Manchester United vs Arsenal: Analysis by SV
Right, straight to the point. We lost against United and deserved to. Robin van Pershit scored against us and the scoreline could very realistically have been worse than it was. Not a good day for Arsenal Football Club; put it that way.
The most obvious thing to come out of that match was that Santos is not good enough for our club. A part of me died inside when Santos’ name came up and he was a liability for us throughout the ninety minutes. Many called for Vermaelen to be moved out to left-back but I don’t really think that was an option. Tuesday’s game against Reading showed what can happen if you play a defence that isn’t used to playing together; and a back line of Sagna-Mertesacker-Koscielny-Vermaelen would certainly have been that.
The other option was to play Sagna there, and have Jenkinson fill in at right-back, but it’s difficult for full-backs to play on the opposite wing, as their gut instinct would be to tackle with the wrong foot. However, I must say that no left-back performance could have been much worse than Santos’ efforts yesterday. Every time Valencia attacked him, he was beaten. It may seem harsh that I’m singling Santos out, as others like Vermaelen also had poor games, but Santos does stick out. Luckily though, Santos’ mistakes did not really cost us as United failed to do anything with the ball on the occasions when they did get past our left back.
In fact, the only time that United really should have added to their goal tally was Valencia’s chance from RVPersh!t’s cross. I’m not going to count Rooney’s penalty as I think that it’s a farce that the referee gave it; what was Cazorla supposed to do, get hit right in the face by the ball from three yards away? It wasn’t as if he made himself a bigger target, he simply prevented his face from getting mashed.
But anyway…my impression was that it was a game when we really could have got something. We didn’t create much in the first half but I thought we matched United in the second. Theo coming on made a huge difference, and most of our attacks looked like they carried some weight. After Theo’s 120 minutes on Tuesday, there is no way he could have started, but he definitely makes a difference when he’s on the pitch. He gave us a spark in that second half and we looked like we were building momentum. Of course, this was promptly killed by Mike Dean deciding to send Wilshere off.
I must admit, Wilshere did deserve the two yellows. My complaint comes with the fact that Cleverly, already having been warned twice, was let off a third time, not 10 minutes before Wilshere’s sending off. Is some consistency too much to ask for?
Even with ten men, we didn’t look too shabby. We penned United in and had a couple of decent opportunities late in the game, with Giroud’s chance from Walcott’s cross standing out. Cazorla’s goal, which was at that point only a consolation, was right out of the top drawer. If only it could have come 10 minutes earlier.
So how do we look moving forward? Everyone around me is unbelievably down at the moment but my outlook is a more optimistic. We currently sit 9 points of the top. Not where we want to be, but there are 28 games (84 points) left to play for this season. I was reading Arsenal’s 09/10 season review and was interested to discover that at this exact point in that season, United were 9 points off the pace. And guess who won the League in that year? Manchester f***ing United. Of course, some Arsenal fans say we don’t have enough quality in the side to mount such a challenge; once again, I disagree.
We are strained in some positions, I admit, but so are every team. Chelsea have only one striker, United extremely thin in midfield and in defence at the moment, and even City – who have enough money to buy three quality teams – have problems at centre-back if Kompany’s out. In fact, let’s do a man-for-man of yesterday’s line-ups, and see how far away from United we really are:
De Gea vs Mannone (level, both have been suspect this season)
Evra vs Santos (ok, Evra, by a landslide)
Ferdinand vs TV5 (two quality players but Rio may just edge it)
Evans vs Mertesacker (Mertesacker)
Rafael vs Sagna (Sagna, by a fair margin)
Young vs Podolski (quality-wise, not much to separate these two)
Carrick vs Arteta (Arteta)
Cleverley vs Wilshere (Wilshere, no contest)
Valencia vs Ramsey (Valencia)
Rooney vs Cazorla (Rooney)
RVPershit vs Giroud (RVP)
I realise that this is a very basic way of comparing to two sides but it does illustrate my point. By my count, United edge it 5-4. They are dynamite up front but have a midfield which is average at best, and a defence that really isn’t all that awe-inspiring. On top of this, consider that we have Szczesny (who is better than de Gea), Gibbs (who would give Evra a run for his money) and Chamberlain all to slot into that starting XI over the next week or so. We’re not playing well at the moment, but I am confident that we will soon pull out of this stupor. As Admin rightly pointed out yesterday, winning is a habit. Once our passes begin to hit their mark, and our players get that spark back, results will come.
To finish, I would like to give a shout out to the fans that were at Old Trafford yesterday. They out-sung United’s through the ninety and all I could hear during the last 10 minutes, when we were 1-0 down, was ‘We love you Arsenal, we do’.
Till the next time.
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