A storming first-half display by Arsenal has earned them a 3-0 victory over Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.

The win lifts the Gunners above their rivals into second place in the Premier League table on goal difference, and leaves them just two points adrift of pacesetters Manchester City ahead of the two-week international break.

All three goals came inside the opening 20 minutes of an incredible first half in North London, as Arsenal put on a display all-too-rarely seen so far this season to blow their opponents away. 

Alexis Sanchez was the first player to breach David de Gea's net, flicking home Mesut Ozil's cross at the near post to put his side on their way.

That came just 74 seconds before Ozil got his own name on the scoresheet to double the Gunners' tally in a similar clinical fashion, with the Germany international coolly slotted Theo Walcott's slide-rule pass beyond a stationary De Gea.

It marked the first time that Arsenal had scored twice against their great rivals in a top-flight game since 2011, and left the rattled visitors with a real mountain to climb in the remainder of the contest.

Only once before in Premier League history had United conceded two goals in a shorter time frame and, while they did show signs of growing into the match a little more, it soon became even worse for Louis van Gaal's men. 

Sanchez, in a buoyant mood on the back of his hat-trick against Leicester City last weekend, capped a fine passing move from Arsenal by smashing home number three with less than a quarter of the game played.

The Chilean simply shrugged off the challenge of Matteo Darmian and rifled the ball beyond a rather helpless De Gea to pile the misery on a shell-shocked United.

Having lost just one of their last 13 fixtures against the Gunners in the league, the 13-time champions found themselves three goals down inside the opening 20 minutes of a Prem game for the first time ever.

Once more Van Gaal's men looked to put some attacking moves together, without truly troubling their opponents, but they could take solace from the fact that they had scored three times in each of their last three outings.

Makeshift full-back Ashley Young and Darmian in particular were being left badly exposed, and that was epitomised 10 minutes before half time when Aaron Ramsey simply ghosted in to side-foot a volley over the bar when he really should have been finding the net.

United, with three league wins on the bounce heading into this one, very nearly pulled one back heading into half time but Petr Cech remained big to deny Anthony Martial on the turn from close range.

As one of only two sides to have successfully turned around a three-goal half-time deficit in the Premier League era, United - with Antonio Valencia and Marouane Fellaini now on the field - retained hopes of rescuing a share of the spoils.

It was certainly a positive start to the second 45 minutes for the away side, too - particularly compared to the first half - as Young found a big gap through the middle and got a shot away at goal early on.

Arsenal were still providing an attacking threat of their own, however, with Ozil flashing a half-volley narrowly wide of the target after seeing his initial free kick blocked.

Wayne Rooney, a mere spectator in the opening hour, attempted to find a way through with a half-volley of his own which Cech had to be alert to keep out.

A much-improved Man United continued to press in search of a breakthrough goal in attempt to put the pressure on their rivals, although it was Arsenal - so often cagey in these big matches - who came closest to bagging the game's fourth goal.

In an almost identical attacking move to the one that led to Sanchez's second strike, Hector Monreal pulled the ball back for Ozil to fire a shot on goal from the edge of the box, which was struck right at De Gea on this occasion.

Olivier Giroud came off the bench to replace Walcott and he could have added to his three-goal tally for the season, only for his right-footed shot to be easily collected by De Gea, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also clipped the bar late on.

That proved to be it in terms of chances in the memorable top-flight affair, with United missing out on the chance to reclaim top spot as a result of their slow start in the capital. 

2015-10-04

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