Déjà Vu As Manchester United Rip Us Apart. Again.

Arsenal (1) – (3) Manchester United
Vermaelen (79′)
The Emirates Stadium, London

What a shambles.

Manchester United will not have an easier game all season. It was a walk over, and extremely difficult to watch. Men against boys? You’re not far off.

The match was effectively over by half time, and Park completely killed off the game as a contest on 53 minutes.

There were a lot of positives going into the game. Wes Brown and Jonny Evans were starting in central defence for only the 4th time this season, with Vidic injured and Ferdinand suspended. In 3 previous games together this season, the partnership of Brown and Evans had failed to win, losing twice and drawing once. So surely an attacking team like Arsenal could expose the same frailties Burnley did?

The sad fact was our biggest attacking threats were Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas, and that in itself tells its own story. And massive defensive errors cost us dearly.

Credit to Manchester United however, they turned up to the Emirates and had exactly the same gameplan that worked so well when they visited us in the Champions League game last season. United were technically and tactically far superior today. They showed intelligence in their play and confirmed that The Premier League is a two-horse race.

It’s a shame we didn’t adapt our game considering they did exactly the same to us less than 9 months ago. If it was a one off performance from United you’d understand but it’s the fact they’ve done this before which is the most disappointing thing.

I might as well have watched last years Champions League tie.

Anyway, if we lose to Chelsea next weekend, we’ll be 8 points behind and they will have a game in hand. Which would effectively put us 11 points behind the league leaders.

The simple fact is however it wasn’t the defeats to Chelsea and Manchester United that did the most damage, it was the needless draws to teams like West Ham, Burnley, Everton and Aston Villa. We’ve simply dropped too many points lower in the league.

Back to today though, and the first opening 10 minutes looked promising as the game was end to end. Andrei Arshavin came close a couple of times and so did United. The problem with Arshavin was that he was clearly not interesting in passing or playing in a team mate, but kept putting his head down and trying to shoot. That didn’t bode well as the game went on because our passing game completely deteriorated. Players like Fabregas, Rosicky and Nasri just didn’t provide the support as the match progressed because they knew the little Russian wasn’t going to pass.

The goals we conceded were a disgrace, but we’ve seen it all before.

Last season it was the Ronaldo show but this time Nani’s pace and invention ripped us apart. Arsenal are predictable and Alex Ferguson knows this – he persists in starting Rooney with Nani and Park in support despite the fact they’ve hardly scored this season. Why? Because pace rips our team apart. We can’t cope with it.

It’s better to analyse the goals individually to find our shortcomings:

Goal 1

Nani had the ball on the right hand side with Clichy and Nasri seemingly giving him nowhere to go. A simple (but nice) piece of skill takes them both completely out of the game and he waltzed passed Fabregas, gets the byline and chips the ball into the middle, only for Almunia to palm the ball into his own net.

In Almunia’s defence, it looked like Rooney and Park were both unmarked at the far post so they probably would have finished off the move anyway. But the question I ask is why didn’t he palm the ball away from goal? He obviously tried to push it over the bar but unfortunately he failed miserably.

Poor defending all round but United will love the skill involved from Nani.

Goal 2

As Arsenal were pushing for the equalising goal (with Arshavin and Gallas trying to be too clever) United win the ball back and it breaks to Wayne Rooney. He plays in Nani who goes on a 60 yard slalom run completely unchallenged, and then picks out Rooney who coolly lashes the ball into the bottom corner.

The problem I have with this goal is United only had 3 players involved in the attack (Rooney, Nani and Park) while Arsenal had 6 players chasing back. Nani wasn’t even put under any pressure and the fact Rooney’s run wasn’t tracked was a complete disgrace, and shows a complete lack of defensive understanding. We had 6 players chasing back yet Rooney (in the middle of them all) finds space and scores. Both Denilson and Nasri were next to Rooney when he scored but failed to pick him up. All one of them had to do was track Rooney but they switched off. Totally shambolic and Rooney won’t have scored an easier goal.

Goal 3

Another goal from a break.

Clichy was exposed with two men (Park and Nani) running at him but instead of giving Park something to think about he stay between the two United runners and let Park stroll in and slot the ball passed Almunia for their third.

