Man Utd 2-1 Arsenal | We didn’t even give them a game

There was a time when Ferguson would only play one up front against us, even at Old Trafford, and pack his midfield full of defensive players like Fletcher and Park. It was quite the compliment. But he no longer needs to do that as this Arsenal side has deteriorated so much that we require no more special attention than a visit from QPR or Reading.

A central duo of Carrick and Cleverley comfortably outplayed our ‘dream’ midfield of Arteta, Wilshere and Cazorla. Rooney dropped deeper to help them out on the rare occasions we mounted an attack, but that wasn’t often as the hosts completely dominated proceedings. Rumours that de Gea nipped off for a cup of tea and a rubdown in the first half are unconfirmed.

As Arsenal fans have been accustomed to recently, we started slowly and captain Vermaelen made a glaring error as he mishit a routine clearance straight into the path of the one player we didn’t want to score today. There you go Robin, knock that in to settle your nerves. It was the fifth time in our last six matches that we’ve conceded the first goal and further proof that we are far too lackadaisical in our approach to matches. As was the case against Reading, QPR, Schalke and Norwich we looked poorly motivated from the off and the team were woeful for the first 45 minutes. Does Wenger actually give a pre-match team talk anymore?

RVP does the decent thing, unlike Adebayor

Suitably buoyed by their perfect start, Man Utd battered us and would’ve gone into the break further ahead but for some wasteful finishing, not least from Rooney who pulled a penalty horribly wide. My opinion is that the decision was harsh as Cazorla’s hand was in front of his face, not out to the side or above his head. Having said that, if Ferdinand had done the same thing at the other end would I now be arguing it was a definite penalty? Quite possibly. It was one of those where a valid case could be made for either argument, but what was never in doubt is that the call would go Man Utd’s way.

Lucky to still be in the game, I fully expected Walcott to emerge for the second half. We had no pace at all with Podolski on the left and Ramsey on the right, so any time we won possession Man Utd would have ten men behind the ball before we could hurt them. Ramsey is a decent central midfielder, but a wide man he ain’t. In the absence of Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain we needed a speed merchant out there and they don’t come much faster than Theo. After his scinitillating hattrick in midweek he should’ve started, but Wenger is trying to prove a point to him.

It is utterly ridiculous that his contract situation still remains unresolved literally weeks before he can sign for someone else for free. What’s even more ludicrous is that in trying to show who’s boss, Wenger is damaging the team. It was a spiteful decision to leave him out today — we don’t have many players in form and leaving him on the bench for 52 minutes was a disgrace.

We should’ve been 4-0 down by the time he came on, but his willing running and the threat his mere presence posed clearly unsettled United. The rest of the team looked visibly lifted and we started to play a bit. Giroud hit a half chance against the post as the home crowd grew anxious that they were going to pay for their profligacy in front of goal.

A few minutes later though we gave them the comfort of a second when shocking marking from a set piece (for a change) allowed Evra a free header which he planted past Mannone from ten yards. Just in case anyone at Arsenal should chance upon this, let me make something clear for you: OUR ZONAL MARKING SYSTEM DOESN’T WORK. We have now conceded poor goals from set pieces against Man Utd, Chelsea (twice) and Man City. All of them could’ve been avoided.

Any slim chance we had of a comeback went with Wilshere as he walked for a second bookable offence. In fact it was a third bookable offence, but Mike Dean had been lenient with him moments earlier as he was with Cleverley and Ashley Young, who blatantly dived early in the second half whilst on a booking. Cazorla was livid, but Dean ignored it, as did the Sky commentary team who only like to highlight simulation when it’s been perpetrated by Johnny Foreigner.

In injury time Gazidis rubbed his hands in glee as Cazorla increased next summer’s transfer fee with a stunning consolation, but all it did was add an unfair shade of respectability to a match in which we were soundly beaten.

Of course, Wenger didn’t see it like that:

“I think we were a bit unlucky, especially with the penalty decision. We had the better chances but overall in a game like this you ought to not put yourself on the back foot when you are one down.”

