What I thought would be a nervy night turned out just to be that, but Arsenal put in a solid performance and for once, got what they deserved – a win at Old Trafford.
I thought that Arsenal were destined to lose. Before tonight’s FA Cup quarterfinal, our record was atrocious – in the last 15 games we managed to win once, draw three times and lose eleven!
The main factors why we lose to Manchester United are:
1. We just bottle it when we face United.
2. They get all the refereeing decisions.
3. Manchester United are the luckiest team in England.
However, they didn’t have any of those things on their side tonight.
Normally, when players like Di Maria and Januzaj dive like they did last night – and especially at Old Trafford – that would normally mean a freekick or penalty against us. Yesterday however, the referee Michael Oliver was surprisingly excellent. Not that he isn’t a good referee – it’s just that every referee that goes to Old Trafford is easily swayed and is inclined to give Manchester United every single decision. And I thought it was more of the same when Danny Welbeck was denied a clear penalty in the first half.
But credit to Michael Oliver, he was excellent. You’ve got massive cunts like Wayne Rooney constantly hounding the referee, which is why they always get the decisions. Their reactions to every refereeing decision is quite frankly a disgrace and it was just desserts when Di Maria was sent off for a petulant pull at the referee – Manchester United players think they make the decisions and that’s why Di Maria thought he could literally push the referee around. They are used to being able to bully the referee’s into giving them every decision.
Another disgrace was Manchester United tactics. Watching the game tonight, I have to constantly remind myself that we were playing Manchester United, not Wimbledon or Bolton Wanderers. How many times did they punt the ball upfield, and how many times did they hoof the ball up to Marouanne Fellaini? Jesus Christ, it was ridiculous!
This is a team that has aspirations to quality for the Champions League. The standard of play was shockingly poor, and worse than it was under David Moyes.
Manchester United’s “tactics” (if you can call them that) consist of getting the ball to the fullbacks, and then punting a high ball up to Fellaini on a diagonal. If that doesn’t work, their “Plan B” is to get the ball slightly higher up the pitch to their wingers, to then cut inside and then play a long ball forward.
Their tactics and play are an utter disgrace.
Fortunately, Arsenal were solid as a team and managed to play their way out of most of the problems Manchester United threw at us – except for the goal when surprise surprise, Di Maria cut inside and played a long ball to Wayne Rooney, who headed in from close range.
The Manchester United teams of old were direct, incisive and always a threat. At the moment they are simply a hyped up Bolton Wanderers – they really should have appointed Sam Allardyce instead, he would have been cheaper.
Yesterday was a great result and the draw (thank you Dermot O’Leary!) was the icing on a very tasty cake. The bottom line was though Arsenal weren’t, and didn’t need to be, at their best. The Manchester City performance was better and if we played like we did that night we would have won by 4 or 5 goals. What we were though was disciplined, focused and worked well as a team.
David De Gea is a phenomenal goalkeeper and for me is one of the world’s best at the moment. If it wasn’t for him (and they had someone like Szczesny in goal for example) we would have scored 5 goals. Some of the saves he made (from Sanchez and Cazorla in particular) were out of this world.
Everyone from the back to the front put in an excellent shift, but problems still remain over Szczesny. He made several mistakes tonight and looked nervous – and two of his very poor kicks almost allowed Manchester United a chance to score. He is a shadow of the player he used to be and Arsenal really need to think about signing a world class goalkeeper in the summer.