wing to the Arsenal box where he was tackled right on the edge of the penalty-area by Gabriel Paulista.

United fans and some of the players calledfor a penalty, but the referee Craig Pawson, correctly ruled that the foul was just outside.

The United youngsters maintained their attack, and 29 minutes into the first half, from what should have been a routine turnover and counter attack, Theo Walcott conceded possession a few yards from his own box and the result was Guillermo Varela putting in a cross from the right wing, Gabriel failing to clear and United’s newest teenage sensation gleefully tucking it away.

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That was one - nil. 2 minutes and 45 seconds later, another cross from the right saw the young Rashford unmarked and heading home his and United’s second. Old Trafford was buzzing.

Arsenal found themselves in 2-0 hole

Arsenal finding themselves 2-0 down within three minutes were stunned, but that still didn’t seem to jolt them to life. They were slow, sluggish, and clearly out of ideas. However, in the 41st minute, Danny Welbeck headed in Arsenal’s first goal from a Mesut Ozil free kick, giving Arsenal fans hope of a possible comeback, but the half ended with the score line intact.

The second half began in pretty much the same fashion the first half played out, with United having the better attacking play and Arsenal generally looking like the under 21 side. And on 65 minutes, United got a well deserved third goal from some decent build up play and Marcus Rashford holding the ball up well and setting up Ander Herrera, who had made a run from deep and shot from outside the box.

Two goals and an assist for the young Englishman Marcus Rashford, and a debut he would have only dreamed of.

Four minutes after Herrera’s goal, Mesut Ozil scored Arsenal’s second, making the score line 3-2 with 21 minutes left to play. Some Arsenal fans might have still believed, but the truth was, the game as well as Arsenal’s title challenge were all but over as this was the most limp and lifeless performance by any Arsenal team in recent years.

Had United been able to field their strongest team, we may very well have seen a repeat of the 8-2 drubbing Arsenal received on the same ground in 2011. 21 minutes plus 5 minutes of added time was not enough to see an insipid Arsenal side take anything from this game.

Manchester United were worthy winners and Arsene Wenger’s team will almost certainly not win the premier league title this season. It’s not likely that the long suffering Arsenal fans will see a premier league title under Wenger, however long his tenure is set to last for, this may have been their best chance.

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