LONDON, Oct 4, (AFP): Arsenal produced a scintillating start to overwhelm inform Manchester United 3-0 in the Premier League on Sunday and give embattled manager Arsene Wenger something to smile about. Wenger was pilloried in the British press after Tuesday’s 3-2 home defeat by Olympiakos left his side struggling to avoid a group-stage exit in the Champions League, but five days on he presided over a win that equalled his best league result against United.
Alexis Sanchez was the hosts’ inspiration, scoring with a neat back-heel and an 18-yard howitzer inside the first 19 minutes to take his tally to six goals in three games after last weekend’s hat-trick at Leicester City and a midweek header against Olympiakos. Mesut Ozil joined in the early onslaught, netting from Theo Walcott’s seventh-minute cut-back, as Arsenal secured a win that took them up to second place, two points below leaders Manchester City.
United were seeking a fourth consecutive league win, which would have seen them return to the summit, but instead Louis van Gaal’s met with a defeat that saw them slip below Arsenal on goal difference. It was United’s first loss at the Emirates Stadium since May 2011 and the manner of defeat raised questions about the durability of their title credentials, just as Arsenal were strengthening theirs. With three central midfielders on the pitch, United became a lot less porous, even if the decision to keep Morgan Schneiderlin on the bench was puzzling. Belatedly, they began to make inroads, Cech repelling long-range efforts from Young and Rooney and then bravely diving to save at the feet of Schweinsteiger.
But Arsenal squandered opportunities of their own, with Ozil and substitute Olivier Giroud spurning presentable chances by sweeping low shots straight at De Gea. A chastening afternoon for United was summed up when Rooney ballooned a shot well clear of the bar in the closing stages, prompting howls of derision from Arsenal’s gleeful fans.
Earlier, Everton and Liverpool shared the spoils after an occasionally ill-tempered 225th Merseyside derby finished 1- 1 at Goodison Park — the sixth draw in seven meetings between the teams. Danny Ings put Liverpool ahead in the 41st minute when he was left unmarked inside the Everton six-yard box and nodded home James Milner’s corner.
But untidy defending by Liverpool allowed Everton to level in first-half stoppage time, with Romelu Lukaku slamming home after Emre Can’s attempted clearance had cannoned against his team-mate Martin Skrtel.
The result preserved Everton’s onepoint advantage over their city rivals, leaving Roberto Martinez’s side seventh and Liverpool 10th. Meanwhile, Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen scored with a pair of fine 25-yard free-kicks as Tottenham Hotspur twice hit back to secure a 2-2 draw at Swansea City. Swansea were twice in front, courtesy of a 16th-minute Andre Ayew header and a 31st-minute own goal by Harry Kane, but Eriksen replied on each occasion to extend Spurs’ unbeaten run to seven league games.