Manchester United failed to return to the top of the Barclays Premier League as three goals in the opening 20 minutes gave Arsenal a convincing 3-0 win at the Emirates Stadium.
United had no answer to the Gunners’ early onslaught after Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil scored twice in 74 seconds while Sanchez lashed in a third shortly after.
Louis van Gaal’s side could not contain the pace set by Arsene Wenger’s side, as Arsenal eventually secured a comfortable three points.
The victory was the Gunners’ second in 14 league games against the Red Devils.
With the chance to return back to the Premier League summit, the Dutchman was bewildered by his side’s sluggish start.
“It was a very bad start, without aggression and the will to win,” he said. “That is the first time I have seen that from my team.
“I didn’t expect that. I was surprised. No performing our game-plan, no will to win. We were top of the league so I was surprised – maybe ‘amazed’ is a better word.
“When you give a team like Arsenal so much space to play football, then you know that you shall lose.”
Van Gaal has made United a more robust defensive outfit but against the pace and trickery of Sanchez, Ozil and Theo Walcott, the 20-times champions were all at sea as Arsenal ripped United apart at will.
Michael Carrick and Bastian Schweinsteiger were chasing shadows throughout the encounter, as Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin bossed the midfield.
“The midfielders, especially [Santi] Cazorla and [Mesut] Ozil, had too much space and they have the quality to make the most of it,” said Van Gaal.
“We lost every duel, every second ball. We were not tight on their midfielders, and they can play because they are a fantastic team.
“We have to do better as a team. The defence starts with the attacker.”
After a positive start to the campaign, United’s crushing defeat at the Emirates will be a timely reminder to Van Gaal and his players that there is much room for improvement.
Van Gaal will demand a response but will have to wait until after the international break much to his frustration.
He said: “The biggest concern is that the players are flying out from London to go to the national teams, so you cannot prepare for our match against Everton.
“Last international break we lost against Swansea [before it] but won against Liverpool [after it], so we can do it. There’s not any issue there, but today was a shock for me.”
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