Rashford repeats dream debut as Man Utd stun Arsenal
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | February 28, 2016
Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal
- Rashford’s quickfire double puts Red Devils in command
- Welbeck brings Gunners back into it before half-time
- Man Utd without a dozen first-teamers and Rojo forced off
- Herrera seals home victory with deflected effort
- Ozil follows up earlier assist with consolation strike
Gunners shot down by ‘Roy of the Rovers’ Rashford
Arsenal were favourites with the bookies to win at Old Trafford for the first time ever, but Manchester United’s teenage sensation Marcus Rashford had other ideas.
Not content with a double on his Red Devils’ debut in the Europa League in midweek, rampant Rashford bagged a first-half brace on his Premier League bow, and later set up Ander Herrera to further dent Gunners hopes of a first Premier League title in a dozen years.
Former Man Utd forward Danny Welbeck made things interesting, pulling one back for Arsene Wenger’s men with a deft set-piece header before the break, who are now 11/4 with Coral to lift the top-flight trophy.
Vine didn't hang around. Van Gaal! https://t.co/XUmPqUnc61
— Coral (@Coral) February 28, 2016
Louis van Gaal, eccentrically throwing himself to the floor to protest about diving as the above illustrates, made it three wins from three in a defining week for his Old Trafford tenure, despite Mesut Ozil grabbing what proved to be a consolation for the visitors.
Theatre of Dreams a hospital for walking wounded
A Red Devils victory was all the more remarkable given how a dozen first-team players, including all natural senior centre backs, captain Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial, were all out injured.
Welbeck’s tackle on the recently returned Marco Rojo forced the Argentine off with yet another youngster, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, given a debut by Van Gaal.
David de Gea was back in goal, though, and smothered early on when Ozil’s through-ball found Nacho Monreal up from left back for Arsenal.
The Gunners, boasting a fluid frontline of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott and Welbeck, interchanged in attack superbly, but were left stunned by two United goals in three minutes either side of the half-hour mark.
Ruthless Rashford capitalises
First Guillermo Varela, notably David Moyes’ first signing at Old Trafford, crossed from the right when finding Monreal out of position and Laurent Koscielny unable to cut it out. The ball found Rashford in the right place at the right time to punish Gabriel Paulista’s botched clearance.
Moments later, Rashford made it four senior goals in the space of less than 72 hours, glancing in Jesse Lingard’s centre with Arsenal marking notably absent.
While Man Utd’s future made a real impact, their past came back to haunt them before half-time through Welbeck. He popped up between Rojo and Morgan Schneiderlin to nod in an Ozil free-kick.
Rashford, on a hat-trick, showed maturity to not shoot himself when the Red Devils countered 20 minutes into the second 45, and waited for the midfield runner in Herrera before squaring to the Spaniard to score via a deflection off Koscielny.
Embarrassment for Wenger
No Gunners player was within 15 yards of Basque box-to-box player Herrera, also a scorer in the 5-1 Europa rout of Midtjylland on Thursday. Francis Coquelin deserted his duty big time.
Although De Gea then saved from Welbeck, Ozil followed up by pull another back for Arsenal but in vain as United kept their decade-long wait for a league win at Old Trafford going.
It leaves Wenger’s men five points adrift of Premier League leaders Leicester City, and it’s a gap there are now doubts over whether they can bridge.
Could Man Utd make the top four? Odds of 3/1 say they can, with the Red Devils three points behind neighbours Manchester City.
For more tips, reports, previews and features, check out Coral’s Premier League page.