I understand that you have a responsibility to block off the square pass but Park (like Nani for their second goal) literally ran 60 yards unchallenged. At least if you make him think about the pass it puts him under pressure, but as it transpired he walked into the area and had an easy decision to make.

So 3 amateurish goals to concede.

With United’s injury problems and the fact we were at The Emirates, you would expect today’s game to be the one more likely to win with Chelsea coming up next week.

Player Performances

I’m not going to bother with individual player ratings today, but the only people in an Arsenal shirt would can be even remotely happy with their performance today were William Gallas, Thomas Vermaelen and Alex Song. Everyone else was a disgrace.

Andrei Arshavin had a chance to really hurt Manchester United but didn’t take it. His selfishness in the opening 20 minutes really set the tone for our attacking play and the passing and fluidity we usually have wasn’t there. We really had 2 or 3 real openings in the first 15 minutes and some vision for the final ball could have made this a different game.

Denilson was the worst I’ve seen him this season. He gave the ball away so many times and I did think for the moment he should be wearing a Manchester United shirt. His passing, positioning and all round play was well off the pace and the way he gave away the ball from United’s third goal summed up his performance. Should have been taken off well earlier (at half time) and replaced by Ramsey, or made Rosicky or Nasri drop deeper.

Update: Just watching MOTD2 and also forgot to mention that Denilson almost scored an own goal from a United corner, and he was the one who let Nani stroll passed him for the first goal.

Rosicky, Fabregas and Nasri were all on the periphery of the game.

United defended well so they never really got into the game. Fabregas had moments of skill but couldn’t make anything happen. Rosicky and Nasri we ineffective and in all truth, Song and Vermaelen were Arsenal’s biggest threats.

Song and Vermaelen played well but were sorely let down by those around them. Song had 2 or 3 half chances and did well to get into those positions – but when you’re relying on your defensive midfielder to score goals then you are getting desperate. Vermaelen once again had that desire and scored with a left footed volley, and came close with a header. Gallas also had a glorious chance to get a second goal with 4 minutes remaining which really would have made the final minutes interesting.

Arsenal’s best chance of getting anything from the game was just after Vermaelen scored on 79 minutes. For a good 5 minutes Arsenal went for it and put United under the most pressure they’d experienced throughout the whole game. We had 1 or 2 half chances but just as Arsenal were getting some kind of momentum Almunia’s inability to deal with a simple pass back effectively killed off any hope of a miraculous comeback as United had the perfect chance to kill time and the game.

And that summed us up really.


19 thoughts on “Déjà Vu As Manchester United Rip Us Apart. Again.

  1. How you rate your squad, is how you play against your competition, and if the top four are our competition we are still left wanting. We are still the same three players away from becoming top class. With the money and no competition in the transfer market, we will sit on our morals for another year and rely on a patchwork side week to week. Arshavin, a great player mind you who sits out of position week in and week out is not going to save us. Wenger, thinks Bentner the most unproven striker in club history is going to step in and command goals is just ignorance. But if you ask Bentner he will tell you laundry list of great Arsenal appearances from the past and can probably look in the future and tell you about the golden boots he will win. Walcott played 30 minutes tonight, so I guess he will be out for another 2 months. Gail Clichy had his ass handed to him for a second game in a row. And now to our great tender between the posts, the sultan of swat, 4 inch vertical leap of death, the noodle body super models dream of, the command skills of a great French military tactician, oh and might I add great hair!!

  2. Denilson has played this bad almost the whole season. We will never win anything with him as a first team regular. I can list about 20 negative qualities and very few positive ones. The thing I hate about him most is that he very very rarely tries his hardest. And he puts our own paleyers in danger – he passed to Diaby instead of switching play and got Diaby injured. Look at Eastmond when he gets a chance tries his ass off. Denilkson looks like a really nice kid who would make great playschool assistant – anything other than a top class footballer.
    Too many Mr nice guys. Remember Flamini – put him in any position and he would attck it with venom – hard fast and mean. Gave 100% almost all the time. Same vibe as Van Persie.

  3. Asked if the Gunners are set to bring in any players before the transfer window closes on Monday, Wenger replied: “At the moment, no.”

