Eight reasons why Manchester United's 8-2 rout of Arsenal is just the beginning for Sir Alex Ferguson's next generation

The Premier League champions absolutely dominated Arsene Wenger's side at Old Trafford but worryingly for their rivals, the Red Devils may still have more to come
ANALYSIS
By Jonathan Birchall

The sheer, unwavering authority with which Manchester United humiliated Arsenal during their 8-2 victory at Old Trafford on Sunday was such that you'd be forgiven for thinking that we'd never seen anything comparable between these two Premier League powerhouses.

However, only a decade ago did Sir Alex Ferguson's side obliterate the Gunners 6-1 at the Theatre of Dreams as the Scot's 'Treble generation' marched towards their seventh Premier League title. They would only win one more in the five years that followed.

It is that which makes Sunday's win so potentially significant. Indeed, the class of 2001 were laced with silverware and memories of the 1999 Champions League final but that was a group of players, triumphant as it was, coming to the end of their peak. United's current side aren't even close to reaching theirs.

The average age of the team that beat the likes of Henry, Pires and Wiltord 10 years ago was 27, four years older than Fergie's 2011 crop. With the aging Fabien Barthez, Roy Keane and Dwight Yorke as well as only one player under the age of 24 in Wes Brown, the final stage of the Treble team had all the quality of the side that we saw prove so dominant on Sunday but nothing like the same amount of unlocked potential.

Goal.com
has taken a look at eight reasons why despite already looking unstoppable, this is only the beginning for Sir Alex's current champions.


A happy Wayne Rooney

As Wayne Rooney scored his sixth hat-trick in Manchester United colours, he became the club's record Premier League goalscorer and took his tally for the club to 152, taking him above both Paul Scholes and Ruud van Nistelrooy. The former Everton man has started the season superbly, in stark contrast to the jaded performances that plagued the first half of his 2010-11 campaign. The Red Devils' talisman is back to his best and has never looked more content as a United player. What a difference a year makes.
GROUP A
The United Way

The youngsters at the club, both those who have come through the academy and elsewhere, quite simply seem to get the Ferguson philosophy. 'Not knowing when they're beaten' has certainly been a defining characteristic of the Scot's era but so is the ruthless 'never knowing when they've won' desire to score and score and score. It's what eventually set the Red Devils apart from Jose Mourinho's Chelsea and the willingness of Phil Jones to get forward against Arsenal, as well as Ashley Young's late probing, exemplified it perfectly.
GROUP A
Strength in depth
Five of the starting XI against Arsenal on Sunday weren't even at the club last season. Yes, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley were only temporary departees but for almost half of the side to have been relative new faces speaks volumes regarding the quality with which the Old Trafford outfit's squad has been bolstered over the summer. Ferdinand, Vidic and Hernandez were all absent from the pitch at kick-off - the result makes clear how little it mattered.

An improving David de Gea
Theo Walcott's goal should possibly have been stopped by United's so-called replacement for Edwin van der Sar but with a penalty save under his belt and a quite phenomenal stop to keep out Robin van Persie's late volley, the dissenting voices questioning the signing of the young Spaniard are providing less ammo as each game passes. The 20-year-old may continue to make mistakes, but there's no doubt that they'll be coupled with already evident improvement.

Goals from all over the park


As the goals flowed past the despairing Wojciech Szczesny, United went about their play with sparkling fluidity, as well as ruthless efficiency. With five separate goalscorers and five separate players getting assists, the hosts moved across the park as a unit, and scored a variety of goals as a result. Indeed, Rooney's strikes were all set-pieces but the lung-busting running of Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling coupled with the neat interchange of Cleverley and Anderson in the middle left Arsenal defending on multiple fronts. They couldn't cope, and Sir Alex's side revelled in exploiting them.
GROUP A
A blossoming Chris Smalling
Having gone from non-league Maidstone to one of the Premier League's finest young defenders in the space of three years, Chris Smalling sums up the excitement surrounding Ferguson's latest fledglings. Eyebrows were justifiably raised when the champions shelled out £12 million for a young centre-back with barely any first-team experience at Fulham in January 2010 but he has since proved himself an able replacement for Rio Ferdinand and more recently, a devastating attacking full-back. Understated he may be, but the 21-year-old is proving to be a phenomenal acquisition.
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Ashley Young already proving his worth
Questions over Young's ability to step up to the very highest level following his move from Aston Villa appeared justified at the time. However, his first few performances at his new club, especially an unstoppable two-goal showing against Arsenal now make them look frankly ridiculous. Attacking, hard-working and as classy as they come, the ex-Watford winger looks every inch the Manchester United player and moreover, the bargain of the summer.

Yet another goalscoring hero
Dimitar Berbatov will have been resigned to losing his starting spot to Javier Hernandez this season after the Mexican exploded on to the scene at Old Trafford in 2010-11. Yet he, like most others, wouldn't have been expecting to be usurped by the 20-year-old from Longsight. With two goals and a simply beautiful assist in his last two appearances, the youngster is already brimming with potential. We can only hope that the hamstring injury that saw him substituted at the Theatre of Dreams doesn't prove to be too serious.