That was painful.

On the face of it, a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford isn’t something to get you too bent out of shape – they win the vast majority of their home games and the scoreline suggests a tight match nicked by the odd goal. Sadly, the scoreline today bore no resemblance to the pattern of the match itself, in which the two United scored should have been a few more, and the one we mustered was with the last kick of the game, and barely celebrated.

The teamsheets made for worrying reading. Aside from the sideshow that always accompanies former players making their return, the thought of Santos trying to combat Valencia was not a prospect many were looking forward to, while Mannone’s continued presence in goal is an accident waiting to happen. Ironically, Mannone was good throughout, pulling off an excellent save from Rooney in the first half and van Persie in the second, and along with Mertesacker is the only player that can hold their head up and say they played well. Santos, on the other hand, was every bit the weak link United were hoping he would be.

Better full backs than the Brazilian will struggle with Valencia’s power, pace and trickery, but the winger found life embarrassingly easy at times today, and dominated the flank all day. Probably the only foot he put wrong was in the early moments of the second half, when he miskicked a tap in that would have put them two up long before they eventually put the game to bed. That stemmed from a bad mistake from Vermaelen, who will not look back fondly on this game, having started by presenting the returning van Persie with a golden chance that he was never likely to miss, in doing so casting aside our entire game plan. It would be fair to say that captaincy has not enhanced the Belgian as we hoped it would – instead he has been culpable on a number of occasions so far this season, and were it not for the armband his position in the starting eleven would surely be in question, an unthinkable suggestion a year ago.

Following the early goal, our response was disappointingly flat. United’s tactics were perfectly simple – they harried Arteta, denying him the space to pivot and supply his midfield colleagues, and as a result Cazorla dropped deeper to get involved, thus putting him in an area of the field from which it is more difficult to create. Then, when they won the ball back, the spread it wide to Valencia and charged into the box. None of that was unpredictable, or even a new approach in our recent meetings, but it worked worryingly easily.

Mannone’s saves and United’s wastefulness were keeping us in it, none more so than on the stroke of half time, when Rooney put a gift of a penalty well wide. But while we improved after the break, they still created the bulk of the chances, and when their second eventually came, no-one could be surprised, even though Evra winning a free header six yards out tells a story of its own about our defending. The closest we came was when Giroud smacked an effort against the outside of the post, before Cazorla gave an already flattering scoreline a bit of gloss with a superb effort in the final moments.

Before then, we were down to ten men, when Jack Wilshere ignored the last chance saloon he was in and went in late on Evra, a red card decision that I don’t think anyone can question. I would argue that Cleverley should have seen red earlier – his challenge didn’t warrant the final warning he was given – but so one-sided was the match that it surely would have made no difference. The gulf between the sides was far greater than the 2-1 scoreline suggests, and United looked like they had plenty of gears to go through had the situation required it. It never did.

All in all, it was a very bad day at the office, and isn’t the first since the international break ended. There is, however, a danger of criticism going too far, as it certainly did on Twitter during and after the match. Every staff member at the club was vilified as a moron, every player dismissed as hopeless, even those who actually performed adequately. Suggestions were made that no-one cared, that it was all the fault of people not even in the stadium, and much more. I understand the frustration, I really do, but I wish the post-mortem didn’t include so much mud-slinging. It really helps no-one, and creates a poisonous atmosphere from which it is difficult to recover.

But, at the same time, these are worrying times, and Wenger has some serious issues to sort out, and quickly. November is packed with hurdles, and we need to stop tripping over them if those at the front are going to stay in sight.

Like I said, a painful day.

  9 Responses to “Man United 2-1 Arsenal : A flattering defeat”

  1. A painful defeat indeed, very deflating after the adrenaline shot we got against Reading.

    It’s frustrating because I think it was possible to nick something from today with United’s profligacy, especially if we’d shown the urgency and drive we saw mid-week.

    If Vermaelen didn’t suffer a brain fart so early on, if Giroud’s effort off the post was a few inches to the right, if Cazorla’s goal came earlier in the game, if we’d taken a bolder and less conservative approach… We were outplayed but the team who plays best doesn’t always win, and games are won and lost on these fine margins.

    Let’s hope we get some of our mojo back for the next game.

    • If If If ….. Manure outclassed us and most of our players went all too quietly. Wenger’s Arsenal is not working and has not done for too long.

  2. The fm has ceased to be a threat to the red faced continued domination the last seven years except in 2007-08.It has been downhill since then and I feel the fm has nothing new to offer the gunners. This is unless he comes to his senses and get s the best tactical coach other than the backroom boys.These guys have become robots and dare not offer alternative options. There are many first rate coaches available but I see no sign the fm will delegate.
    You watched how RVP scored. There were only two defender s near him . Whne the gunners get to the box,they are confronted by an army of defenders and ye persist season after season try to dance their way thru. It has not worked and won’t work until the fm leaves and another guy comes in to show the gunners to play like other teams.No pass and apss and pass all over the pitch.
    This could the season when the gunners will not get the cl slot. After 15 straight years,the law of averages will finally see to it. Of course this is not 100%.
    It depends on what measures the fm makes. Its obvious Santos is a rampaging bull that can be easily neutralised and bypassed to score. There are other players,who frankly aint up to std.

