Manchester United got blown to pieces by Arsenal this afternoon. Whether it was just a freakish forty-five minutes, or whether Louis van Gaal's philosophy has been soundly demolished, one thing is certain: hardly anybody came out of it looking good. But who came out of it looking the worst? Let's find out ...
David de Gea: 5
Looked a bit silly for the first goal, though he probably didn't anticipate Matteo Darmian allowing Alexis Sanchez to stroll across the box with quite such impunity. Nothing he could do about the second or third.
Ashley Young: 3
A better game at full back than the lad on the other side, which is praise so faint as to be almost unconscious, but United's right flank was a shaky mess for the first twenty minutes. Took quite a few corners. Can't remember any of them.
Daley Blind: oh dear
Took his momentary brainfade from Wednesday's Wolfsburg game and riffed on it for twenty-odd miserable minutes. Looked utterly baffled by Arsenal's early speed and movement, and struggled to get his passing going all afternoon.
Chris Smalling: 3
Probably not quite as bad as Blind, but defences operate as units and United fell apart as a group. Still performed acceptably in most of his one-on-one battles, but today we learned this partnership is certainly not good enough to function without proper protection, and perhaps just not good enough.
Matteo Darmian: oh dear, oh dear
Was brought back to the right hand side to ensure that Alexis Sanchez was up against a proper defender, a decision that could not have gone any worse. We don't know what's happened to Darmian — a Van Gaal-sceptic might suggest that the philosophy's starting to sink in — but wearing his shirt today was a skittish and indecisive naif who looked nothing like the streetwise charmer who began the season.
Michael Carrick: 1
All the criticisms of the defence above come with the caveat that at times, they appeared to be playing entirely without any protection whatsoever. By far the more defensively positioned of United's starting central midfielders, Carrick took the unusual decision to begin the game in the form of a non-toxic, invisible gas. It didn't work, and by the time he solidified the game was gone. His passing wasn't great either.
Bastian Schweinsteiger: 4
In the first half, either at his manager's bidding or on his own initiative, Schweinsteiger seemed to be trying to press exceptionally high up the pitch, at times ending up well beyond Rooney in pursuit of a red shirt. Not only does he not have the legs for that nonsense any more, he was leaving huge spaces behind him. Improved in the second half once United moved to a three-man midfield, and couldn't quite control a deflected through ball that would, if killed, have been a very presentable chance.
Memphis Depay: 3
An exceptionally frustrating day for a still-raw footballer, though we'd have liked to have seen him out on the wing once United rejigged their midfield and took control of possession. Partly because United, in the second half, looked agonisingly slow. And partly because his replacement out on the left was ...
Wayne Rooney: oh dear, oh dear, oh dear
Juan Mata: 4
Did okayish, relatively, though he was horribly isolated in the first half and simply waved Sanchez past for the third goal. Why on earth he was substituted while Rooney remained on the pitch is merely one of the exciting mysteries about this game.
Anthony Martial: 6
Made United's best chance just before half time with a lovely turn and snapshot, and was only denied by some excellent goalkeeping from Petr Cech. Looked dangerous for most of the game, and ensured that in Per Mertesacker, Arsenal had at least one player who couldn't enjoy their day. In some alternate universe, where the other nine outfielders don't play like a shower of chancers, he's going home with a couple of goals and a victory.
Antonio Valencia: 4 (on for Darmian, 45')
A vast improvement on Darmian, though it probably helped that Arsenal basically declared at 3-0. Still can't cross.
Marouane Fellaini: 4 (on for Memphis, 45')
He conspicuously wasn't Morgan Schneiderlin, he hardly spent any time clanking around in the penalty area, and he didn't even elbow anybody in the face. And what is the point of putting Fellaini into midfield if he's not (a) the best option, (b) going to be a siege weapon, and (c) going to elbow anybody in the face?
A note. Naturally, the Busby Babe does not endorse elbowing anybody in the face. Even Arsenal players. However, we know that elbowing people in the face is a key part of Fellaini's game and so, we assume, it's part of the reason that managers bring him on; if they wanted some football playing, they'd ask somebody else.
James Wilson: 5 (on for Mata, 81')
James! James! You know that first team football you've been after? Here's ten minutes at three goals down against a team who are defending with ten men. Enjoy!
The Busby Babe would like to cordially remind you that taking marks out of ten too seriously can prove deleterious to your health.