    Does that just say it all. What a f*cking plonker. So we don’t need a keeper, a left full, a central midfielder and a striker. You f*cking tosser Wenger. You wouldn’t even have bought Vermaelen if Toure hadn’t have f*cked off. We implored you to buy a CB for years and you dug your head in the sand and you are still doing it. If you think Denilson is good enough then the replay of the 2nd goal should be rammed down your f*cking throat. And as for Clichy, I use to buy into the ‘he’s so unlucky – everytime he makes a mistake we concede’. What shite, he is diabolical. And if I see Sagna shape to cross the ball again I swear I’m going to put my foot through the TV. No heart, no desire, let down once again. If we can’t put that Utd. side away then there is no hope. Just a couple of extra thoughts

    Problem 1: Picking and choosing games. We were on a run and yet again Wenger tries to pick and choose his games. The net result is we lose to Stoke, carry that into the next game and draw with Villa. We then face Utd. on a run of 1 lose 1 draw.

    Problem 2: Pampering and sheilding players that earn upwards of 30/40 thousand a week. If they can’t take the criticism how can they be expected to deliver under pressure.

  4. Not to get on the bandwagon but Denilson is terible. He has been poor all season but its been covered up withe the few goals he has scored. For some reason wenger thinks he is a more defensive player than Rosicky, nasri or ramsey but i fail to se how he is defensive when he gives the ball away so much. The third goal was down to him. he gave the ball away and man u broke on an over exposed defence. In response to philip, i do think he tries his hardest but his hardest is half the level of anyone else. he is rubbish. how can wenger expect to win anything with players like that. he wasn’t the only poor player today. from being in a great posistion to being out of the race in a couple of games may be early to say but its true. play like this and we wont beat chelsea. play like this and we wont win anything. there needs to be a clear out in the summer of some of the dros. at least 6 players should go starting with denilson and almunia. wengers experiments have got to stop.

  5. Well said… Bendtner and Eboue showed desire but both lacking match fitness while Walcott was completely ineffectual… coming back from injury/growing pains or simply not up to it? Arshavin was positionally outstanding but otherwise appalling. Fat lot of use being in the right place at the right time if you give the ball away or fire wide. Not to mention his decision making ruin many of our chances. Fabregas must have been too busy giving him a good telling off to get in the game. Denilson was also utterly anonymous, I can’t remember him near the ball at any time. Rocky and Nasri had moments of goodness (Nasri more so) but did little to impress. Sagna was on average apart from his “crossing”. He’d do better to accept that this is something he can’t do and either commit entirely and run round the back of the defense or drift inwards if he wants to go forward.

    I hate to say it but we’re missing Cashly. Clichy has been “off form” or injured for almost as long as he was as good. In this game he was involved in all the goals we conceded. Nani wiped the floor with him.

    We have to beat Chelsea if we’re going to have any hope of winning the title this season.. and we’ll have done Manure a HUGE favour if we do.

  6. how many more times are we going to put up with being totally outplayed by the likes of man united and chelsea. Why can wenger not open up his eyes and stop being deluded and see that this team as it stands will not win anything until we add real quaility and experience players in the areas that we need ie, goalkeeper and a striker or two. For the last two season’s chelsea and man united have kicked us off the park, its getting behond the joke now, how much more faith are fellow arsenal fans going to put their trust in this deluded manager? My trust is no longer with him, 5 years and still not a sniff of silverware. I personally cant see cesc staying for another season and who can blame him. WENGER OUTTTTTT!

  7. Don’t worry everyone Wenger has idenified the problem. He will buy 3 super class players in the summer, super super class.

    Oh, hang on, it’s only January – that’s the speech before season ticket renewals

  8. When ur defenders are the guys upfront, it means U re exposed at the back. Prob with Arsenal: 2 CB defenders(the only guys with character and killer instincts in your team) are in the striker roles. That leaves U a big hole for counters. Its means U need a killer striker upfront to take pressure off the attacking/defending duo. Vermaleen fits the bill for a great striker: good in the air and a good shooter too.U need that quality upfront, and cos its missing, U lose games like today’s. U dont see Terry and Calvalho attacking often, do you?

