Former Manchester United player Danny Welbeck helped Arsenal condemn United to a first league defeat in 25 games, scoring the second as Arsenal won comfortably 2-0.
Making eight changes to the side that faced Celta Vigo on Thursday, Mourinho rested stars like Rashford, Pogba and Eric Bailly, while handing a Premier League debut to Axel Tuanzebe.
The first few minutes were fast-paced as both sides had a few attacks. United had the first chance but Rooney steered a Mata cross over the goal. Minutes later, Danny Welbeck’s control of a Gibbs cross, saw the ball land at Sanchez’s feet but the Chilean was met with a smart save by David de Gea. United, however, did not lose momentum as Rooney threaded a ball into Martial’s path but the Frenchman was denied by Cech. Amazingly, all this came within the first 10 minutes. Soon, Ramsey’s shot at the edge of the box required a diving de Gea save.
At the quarter hour mark, Welbeck lost Jones but was denied by a smart Herrera block. After absorbing most of the Arsenal pressure, United started enjoying more possession of the ball. A Mkhitaryan flick on from a Mata free kick eluded all blue shirts and the Emirates collectively heaved a sigh of relief.
But United did not dominate like they should have and to be fair were way too casual with the ball. There were a lot echoes to the ‘van Gaal philosophy’ as United enjoyed possession but did not do much with it.
Wayne Rooney wasted a glorious chance on the 32 minute mark as he capitalized on Ryan Holding’s weak pass to Cech. The skipper could only fire it at the onrushing goalkeeper. It was the last notable piece of action in the first half.
The second half had a slow and boring pace as both sides seemingly refused to take charge of the match. Debutant Axel Tuanzebe was the first in the line of duty as he held off Alexis Sanchez down United’s right. It was Arsenal who broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute as Xhaka picked up the ball 30 yards out. His shot took a wicked deflection off Ander Herrera and looped into David de Gea’s goal.
Like the visit last here last season, United were finished off in a short span of time. Danny Welbeck returned to haunt United again as he nodded home Oxlade-Chamberlain’s looping cross. Welbeck remarkably managed to head the ball from a tight space between both Smalling and Tuanzebe.
Mourinho made a double change after the second goal, bringing on Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard in place of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Herrera. United never really looked like equalising. Rooney went closest with a 25-yard free kick forcing Cech to make a low save at the near post.
Wenger shored up the defence by bringing on Francis Coquelin in place of Xhaka and Bellerin in place of Chamberlain. Mourinho handed young Scott McTominay his first ever United appearance after coming on for Juan Mata.
The only positive United could take was the effort by debutant Axel Tuanzebe against arguably the Premier League’s most explosive forward – Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez barely had a sniff at goal and was shut out for most of, if not the whole game.