Jose Mourinho's splendid managerial record against Arsene Wenger is much storied about. The Portuguese had lost to the Frenchman only once before this game in 15 attempts, that too in the 2015 FA Community shield. But with a Champions League spot at stake and the Europa League seemingly the best bet to reach there, Mourinho opted to field a weakened eleven on Sunday.
Mourinho rung in the changes with as many as eight new faces in the first eleven which started against Celta Vigo last Thursday. That would play a part as Arsenal won 2-0 and gave their own top-four hopes a slight boost. For United, however, the loss is no catastrophe.
They have a very important Europa League semifinal second leg against Celta Vigo coming up and their star players like Paul Pogba, Eric Bailly and Marcus Rashford have got themselves a well-deserved rest.
Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata started the game with the interesting news being the selection of academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe at right back. The youngster would make quite an impression on his full debut for the Red Devils as he managed to keep Alexis Sanchez fairly quiet throughout the game. So much so that the Chilean started drifting in often to find more joy.
Arsenal opted to go with former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck upfront while Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Oxlade-Chamberlain were deployed behind him. Though Arsenal assumed control of the first half, it was Man United who began brightly with Martial running the channels well. He saw an early effort saved by Petr Cech before Wayne Rooney capitalised on a poor backpass from Rob Holding but Cech came up with a brilliant save.
Even then, the save of the first half came from David De Gea who got down brilliantly to palm away Aaron Ramsey's grounder from close range. With the game in the balance at half-time, a piece of good luck gave Arsenal the lead. Granit Xhaka's long-ranger took a looping deflection off Ander Herrera and ended up in the back of the net.
Even as United were plotting an equaliser, the second goal came quickly after as Welbeck powered home Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross. That forced Mourinho to bring on Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard but the fact that he took out Ander Herrera was an indication that this game was not high on Mourinho's priorities.
Arsenal saw the game out comfortably but not before another United youngster, Scott McTominay, made his debut for the club. Manchester United's 25-game unbeaten run in the Premier league came to an end at the hands of Arsene Wenger but it is nothing more than a hiccup as United turn their attention towards an all important Europa League semifinal second leg.