Mancunian candidates show their worth
Manchester United utterly eviscerated Arsenal in a one-sided encounter at Old Trafford, eventually running up an 8-2 scoreline that saw Wayne Rooney claim a hat-trick and Ashley Young run riot.
Young scored twice and Danny Welbeck, Nani and Park Ji-Sung all got themselves on the scoresheet as Arsene Wenger's side were utterly humiliated on Sunday afternoon, with Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie - who earlier missed a penalty - scoring the Gunners' two consolations.
It always looked like Arsenal would be up against it, after Wenger was forced to name youngster Francis Coquelin in an inexperienced lineup, while Sir Alex Ferguson was able to name the same lineup that comfortably beat Tottenham Hotspur last Monday.
It took just 22 minutes for United to begin their assault on the scoreboard, as Danny Welbeck opened the scoring for the hosts after taking advantage of some shocking communication between Johan Djourou and Wojciech Szczesny. Just four minutes later, the visitors had a chance to get back on level terms, however, after Theo Walcott went down under pressure from Jonny Evans - but Van Persie saw his penalty saved by David de Gea in a passage of play that changed the course of the game. Young almost immediately doubled United's lead with a beautiful curling shot from 25 yards before Wayne Rooney beat Szczesny's outstretched hand from a well-worked free-kick to make it three.
During all that action, United even had to absorb a set-back, as Welbeck was forced off after pulling up with a hamstring injury. Just before half-time, Walcott fired through De Gea's legs to give Arsene Wenger's men a glimmer of hope, but that was to prove short-lived as United came out still firing on all cylinders in the second half. In the 64th minute, Rooney got his second in almost identical circumstances to his first - this time wrong-footing Szczesny at his far post - before three minutes later Nani dinked an effort over the Poland goalkeeper while one-on-one to make it five.
Substitute Park Ji-sung then added a sixth before Van Persie finally got the better of De Gea to reduce the deficit to a mere four - although the action showed no signs of abating. Full-back Carl Jenkinson was then sent off for his second bookable offence after bringing down another substitute, Javier Hernandez, as the Mexican bore down on goal, before Rooney completed his hat-trick from 12 yards after Walcott had given away a silly penalty.
At this point Wenger had his head in his hands, but the humiliation was not quite over, with Young getting his second goal of the game in similar fashion as the 90 minutes came to a close.
Manchester City sent an early warning to their Premier League title rivals with a 5-1 demolition of Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday as Edin Dzeko grabbed a four-goal haul.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international had new signing Samir Nasri to thank for two of his four goals, tapping in the opener from the Frenchman's low cross and then heading home from a more lofted delivery minutes later. When Yaya Toure slide the ball across goal in the second half he took his chance to claim his hat-trick, before adding a wonderful effort from long range just as the game reached its conclusion.
Prior to that final strike, Sergio Aguero had beaten Brad Friedel with a close-range finish and defender Younes Kaboul had bundled over a consolation goal for Harry Redknapp's side, who were booed off at half-time and full-time.
Both managers made notable team selections, with Nasri thrown straight into the starting line-up up for City and Luka Modric restored to Spurs' starting XI. But it was the former man who enjoyed the better afternoon (Modric, in contrast, would later be substituted), as he immediately linked up with the likes of David Silva and Aguero to leave the home side chasing shadows in midfield.
Despite the one-sided nature of the final scoreline it took a while for City to get on top, with Peter Crouch and Gareth Bale both wasting good opportunities. But Dzeko got his first soon after the half hour mark, reacting first after good interplay from Nasri and David Silva to flick the cross past Friedel. A second came seven minutes later, the former Wolfsburg striker this time showing Crouch how to do it in the air, arching his body impressively to head a hanging cross back across goal and beyond the keeper once again.
The game finally escaped Spurs' grasp during a six-minute spell in the second half. First Dzeko grabbed his hat-trick after Toure got behind the defence to put across an inviting square ball, before Aguero flicked home a fourth after leaving Michael Dawson for dead and seeing Friedel duck out of the way of his shot at goal.
Kaboul sparked faint hopes of a revival as he headed home from a corner with just under 20 minutes remaining, but that proved to be the sum total of the fightback. Perhaps fittingly, then, it was Dzeko who had the final word - as his blasted effort from all of 25 yards made the scoreline all the more emphatic.
Elsewhere, Newcastle United continued their solid start to the season with a 2-1 win over Fulham.
Leon Best got both the goals for the home side, who also had Tim Krul to thank for a number of spectacular saves, before Clint Dempsey got a late goal for Martin Jol's side that proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
The first half was lacking in real action but the game soon sparked into life in the second, with Best taking advantage of some hesitancy in the box after a Yohan Cabaye shot and Mark Schwarzer mistake to slide home from close range. Just over 15 minutes later he doubled his tally for the day and his side's advantage, taking a good ball from Demba Ba and sliding it past Schwarzer with two defenders closing him down.
Jol quickly re-arranged things by bringing on Andrew Johnson, but it wasn't until the closing stages that he saw his side get back into the contest. And it was Dempsey with the goal, the United States international heading home from Danny Murphy's free-kick to ensure a nervy final few minutes at St James' Park.
At The Hawthorns, Stoke City snatched all three points in the closing stages against West Brom as substitute Ryan Shotton's gave them a 1-0 win.
There appeared little danger when Jonathan Walters pumped a harmless ball into the box with only a minute remaining of normal time, but Baggies goalkeeper Foster and defender Gabriel Tamas allowed Shotton to nip in and score.
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