Manchester United (1) – (0) Arsenal
Old Trafford, Manchester
Overall a disappointing performance but in the end a 1-0 defeat isn’t catastrophic, considering what could have been.
For the first half an hour United were all over us and we had to rely on Almunia to make some really fantastic saves; from Tevez and Ronaldo in particular.
The fact was United were much better. We lacked any urgency which was surprising considering this is the Champions League Semi Final. Once again Adebayor was infuriating as he lacked any energy or desire, and added to his poor touch it’s clear the form of last season has completely disappeared. For a 5 man midfield to work the striker needs to hold the ball up well and while Adebayor did this fantastically last year, this season he has been a shadow of his former self.
Diaby and Walcott were on the whole ineffective, and as an attacking force we didn’t click at all. Lots of pretty passing triangles but no real penetration or goal threat. Fabregas was lost and you couldn’t help thinking he would be far more dangerous playing deeper where he can control the game, and play those brilliant through balls.
Nasri was okay, but along with Fabregas struggled to make any real impact because of the lack of intelligent running from Diaby, Walcott and Adebayor.
It was hugely disappointing considering Porto and even Spurs scored twice at Old Trafford recently and Liverpool managed four. But we didn’t have the man who bailed us out at Anfield – Andrey Arshavin.
We can afford to play badly if you have a genius like that in the side but not with jokers like Adebayor.
But despite the poor attacking display, there were some positives.
As I’ve already mentioned we only lost 1-0, which is quite frankly a miracle considering the chances and possession United had. Almunia was excellent and Ronaldo hit the bar in the second half – trust me we were lucky to only concede the one goal.
And despite the terrible defending for the corner from which United scored, overall our defence was good.
Kieran Gibbs was sensational, and along with Toure and Almunia was possibly our best player. Even Ronaldo was reluctant to take him on and tended to drift inside instead. His composure and overall performance was excellent and he was one of the few positives tonight.
Toure was another player who had a great game, and I lost the amount of times he cleared up at the back. He made some brilliant tackles and put in a fantastic shift tonight. Even Silvestre (who setup the United goal) did well at times, as did Sagna on the right.
So despite a poor performance tonight, we have a second chance at the Emirates in 6 days time, and we have to step it up at home and I have no doubt we will. We have to make sure that we make United regret not finishing us off at Old Trafford, because trust me they could (and probably should) have.
It will be a completely different game at The Emirates, but the danger is if United nick one then we need three. But we got past Roma (just) with a 1-1 aggregate score in the 1st round knock-out stage so anything is possible.
Bring on the second leg.