We had the better chances?! I lose more respect for this once great man every time he opens his mouth these days. He even said Wilshere’s red card was harsh despite replays clearly showing he caught Evra late and hard.

Much pre-match talk had been of last season’s 8-2 drubbing and I suppose at least we avoided a repeat of that. What worries me though is that even in that match we still created chances whereas today we barely looked like getting two corners, never mind two goals. The loss of van Persie isn’t just his ability to put the ball into the net, it’s his movement and skill at bringing others into the attack and creating chances himself. Last season he was eighth in the Premiership assists table. His are big boots to fill and we clearly don’t have anyone up to it.

Regular readers will know I promised to wait until ten league matches had been played to judge this team. Well, this was our tenth and the verdict is in — we’re a pale shadow of recent seasons, tactically predictable and badly motivated by a man living on past glories.

Consider this — the last time Wilshere played before his recent return from injury we had Fabregas, Nasri and van Persie on the books. Our policy of stockpiling large amounts of cash while selling our best players will bite us on the arse come May when we finish 5th or 6th. I just can’t see where the goals are going to come from to shoot us into the top four and I think more and more players (not to mention supporters) are losing faith in Wenger.

I can’t end this report without a word for the Arsenal fans at Old Trafford. They were outstanding, singing throughout and attempting to encourage the side even as it became clear to everybody that the game was beyond us. This current board doesn’t deserve such loyal fans to rip off and it saddens me greatly that we are now seen as an insignificant source of revenue instead of the lifeblood of the club. I agree wholeheartedly with what the fans sung during the first half at Reading last week: “We want our Arsenal back! We want our Arsenal back!”

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  1. Mickey

    “Gazidis rubbed his hands in glee as Cazorla increased next summer’s transfer fee”

    You are so right. It’s all about the money, money, money.

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  2. William

    Perhaps Wenger was so afraid of another big score defeat or maybe he has the Schalke game in mind. If the gunners can secure second or top spot,it would have been worth the lame show. But ,believe me, the fm will face hellish fans if the gunners get beaten yet again.
    Everybody,my 90 year old uncle,80 year old cousin with Parkinson’s disease,my 10 year old son,etc, asks why the gunners are passing and passing all the time without shooting.I told them this is because Wenger wants football to be played ths way compared to other teams who go direct instead of of passing crab wise.
    9 points off the top and with another 28 games to go.Wenger has lost the plot and is deluded if he thinks his young guns can save him.The fans care about the present.Yes I know the gunners will win trophies galore in two years time but if your present team is so shambolic,do you really think the future will be rosy?
    All managers have a shell life. Indeed Wenger has exceed his and will do well to dwell on the present and immediate futrue rather than 2012.
    If not the gunners will spiral out of control and be like Liverpool

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  3. GoonerDave

    Agree with a lot of it.
    Not sure how much to blame the manager is, but that will become clearer as the season progresses. Youre judging 10 games in, Im waiting until the halfway point. It still seems a little soon to judge the season.
    I agree that our last 3 or 4 performances have been alarming though, and we will be in a disastrous situation should our next 2 matches go the same way. We seem to have stopped closing down the opposition for some reason, and its costing us bigtime now.
    That and we desperately need a top notch striker. I like Giroud, and believe he can offer something to the team. But he should not be starting upfront in these matches.
    Finally, I agree about the Walcott thing. It really looks like Arsene is putting finances ahead of the immediate need. I can understand him being reluctant to pick a player who is probably leaving, but had we started with him today, he might have done something.
    Utterly toothless again today, Im disgusted with them. I can accept playing poorly, but half the team didnt even work hard enough and thats unforgiveable.

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  4. goonergerry

    We sold our best player to the opposition-didnt spend the money on a replacement. He scores after 3 minutes and they stroll to victory.

    A club can’t keep selling its best players each season to its rivals, buy cheap replacements and expect to stay competitive.
    The club’s owners have surrendered our champions league status.
    The current owners are only interested in one thing-profits.