    • May you be blessed all over Daniel Wong; your analyses are spot on targets! My worries are just too many- mr Wenger CANNOT recruit right anymore! How can someone tell us Santos (and even Gibbs) are d best LB Arsenal deserve? And Wenger knws very well he plays in a very ‘combative’ league. Arsenal playing style is to pass and pass in their third, and these pass-pass are so ineffective, slows d game down, and ALWAYS allow d opposition to regroup!
      It will be interesting to know what Mr Wenger coaches his team during practices; they dont have eyes for goals, no goal urgency, most have feeble shots etc. i wonder what ‘extra’ talents some of them possess! It is obvious we cant match d big teams; so how do we get trophies? No wonder he has set CL spot as his own trophy. But we all have stake in ths club, why should he alone define what is success?

    • Arsenal already has very good coaches, including Steve Bould. However as Manu Petit said on TV not long ago …. ” Would I come back to Arsenal ? No – because Arsene does not like to have a shadow cast over him ……” And Tony Adams … ” I would love to come back to Arsenal (as a coach) but Arsene would never let me make the changes which are so essential. ” What this means is that he will never even begin to allow his style, his formation, his choice of players, his attitudes …. to be tampered with. Pat Rice kept his job so long by saying precisley nothing – unless spoken too. It is Wenger and Wenger alone.

  3. Mannone, Sagna, Wilshere and Mertesacker played well yesterday.
    Arteta, Cazorla, Ramsey and Giroud played acceptable (below par but they are good players)
    Vermalen and Podolski were poor
    Santos was shockingly bad
    Walcott was acceptable when he came on. Arshavin didn’t have the time to make an impact.
    Wenger was poor. Arsenal of the last few years don’t have the forward thrust we used to, the other team almost every time manages to get organized defensively when we have the ball.
    Comparing the players on the field yesterday (although they line up differently), I’d take Wilshere, Cazorla and Arteta over their central midfielders but let’s face it, RvP and Rooney would be picked ahead of Giroud.
    From yesterday’s performances
    GK – nothing to separate
    RB: Sagna by a margin
    CB: Both ManU
    LB: Did we have one
    From the remaining 6, I’d only pick Wilshere from Arsenal

    The long term problem currently facing Arsenal is we are losing our best players year after year. We are NOT in the mix for the title this season, no matter who we buy or sell in January as come 2013, we’ll be 15-20 points off the pace. As matches are being televised world wide, the fan base is going to become relatively smaller. There is no longer the beautiful game which attracted fans from Asia, Africa, USA, etc. I watched two games last WE; CFC-ManU and Arsenal-QPR. The difference in quality was obvious to anyone.

    AW is immensely more successful than almost any other manager in world football but I cannot stop thinking that something has to be done to the way we play.

    Watching Arsenal play the last five games have been painful although we won two of them. When playing Fulham at home five years ago, I would expect 3 points. Next WE, I cannot expect a thing. CFC and the two Manchester clubs are going to fill the top 3. The best thing this yesterday was Spurs losing at home to Wigan.

    Always a Gunner although my life is being shortened by yesterday’s lackluster performance :-(

    • Wenger bought Santos. Not the Directors, not Steve Bould, not Stan Kroenke. He could have bought (say) Enrique or anyone who is actually a defender. Santos is what he is a beach footballer … who does not even sprint back when beate. Wenger still thinks you buy technical skill and he can play anywhwere !!

  4. This is d 8th season and this club CANNOT win any trophy, let us be realistic! Honestly, except we change something this is how we will continue to count and before our eyes we may reach 20, 21, 22 and so on.
    Let us lead a supporters’ revolt. Let us beg our U.K gooners to please agree to abandon the Emirates for just one match; let us take the painful option and allow Wenger and his clowns play to an empty stadium- just for one match. Our displeasure will be registered faster. Pls if these fellows keep seeing 60,000 every week, this status quo may remain with us as long as Wenger is alive!

  5. Why is’t dat Arsenal players didn’t give their best wen they face Man United but wen it come 2 clubs like Fc Barca, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool they come out 2 fight them. To me d problems come directly from d coach, bcos wen eva they met wid Man United d manager didn’t give confident to d players, no motivation nd if he saw lapses he usually not gives much concern 2 it, like wat happened wid Santos in yesterdays game he shows dat he is not ready 4 d game and d manager still leave him despite ol d erros he hv been making.

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