Mkhitaryan, Sanchez prosper at new homes
After a rare English Premier League swap deal, Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan made an immediate impact at their new homes yesterday.
Sanchez injected a fresh dose of dynamism to Manchester United and scored - immediately after a penalty was parried - on his debut to seal a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield.
"I don't think it is a dream goal for Alexis," United manager JosÈ Mourinho said. "Every player prefers to score a penalty. But it also shows his attention to detail, his reaction and his desire."
Mkhitaryan, who struggled to convince Mourinho of his qualities at United, marked his first Arsenal start by providing three assists - including one for fellow new recruit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - in a 5-1 rout of Everton.
"The two players integrated well into our game and they looked as if they had played for us forever," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
When so much focus was on Mkhitaryan and $80 million record signing Aubameyang, Aaron Ramsey chose the wrong day to score his first ever hat-trick.
"He didn't do it until now because I think he rushed, sometimes, with his finishing," Wenger said. "He looks much calmer."
For Arsenal and United, the January signings were made with an eye on next season in the Premier League. Any title aspirations faded long ago.
Even though Manchester City dropped points for only the fourth time this season in a 1-1 draw at Burnley, the leader's advantage was still only cut to 13 points by United with 12 games remaining.
The tussle to stay in the Premier League is far tighter.
Southampton escaped the relegation zone after winning at last-place West Bromwich Albion 3-2 to end a 12-match winless run in the league.
Swansea are out of the danger zone only on goal difference after drawing with Leicester 1-1.
But Stoke sunk back into the bottom three after Bournemouth followed up recent fine wins against Arsenal and Chelsea by beating the less illustrious opposition 2-1.
Brighton ended West Ham's six-match unbeaten run by winning 3-1 to move three points clear of the drop zone.