  9. Man Utd have mostly won all their games in the last 2 years against us with good counter-attacking football. Fergie has obviously worked out this is the way to beat us and is probably baffled that we have not caught on yet. Counter attacking football requires a quick break through one player carrying the ball upfield quickly but most importantly it is the 2-3 support players that sprint at full pace to get in the box. If the one player doesn’t get this support he is isolated which the defenders quickly realise and double up on him and stop the quick attack. This is what happened with Arsenal when, most often, Arshavin broke quickly and got isolated. If you watch the Utd counter attacks they always got others forward at pace and this causes the defenders to have more things to deal with so they cannot just go and isolate the one player. Once Utd realised we were not dangerous on the counter, and that Arshavin would have to go it alone they could commit more players forward. The way to reign in their counter attack is by making them worried about ours. Nani, who has raw talent, was quick and direct but has often flattered to deceive before in games, much like our Theo. Theo is not the finished player but can worry a team, with his pace, on the counter either as the player carrying the ball or in support of that player. Playing Arshavin, nasri and Rosicky as the top 3 is like playing a back 4 with 6 midfielders and no recognised striker, and this was not great for counter attacking football. This used to be our forte so why have we abandoned it, especially in big games where that quick break can win the game? Even if individually Nasri and Rosicky are ahead of Walcott in their all round game, it is not always the best 11 individuals that win the game. I feel Theo’s pace through the middle would not only have given us more potency on the break but would also have stopped Utd from bombing players forward at will.

  10. Sad, very sad but predictable. The team as currently constituted is far too light weight, small, lacking power and pace. The Wenger blueprint for any new player over the past number of years had been that of being two footed, comfortable on the ball, with good vision. All very well but when you end up with a team that has nothing else well you end up with an unbalanced side. There is little pace, power, heading ability and Rooney like clinical finishing. In short we have become an eefete, poofy team that when it is put up to us by imposing strong physical teams like Chelsea and Manure we literally fall apart. It’s not rocket science. Every fan that has been paying top dollar for the past five years can see it. We just don’t have the power and passion and I never thought that i would call my beloved team poofy. But I just can’t forgive a team and management that puts on a performance like that.

  11. mentuza, the reason why Gallas and Vermaelen were bombing forward was because our attacking players were inadequate. They hardly threatened the United defence and if Gallas did score his big chance then it really wouldn’t have been surprising. The two central defenders were our biggest chance of scoring today.

    Theo Walcott is beyond a joke. He is a sprinter with no skill or football intelligence. Nani has improved over the last 4 seasons and looks like he could become a player. He’s got skill, pace and is intelligent. Deserved his goal and put Rooney’s on a plate for him. Walcott on the other hand makes the same mistakes time and time again. Instead of going out wide and pulling out the fullback he ALWAYS looks to go inside! Use the width for fucks sake Theo! And his crossing is atrocious.

    And the crossing of the team in general is awful. How hard can it be to hit a space where you have time to pick out a pass? EVERY cross is OVER HIT. EVERY SINGLE TIME, it’s ridiculous! Why cross if the delivery is that bad?

    Manchester United can adapt, and Red Nose is tactically superior. Arsene Wenger plays the same way EVERY TIME. No variation, no intelligent substitutions… We’re as bad as Liverpool. And Pat Rice just sits there gormless while Wenger moans on the bench. The management team are full of yes men, and Wenger is as stubborn as they come.

    It’s no coincidence that Chelsea and United smashed 3 goals against us with ease. Even Manchester City scored 4! Manual Almunia is shockingly bad, and if Arsene Wenger doesn’t replace him in the summer I’m going to stop watching Arsenal.

  12. I have to agree with most of the comments so far. Denilson just has not developed into the kind of player we thought he would, like a Gilberto Silva type. On the third goal Man U scored where are the centre backs. We panicked too much at 2-0 a bit kamikaze really !. I think Chelsea and Man U enjoy playing us these days, they can come off the pitch with hardly a bruise. I felt really sorry for the fans in the stadium because it was over after the first goal, its always that way against Man U. Time for changes..

  13. Its very sad, but every manager has his day and Wengers is past.

    He has revolutionised our club but he must see that he can do no more..

