By Editor Wayne Veysey
Rashford brings smiles to Old Trafford
In less than 72 hours, the 18-year-old striker has galvanised not only a team but a club, a season and an entire fanbase. His debut on Thursday night was wonderful enough – two goals in a 5-1 win over Midtjylland – but his Premier League bow entered different territory altogether. Two brilliantly taken first-half goals in less than three minutes followed by a second-half assist propelled Manchester United to a 3-2 win over Arsenal. United supporters have been given little to smile about this season but the teenager’s extraordinary start to his career has transformed the mood at Old Trafford.
Arsenal are bottling title challenge
Arsene Wenger’s team just about got over the line against Leicester but this defeat is a huge blow to their title challenge. While rivals Leicester and Tottenham scored late goals to clinch victories this weekend, the Gunners fluffed their lines against a United team that most observers were hailing beforehand as the weakest they have fielded against Arsenal in this fixture. Wenger’s side must have taken one look at the hosts’ teamsheet and immediately slipped into complacent mode. Once again, they’re bottling a title bid.
Ozil provides hope
The German playmaker was one of the few Arsenal players to play to somewhere near his potential on another big-match letdown by Wenger’s side. Ozil’s superb delivery for Danny Welbeck’s goal was his 18th Premier League assist of the season and he then volleyed in a fine goal to make it 3-2 and give the visitors a platform for a late comeback. Most of the team have fallen out of form at the same time, but Ozil at least provides a semblance of hope for shattered Gooners at the end of a devastating week.
King Louis still rules
The throne has been rocky and the crown has wobbled but King Louis still rules at Old Trafford. This was arguably the best day of Van Gaal’s United reign. Not only was an unexpected victory inspired by a brave team selection founded upon the products of the United academy. There was also a moment of high comedy when the Dutchman, who rarely leaves his seat in the dug-out, took the mickey out of Alexis Sanchez for a perceived dive. Van Gaal dropped to the ground in front of the fourth official to mock the Chilean and send Old Trafford into fits of laughter.
Walcott epitomises frail Arsenal
Culpable for United’s opener, when he lost possession cheaply, Theo Walcott was abject as he failed to justify his inclusion ahead of the likes of Olivier Giroud and Joel Campbell. Sloppy on the ball and more of a liability than an asset, he was hooked just after the hour mark. In truth, Walcott has been poor ever since a calf injury sidelined him in November. The England man is epitomising the frailties of Wenger’s team.