While most football fans were not in the least bit surprised at the way Man United started the 2011-2012 football season, and expected the Red Devils to pick up three points when the Gunners came visiting, no one could have anticipated the massacre that would befall Arsenal. This fixture has always been tricky for Man United historically, but with the summer transfer window having seen United strengthen its ranks with the signings of Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea, Arsenal were unfortunate enough to lose their two most influential players from the previous season – Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Samir Nasri to Man City.
The match began with a sense of dread for most Gooners and on 21 minutes after Danny Welbeck opened the scoring. A few minutes later however, Arsenal were gifted a golden chance to restore parity when Jonny Evans felled Theo Walcott in the box. Newly appointed captain Robin van Persie stepped up to take the spot kick but David de Gea produced a brilliant save to deny the Dutchman. One minute after van Persie’s miss, Ashley Young announced his arrival to the Man United fans but cutting inside from the left flank and curling a peach of a shot past the flailing Arsenal goalkeeper. It was at that moment that every watching fan knew the unthinkable was about to happen.
Carl Jenkinson brought down Ashley Young late in the first half and the talismanic Wayne Rooney stepped up to curl home the freekick. United was deservedly up 3-0 but Theo Walcott scored to send the teams in at halftime with only two goals separating them.
After the break United was rampant. Rooney curled home a second freekick to make the score 4-1 before he sent Nani clean through to score with a cheeky chip. Van Persie got another goal back for Arsenal but Ji Sung Park came on to score United’s sixth goal and Rooney soon secured his hattrick from the penalty spot after Theo Walcott had felled the impressive Ashley Young. Young himself scored another late stunner to leave the Gunners in tatters and the Man United fans joyous. Man United 8-2 Arsenal the score line read. It was a performance for the ages.