Manchester United

Edwin van der Sar: The Dutchman may have lapsed at Liverpool last week but you wonder whether, behind the scenes, there are lingering hopes that he may delay retirement. "One more year," the crowd pleaded during a flawless demonstration of goalkeeping 9

Wes Brown: Once described by Sir Alex Ferguson as the best natural defender in the country, this is now a player on the wane. He did, however, stick manfully to the task of subduing Andrey Arshavin and can reflect on a job reasonably well done 6

Chris Smalling: At a time when Rio Ferdinand can no longer trust his body and Jonny Evans has badly lost form, Smalling's emergence into a centre-half of distinction (ahead of schedule) has been timed immaculately 7

Nemanja Vidic: One interception ten minutes into the second half, running towards his goal and seemingly out of position, represented the game's outstanding defensive moment. An inspirational captain 7

Patrice Evra: There were times when he found Samir Nasri a difficult, elusive opponent, particularly in the first half, but the left-back was dogged and had made it an even contest by the close of play 6

Rafael da Silva: Usually a right-back, his move into a more advanced position was an experiment that worked in part. Rafael was full of running and helped create the second goal 6

John O'Shea: He, too, was deployed in an unusual position, patrolling the area between midfield and defence, playing the ball simply and subduing the opposition. Neat enough 6

Darron Gibson: His lack of mobility restricts his ability to have a more telling impact but he played well enough and showed some decent touches on the ball 6

Fábio da Silva: Like his twin, the Brazilian does have the attributes to play on the wing, running with pace and enthusiasm but, substituted at half time, there were only fleeting glimpses, even if he did score the opening goal 6

Wayne Rooney: Some good moments, some bad moments. He still looks short of the player we saw last season but he was better in the second half, full of running and endeavour, and soothed Old Trafford's nerves with the second goal 7

Javier Hernández: His darting runs and desire to get behind the Arsenal defence were a key factor and the Mexican was prominently involved in both goals. Don't underestimate the way he put so much power into the twisting header that led to Fábio scoring the rebound 7

Substitutions:

Antonio Valencia (replaced Fábio, ht): Eased his way back into his first match since September 6

Ryan Giggs (replaced Rafael, 64): Immediately into the pace of the game 6

Paul Scholes (replaced Evra, 81): Some nice touches but could conceivably have been sent off 6

Arsenal

Manuel Almunia: The Spaniard may have been eclipsed by Van der Sar but he still produced some decent saves of his own and it would be harsh to apportion blame for either goal 7

Bacary Sagna: The full-back was guilty at times of standing too far off his man and allowing United's players to pass around him 6

Laurent Koscielny: It is not a new argument, but Arsenal do miss a strong, domineering, Vidic-style centre-half. Arsène Wenger is entitled to be dismayed by the number of balls United's players won in the air 6

Johan Djourou: He, like Koscielny, is an accomplished player but was unable to impose himself on United's forwards before the injury that led to him being taken off on a stretcher 6

Kieran Gibbs: Reasonably stout defensively, but seldom moved forward when Arsenal needed their full-backs to be more adventurous and start overlapping on the flanks 6

Denilson: The problem for Arsenal in the centre of the pitch was a lack of creativity and Denilson was guilty too often of playing the simple pass rather than showing more ambition. The game largely passed him by 5

Jack Wilshere: In the absence of Cesc Fábregas, he took on the role of Arsenal's key distributor, albeit from a less advanced position. His passing was crisp and precise, although a player of this range might be better employed further forward 7

Abou Diaby: The midfielder was poor, on the edges of the game for too long. This is a man with the stride and attributes to be a box-to-box player; he is in danger of becoming a centre-circle player 5

Andrey Arshavin: There were times in the opening exchanges when he eluded Brown and, in theory, this could have been a vulnerable area for United. Instead, it fizzled out into a disappointing, maybe even lazy, performance 5

Samir Nasri: His contest with Evra was one of the more engaging sub-plots, with Nasri confident enough to take on his compatriot, but lacking the killer pass in dangerous positions 6

Robin van Persie: His movement and penetrative running made him a constant menace in the first half, but he was isolated in attack and United's defenders allowed him less space after the interval 7

Substitutions:

Marouane Chamakh (for Denilson, 60): Van der Sar's goalkeeping made it a frustrating half an hour for the striker 5

Tomas Rosicky (for Diaby, 72): Careless with his one chance, missing his shot entirely 6

Aaron Ramsey (for Arshavin, 72): Little time to have a telling impact 6