Arsenal may have matched Manchester United for possession and scored a consolation goal with the last kick of the game through Santi Cazorla, but in every other area they were a distant second best, failing to resemble challengers for a top-four place let alone the title. Out of respect, manager Arsene Wenger is still exempt from heavy public barracking, so those supporters turned on their chief executive, chanting 'Ivan Gazidis, what do you do?' with an expletive thrown in for good measure. Certainly, replacing £24million Van Persie with a mid-ranking Frenchman in Olivier Giroud does not look shrewd business from a football point of view. While Van Persie bagged his eighth Premier League goal of the season with a clinical early strike, Arsenal's current new striker is stuck on one - and clumsily missed a couple of Arsenal's best opportunities.
"A strange game," Ferguson reflected. "Nothing like Manchester United and Arsenal games of the past." The atmosphere was flat. Arsenal were rarely in it and, before the end, their supporters had grown bored of abusing Van Persie and turned on their chief executive Ivan Gazidis. "We want our Arsenal back" was the general tone. How premature it now feels that earlier in the season Arsenal were being commended for a new sense of order in defence and the appointment of Steve Bould was being hailed for re-establishing them as a genuine threat.
Instead, all the old failings have gradually returned. André Santos's apparent ambition to be regarded as the least distinguished Brazilian footballer ever to play in the Premier League is nothing new, but let's not make him the scapegoat alone. Thomas Vermaelen, say, has rarely looked so vulnerable. Wenger talked about "an hour of mistakes" and his captain was heavily implicated.
While Mannone had to save from Rooney and Van Persie again before the interval the deadly duo did not make the most compelling case for United's return to a conventional 4-4-2. Rooney could not even convert a penalty right at the end of the first half, missing the target after Santi Cazorla blocked Ashley Young's cross with his hands. Cazorla's lovely goal with the last kick of the game will have cheered them up slightly, but only slightly. Had United been properly at the races this would have been another drubbing. "We were sloppy with our chances," Van Persie said. "I should have scored two goals but I'm happy with one."
ARSENAL: Mannone, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Arteta, Ramsey (Walcott 52), Wilshere, Cazorla, Podolski (Arshavin 81), Giroud. Subs not used: Martinez, Koscielny, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Chamakh.
Booked: Arteta, Arshavin, Wilshere, Young, Cleverley, Anderson, Rooney, Van Persie
Goals: Van Persie (M) 3, Evra (M) 67, Cazorla (A) 90
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
credits to: Daily Mail