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  5. Edmund

    What c?an fans do?This is shameful given that an Arsenal ticket is the most expensive in EPL

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  6. Northbanksey

    Spot on analysis to which I might add…
    Man U’s penalty & 2nd goal came as a result of crosses delivered after short corners that Arsenal players didn’t appear to notice (until too late)..shockingly casual defending…the “Steve Bould effect” didn’t last long.
    How many times does Santos have to get skinned by opposition wingers before Wenger realises that he’s not a good defender & currently is a liability.
    Equally, how many times must Ramsey be played on the right wing for Wenger to realise that this is definitely not his position.(I’d have thought that once, in training, would have been enough.)
    Having sold RVP did any one at the club notice that we started the season with just 2 central strikers, one new to the club & EPL, while the other (Chamakh) has struggled for any form for the last 18 months. Man U on the other hand, who had Rooney, Hernandez & Welbeck still decided to replace occasional sub Michael Owen with the the premier Leagues top scorrer.

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  7. Wombledin

    Podolski was the worst culprit, completely uninterested and useless. Giroud is lacking all confidence. Absolutely no cut and thrust or fluency in the final third and our only shot on target was Carzola’s goal. But not to worry, Wenger and Gazidis are happy as Larry provided we remain within touching distance of the all important 4th place ‘trophy’ as the season wears on. That’s clearly all Wenger cares about now, and doing it at the lowest possible cost.

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  8. Shanzuman

    AS usual a good report, analysis and even an applause for the sufferring loyal Arsenal fans. As I watched this game it seemed to me that we went to MU like a team who merely wanted not to lose by a wide margin but by the odd goal, that way the result would be better than the thrashing we received last year!! I believe that was the prime concern of our Manager. So it seems his plan was to play without any width (no Theo or Arshavin) hence no pace, playing players out of their normal positions (Ramsey and Podolsky) and to play possession football for as long as possible so as not to get thrashed. Goonerdave, we cannot blame our players for this but only one man, and that is Mr. Arsene Wenger. He than condemns his players for not playing well etc. We are no longer a top 4 side but merely one trying to stay in the top half of the league. I have been saying for quite a few years now that our hero Arsene Wenger should gracefully resign and let us start from anew with a different set up, outlook etc. What do we have to lose? We have not won anything for the past 7 years (this season included) and if we carry on like this we are not going to win anything for years to come. We will become just like the once great Liverpool now a mediocre side!! ARSENE GO NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!!

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  9. h4rj

    Did anyone actually expect us to beat ManU?

    I didn’t.

    We will be competitive again but I think a fourth place finish would be an ace result this year and I still think Wenger is the right manager to deliver it.

    This team is better than its current showings but not good enough to win against the really big and expensive sides. Not yet anyway.

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  10. Anonymous

    Buying players at cheap isn’t arsenal problem. Vampersie, Fabregas, etc were all bought at cheap, yet they are good. There are cheap players out there who are even better than ramsey, santos, giroud, podolski. Players who are ready to play for arsenal with their hearts. This present squad, with the execptions of wilshere, sagna, jenkinson, arteta and martesacker. The rest of the squad are not ready to risk for the club, they play without commitment. Wenger should step aside for guadiola to step in.

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  11. William

    I have to agree with Shanzuman regarding Wenger. The fm has reached a dead end with his tactics and transfer policy. The gunners have nothing to lose by getting another guy. Believe me ,this will be the season the gunners will finish outside 4th unless he buys some top quality players in Jan and not young guys like the CP kid.
    It’s quite inexplicable to know the defence has gone to pieces after the first five matches. Perhaps Robson is right that there is a rift between Bould and the fm. The former doesn’t want a hdl in contrast to fm.There could be other differences over tactics and team selection.

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  12. Shanzuman

    I read in the papers and the media this morning wide condemnation of Arsene Wenger and his current approach to the game by sports writers, passed managers, retired players and passed famous Arsenal legends. I also read that Pep Guardiola (in my books a legend of a manager just like our fading ‘older’ Arsene) is presently residing in New York and is planning his footballing future in the English Premier League in January/February to start work in the summer next year. SO PLEASE, PLEASE ARSENE STEP ASIDE and tell Gazidis to go and get this man for the sake of the club and the most patient, loyal and understanding fans in the world!!!! PLEASE!!!…………………………

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