Arsenal 3 Manchester United 0
After kick-starting their Champions League group campaign off with a victory over Wolfsburg this week United travelled to London full of confidence add to that the Gunners poor start to the season and hopes were high that the Red Devils would return to Manchester with all three points.
The biggest dilemma for van Gaal was who should fill the left back position in the absence of Luke Shaw. In the last two matches right back Darmian has played admirably on the left, but Valencia on the right has been a problem as was seen last Wednesday when he played the Wolfsburg attackers onside for their opening goal. Jones and McNair are able to cover on both flanks along with the versatile Ashley Young.
With the announcement of the starting XI by the manager it was clear that Young was preferred to Valencia and would start as the left back and in midfield the returning Carrick would add the valuable experience alongside Schweinsteiger with Schneiderlin on the bench but likely to replace one of the midfield duo at some stage.
Martial was once again chosen to lead United's attack and would be looking to prove his talent against another so called big team after a more than impressive start to his United career, having been directly involved in four goals in his first three Premier League games, netting three and assisting with one.
Man United's starting XI: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Blind, Darmian, Carrick, Schweinsteiger, Mata, Rooney, Memphis and Martial.
Subs: Romero, Jones, McNair, Schneiderlin, Valencia, Fellaini and Wilson.
Any game plan that United had disappeared straight out of the window and the match became a real test of the team's character to see if they had it in them to come back from the disastrous start.
Over the next ten minutes, United did attempt to try and conjure up something, but the end result was a massive let down with the final ball failing to amount to anything near a chance.
Then it was that man Sanchez again, who added the third with a blistering strike into the top corner from the edge of the box. The game was quickly becoming an embarrassment for the Red Devils, who had to be very careful that they were not going to be on the end of a rout.
Sanchez's speed and ability was causing Darmian all sorts of problems on the wing and the Italian went into the referee's book for a cynical foul on the Chilean after he was beaten for pace and pulled the forward back.
At least United had an effort at the end of the half as Martial span on a penny and got a shot away which keeper Cech managed to block and that was the only chance of note that United created all half.
Collectively in the first half United were poor as they struggled to get any type of foothold in the match and at times looked like a team of strangers playing together for the first time and if it hadn't been for some wasteful shooting Arsenal could have gone in at half-time five goals to the good.
The second half couldn't get any worse, could it?
At the start of the second half van Gaal decided to make a double substitution by replacing Memphis and Darmian with Valencia and Fellaini.
Fellaini took up the position that Rooney had been playing in the first period and he himself started on the left wing and as the game went on he moved inside to a more central attacking position. Valencia was a straight swap in the right back position.
As the game entered the final twenty minutes at least United tried to get something from the game and through some neat passing the ball ended up at the feet of Mata who tried to curl the ball into the top corner but pulled the chance just wide. Even the mercurial Mata was having one of those days to forget.
The final change came in the final ten minutes as Mata made way for James Wilson, who would partner Martial in attack in the hope of salvaging some crumb of respect from the defeat.
Overall the match was lost in the opening quarter of an hour in which the lack of concentration by United will be a worry to the manager as it is not the first time this season that the team have struggled to get going during the first half and even though they enjoyed more of the possession in the second half this was only because Arsenal had all but done the job. If there was one player who stood out in the tepid display, then it would have to be Anthony Martial who on numerous occasions at least tried to make the breakthrough in attack.
There is the now the upcoming inconvenience of the international break so van Gaal has to wait a week before he can address the problems emanating from the Emirates performance before some tough challenges ahead, including Everton and Man City in the league plus back to back matches against CSKA Moscow.
On this occasion, it was the Professor who came out on top and gave the Philosopher a lot to ponder.
Thanks for reading.