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Arsenal vs. Manchester United: the good, the bad, the ugly

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SPOILER: one of these will have a lot more than the other two.

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Arsenal beat Manchester United comprehensively yesterday, so let's look at exactly what worked (most of it), what didn't (very little), and what just looked really amusingly bad. It's the triumphant return of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

The Good

  • Mesut Özil. Often taken to task (by some, at least) for performances in Big Games, nobody could argue that he delivered on Sunday. He assisted Alexis Sanchez's opening goal, and scored Arsenal's second only about a minute later. He was a constant threat both with the ball at his feet and off the ball, and generally gave the United defense fits until coming off to an ovation late in the game.
  • Theo Walcott. This was almost without question Theo's best game as a center forward. He assisted twice, with a brilliant cut-back to Özil first and then the good decision to just give Alexis the ball in the final third. But his movement pulled the Manchester United defense apart, and the threat of his pace was a constant issue for them. He did everything you would expect Theo Walcott to do on his best day, other than score himself.
  • The back six. I'm throwing Francis Coquelin in here even though the formation doesn't necessarily work this way, but all of Arsenal's defensive-minded players showed up after a poor showing at midweek. United's forwards didn't threaten at all in the first half, and while there were a few near breakthroughs in the second, Petr Čech answered the call each time United actually managed to get a shot off. In addition to Čech, Héctor Bellerín impressed, using his pace and technique to relieve pressure and get the ball from the back to midfield and beyond.
  • Arsenal's game plan. It's pretty clear that Arsène Wenger set out to take the fight to United from the outset, and it worked perfectly. They were on the back foot immediately, and the speed and dynamism of Arsenal's attacking front was something that the defense just couldn't cope with. The first twenty minutes weren't a fluke, and neither was the solid defending thereafter.
  • Alexis' goals. They were both amazing. Go watch them again.

The Bad

  • Arsenal probably could have scored a lot more than they did, and honestly probably should have had one or two more goals. Yes, we're nit-picking.

The Ugly

  • Aaron Ramsey's volley. At that point, winning by three goals, it didn't really end up mattering all that much. But it looked bad coming off his foot, and Ramsey knew what a chance he had to get his first goal of the season and really put it to United. It was a tough play to make, but we've seen him do it before, and really all he had to do was get it on frame. Oh well.
  • Marouane Fellaini and Wayne Rooney. Stop with the close-ups, already.