Manchester United went top of the Premier League table with a 2-1 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford, after a lacklustre performance by the Gunners handed the Red Devils all three points.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side started the game well, closing down the visitors at every possible instance, and took the lead in under four minutes, following a mistake by Gunners captain Thomas Vermaelen. Robin van Persie, a much talked-about figure before the game, put the Red Devils ahead, sweeping the ball through Vermaelen's feet after the Belgian failed to clear a Rafael cross. Van Persie showed respect to his former club by refusing to celebrate his goal, despite rancid chants from the Arsenal contingent aimed at him.
United went into the break only a goal up - a scoreline which some would argue flattered the Gunners, given that the home side had numerous chances to double their lead, including a missed penalty by Wayne Rooney. A handball by Santi Cazorla inside the Gunners' penalty area was noted by referee Mike Dean, who immediately pointed to the spot. Rooney, who stepped up after a discussion with van Persie, put the ball wide of the post. This was a let-off for Arsenal, who could easily have been three goals down.
The Red Devils started the second half at the same tempo as they finished the first, with a Vermaelen mistake opening it up again for van Persie, whose beautifully weighted pass was scuffed by Antonio Valencia. Arsenal finally managed to get a foothold in the game, but were unlucky not to have United's Tom Cleverley sent off for a second yellow card offence, after the midfielder's brash challenge caught Jack Wilshere off the ball. However, Dean waved Arsenal protests away.
United took the game by the scruff of its neck soon after and doubled their lead in the 67th minute through Patrice Evra, who got under a cross from Rooney to guide the ball past Vito Mannone. Dean was called into action soon after when a stamp by Wilshere on Evra earned him a second yellow, reducing Arsene Wenger's side to ten men.
Arsenal pulled a goal back in the 93rd minute through Cazorla to halve United's lead, but it was too late for the Gunners to script a comeback. This defeat has given the north London their worst start in the Premier League under Arsene Wenger, with one point less than they had managed last season after 10 games. Arsenal now travel to Germany in midweek to face Schalke in the Champions League, to secure qualification into the knockouts - something which looks beyond the Gunners in their current form.