By Richard Clarke at Old Trafford
Arsenal went down 2-1 at Manchester United on Saturday.
Arsène Wenger's side were chasing the game from the third minute when Robin van Persie pounced on a slip from Thomas Vermaelen to fire home.
They survived Wayne Rooney's penalty miss before half-time and were beginning to mount some pressure when Patrice Evra powered home a close-range header just past the hour.
The goal was followed quickly by the dismissal of Jack Wilshere for second yellow card. As a result, Arsenal struggled to muster much of a fightback.
However the visiting fans kept going, as did their team, and Santi Cazorla curled home a consolation goal with the last kick of the game.
This was a defeat but a much more manageable one than last season. Arsenal must just swallow it and re-group as there is time to recover in the Premier League.
And, on Tuesday, there is a massive game at Schalke.
While the comeback against Reading on Tuesday had been spectacular, it had also drained legs. Olivier Giroud had come off the bench for the final hour at Madejski Stadium and he was the only participant from that game who started this afternoon.
It was the team that had begun against QPR last weekend. Only Aaron Ramsey had started in the 8-2 defeat on this ground last season. Van Persie scored for Arsenal in that fixture but, of course, he had swapped sides over the summer.
The move had naturally put the Dutchman in sharp focus this afternoon - and, within three minutes, he had scored against his old side.
Rafael found space on the right and Vermaelen miscued the Brazilian's low cross into the path of Van Persie, who fired his shot inside the far post.
The strike did nothing for the game as a spectacle. The tempo was in stark contrast to the gargantuan battles between these two sides a decade ago.
Manchester United followed up the goal with a cautious approach while Arsenal were struggling to get their passing game going.
However when the chances did arrive, they came from the home side.
Midway through the first half, Rooney slid Van Persie into space in the right-hand channel and his cross-shot was batted away by Mannone.
Aaron Ramsey's powerful run was completed by a cross-shot that was palmed out by David De Gea and the ball was hurriedly hacked away by the home defence.
But as we reached the half-hour, Manchester United had started to turn up the heat. Antonio Valencia skipped past Andre Santos and eventually the ball found Rooney on the left. His shot was swift and going in the top corner before Mannone flew to his left to make a super save.
Giroud met Cazorla's corner with a header that flew into the stand. But Arsenal had not been able to sustain their attacks.
And, in the final minute of the first half, it might have been worse when Cazorla was adjudged to have handled Young's cross on the right of the area.
The Spaniard protested his innocence but Mike Dean was unmoved. Rooney stepped up but skewed his effort past Mannone's right-hand post.
It was a huge let-off and Arsenal had to be happy to be trailing by just the one goal at half-time.
But they might have conceded at the start of the second half when, after Vermaelen slipped, Van Persie crossed for Valencia at the far post. However the ball got stuck under the feet of the Ecuadorian and his effort was scuffed wide.
Seconds later, Young's low cross was hit goalwards by Rafael and Carrick screwed the rebound well wide.
Arsenal responded to those efforts with more enterprise and a crucial change - Theo Walcott for Ramsey.
Cazorla set up Giroud on edge of the six-yard area. The Frenchman swivelled nicely but his effort hit the side-netting.
The visitors were fighting their way back into the game and, for the first time, were showing some ingenuity around the opposition area.
However, as often happens, that is when Manchester United scored.
Mannone made a fine low save from Van Persie, who was adjudged onside from Young's cross. The resulting corner found its way to Rooney and his ball was headed home by Evra from close-range.
Four minutes later, Arsenal were reduced to 10 men when Wilshere was booked for fouling the goal-scorer.
It stalled the possibility of a comeback from the visiting team. Van Persie and substitute Anderson put the ball in the Arsenal net but were both flagged offside.
In injury time Walcott fed the onrushing Giroud but De Gea saved from close-range.
And, as time ticked away, the Arsenal fans sang manfully about their love for the club. They had done the same thing last season as the game collapsed in front of them.
This was nothing like the same. Wenger's side had been well-beaten on the day but this is one of the most difficult grounds in England from which to prise points.
Cazorla's late curler gave the scoreline a little gloss and the whistle came seconds after the restart.
Arsenal must simply dust themselves down and move on.
- Andre Santos
- Ramsey 52
- Wilshere Yellow Card Red Card
- Arteta Yellow Card
- Cazorla Goal!
- Podolski 81
- Arshavin 81 Yellow Card
- Walcott 52
- De Gea
- Da Silva
- Evra Goal!
- Young Yellow Card
- Cleverley 61 Yellow Card
- Valencia 81
- Rooney Yellow Card
- van Persie Goal! Yellow Card
- Nani 81
- Anderson 61 Yellow Card