Some seriously good food in great company. Roy Keane may not agree, but this is the way to start a matchday. Vocal chords lubricated by polar opposites of red it was time to take a pew.
Could we follow up last seasons improved performances against big rivals on the road and record a rare home success against the red half of Manchester?
Twenty minutes in we had our answer. The three goals that made up half of the ‘holic pound prediction arrived in that astonishing opening burst as Arsenal reponded to their midweek debacle.
Few had seen that coming and United certainly didn’t. Pressured from the first whistle they were a pale shadow of the teams of the Ferguson years. Make no mistake though, we exposed their weakness with as good a performance as we have mustered this term.
"It was a positive response to the negativity of the preceding few days"
A horrible week was cast aside in just six minutes when Alexis manufactured a magical finish to Mesut Ozil’s cross. Still reeling from that blow United found the deficit doubled a minute later when Ozil turned goalscorer from Theo Walcott’s set up.
It was heady stuff and the home support roared their approval. It seems a while since the atmosphere at the Grove was as good as that.
When United ventured forward they invariably found themselves foundering on the rock that was Francis Coquelin. Lacking in ideas they were a third strike behind in less than a quarter of the match when the impressive Alexis engineered his own opening before smashing the ball beyond the despairing dive of De Gea from fully twenty yards out.
It might have got even better but Aaron Ramsey volleyed high and wide from an Alexis cross. United attempted to respond as the half drew to a close but Petr Cech denied Martial, the one United player who emerged with any credit on the day.
The first half may have been a demonstration of what can be achieved when we hit the heights, but the second showed that we can adopt the pragmatic approach too. A disciplined defensive display closed out the match.
United threatened just the once more. Cech was quick to deny Schweinsteiger. With a quarter of an hour remaining Walcott and Ozil made way for Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arsenal got on the front foot again. Both substitutes went close to adding to the scoreline, but the former shot straight at De Gea while the Ox saw his glorious chip bounce back off the crossbar.
The only negative on the day came when Alexis departed the action with what appeared to be a groin strain. As Arsene Wenger said later we couldn’t stop him joining up with the Chilean squad for the upcoming international break. Please send him back in one piece, thank you.
At the whistle most of the team quite rightly milked the euphoric applause with an impromptu lap of honour. It was that sort of a day and a positive response to the negativity of the preceding few days.