All key factors that were missing this season, but fuelled this superb victory.
Mikel Arteta spoke after the game and said that he worked to instill the hunger to win - and that was in full force for the full 90.
Make no mistake, we deserved this and we made United look abject. Across the pitch, we hunted for the ball. When we had it? We made the right decisions and made ourselves available.
Arteta was able to select Sead Kolasinac at left back and also swapped out Reiss Nelson – who had played the last two games – for Nicolas Pepe. The rest of the team stayed the same bar Sokratis replacing the injured Calum Chambers.
The start of the game saw United actually come out of the blocks quicker, with Kolasinac harshly booked for halting an attack. Aside from the first five minutes however, it was all Arsenal.
We made that dominance pay early dividends too, as Kolasinac was fed smartly and his cutback found Pepe lurking. The Ivorian swung his boot and it sent De Gea the wrong way to give us the lead.
We didn’t let up either. Snapping at Utd’s heels every time they were in possession, we were winning balls high up the pitch, and that was down to a solid centre.
Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and David Luiz absolutely snuffed any whiff of a threat out, and it left our attack to forage forward. When Utd did get on the front foot, even Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette were tracking back and actually winning possession.
It got the stands livelier and we were in the ascendancy. Chances did come and go – in typical Arsenal fashion – as Aubameyang skied a volley and Lucas Torreira, after a smart turn, put his effort agonisingly wide of the post.
We also hit the post when Pepe nearly caught out De Gea, but four minutes before half time, a corner was swung in and Sokratis smashed home the loose ball from close range.
It was no less than we deserved, and United had no answer to our pressure.
Second half was a little different, but we still had the upper hand. A couple of changes from United meant we had to be a little more aware, but Leno had very little to do, with a couple of routine saves and a few punches from set-pieces. We still looked dangerous at times though, and we were a pass away from scoring our third on more than one or two occasions.
Pepe went off to a standing ovation, Kolasinac was subbed for Saka – the Bosnian was not match fit but put himself forward to play to help Arteta and the team – but we still had the game in the palm of our hand.
The control we exerted over proceedings was a real welcome sight, but what were the reasons behind our win?
Luiz Was A Beast
The Brazilian was stopping everything in his path and was often the outlet from defence to attack. For those critics who say he can’t play at centre-back? Just show them this game.
Xhaka and Torreira At The Heart
The Swiss midfielder chose the right pass every time and intercepted so much. Torreira was back at home in the defensive midfield role and he was the thorn in United’s side. They dictated our dominance.
Maitland-Niles Ably Assisting
The young defender/midfielder doesn’t get enough plaudits, but most of our opponent’s attacks were down our right, and he dealt with it admirably. He may see himself as a midfielder, but he’s doing a fine job on the right of defence.
Pressure Is Key
We didn’t let them back in the game. We hunted in packs, and even our strikers were mucking in. It meant that the crowd was behind them, the feelgood factor was evident and the team were showing they want to play for Arteta.
Pretty much the perfect game! Next up is our game against Leeds at The Emirates in the FA Cup.