    The waiter & denilson are just not good enough to wear the shirt. The more I think about it the more I feel we should be trying to get Hiddink in.

    Very f*****g frustrated…….

  14. Browny – Excellent point about the counter attacking game against us, Man u do try this tactic away from home against the other top 4 teams but seem to have amazing success against us. there are 2 reasons for this IMHO.

    1. Our midfielders can’t cope with counter attacking football. Apart from Song the oters don’t have defensive responsibilities in their DNA to hold when our full backs push on. The 2nd goal proved everything that is wrong with our system when we play teams that counter attack. Villa, Everton, Bolton and Man u set up the same way. To get 10 men in front of the ball, win it and supply th forward. In Man u’s case once Rooney got the ball their midfielders attacked ran beynd him full expecting to recieve a pass into space(incl Rooney, Park, Nani and Scholes).

    2. Our full backs push on to support the midfield but they aren’t as effective as chelsea’s or Man uniteds. Our full backs aren’t fantastic crossers of the ball, and we hardly ever score goal from crosses into the box, this means that in effect when we attack we have the full backs overlapping the wingers and fabregas support the fron 3. We attack with 6 in effect Arshavin, nasri, rosicky, fabregas, clichy or sagna and denilson, which leaves our back four immensly exposed the counter attack.

    To beat Man u I personally think you have to play a certain which stops them from distributing the ball to the strikers. Other teams in the EPL have adopted a similar system of getting the striker to hold it up and let the midfielders run beyond him to support and attack the space, think Bolton, Villa, Everton and Chelsea. Once the ball is held up the wide players can whip crosses in or pick off 1-2s in around the box.

    Man U have had little success against quick forwards and when teams hit them on the counter attack. Liverpool is a classic example Torres can handle both their centre backs so they (and Chelsea) both defend deep and hit the balls long over the top making their defenders face their keeper, or up to the loan striker.

    The other way is simply to play like barcelona and keep possesion of he ball in the final third, knocking the ball aroud and shifting their players out of position. Thats what Wenger wants to do but needs to find the right balance of players to achieve that, I prefer it when Cesc sits deep and dictates from deep, as he can deliver the killer pass and then support the play.

    But I guess we’ve been complaining about when arsenal got kicked out of games today was a footballing lesson, lets hope the players try and take a litte pride to stamford bridge and try to get a result.

  15. Dont worry we will receive 60 mil quid for Cesc in the summer then Wenger will stick them in the bank claim that Ramsey is the new Cesc and that Sol can play as a second striker.

  16. Selfish Arshavin- poor goalkeeping and a lack of bottle, patience and composure from some and desire from a few. If you spurn 6 good chances against Manure and fail to mark the runners- even their headless chickens will do you!! Arsenal’s players are better generally but Manure do exacly what Fergie tells them. Eboue has the potential to mark Nani or Rooney out of a game!! Arshavin could have played Fab or Nas in for a tap in twice or more. Cesc was great but there wasn’t enough PACE in midfield to play in that sloppy manner. Even headless chickens can raid an empty giftshop. Why isn’t Pat Rice up and at the defenders before they go awol and why isn’t Almunia screaming to keep cover and get the runners marked? Finally we never have in-to-out runners into corners and never mark all the other teams who do!!. Are Arsenal practicing on a lillypad? WE ARE BETTER THAN THEM INDIVIDUALLY BUT YOU CAN’T PLAY MANURE AND CHELSKI LIKE OTHER TEAMS!! Come-on guys fulfill your potential.

  17. Utd fan here, i come in peace. i can understand the frustration of not having the right players when theres a dying need for some gaping holes to be filled up.for the longest time, we have been moaning about the lack of a dynamic midfielder and able support for rooney.scholes and giggs aint gonna last forever. i personally feel our midfield lacks the dynamism, control and creativity when up against the likes of barcelona and maybe madrid and fergie still needs to pay top dollar for a marquee signing.

    despite having good promising players, arsenal today seem a far cry from the likes of bergkamp, henry, viera, pires. if this continues, it might be tough to hang on to the likes of fabregas who by far is ur best player. unearthing gems and buying raw talent is one thing, buying the ready impact players is totally another and thats where arsenal need reinforcements.


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