Manchester United Babies 1 Arsenal Men 0 (And Player Ratings)

Let’s be clear about this. We didn’t deserve to win this game. But, equally, we didn’t deserve to lose.

And what struck me most about the game was what a pathetic bunch of cheating babies the United players are.

More about that in a moment, but first a word for Howard Webb:

…………………….TIT

If he had even loosely followed the rules of the game we would have been playing against nine men for a large portion of last night’s match.

But this was Howard Webb and the venue was Old Trafford, so we had as much chance of not getting robbed as an armless man at a pickpockets’ convention.

I always thought that laying hands on the referee in anger was a red card offence. Not so at Old Trafford when the ref is Webb and the player is Darren Fletcher, who has just run 15 yards in fury to arm-check the official. It was clearly a straight red but, no, Webb just looked scared. Not so much of Fletcher as of what the purple-faced Gorbalian might say if he dared to send off one of his players at the Toilet.

Then, later, Rio Ferdinand executed a flying kung fu kick that left a foot-long gash in Bacary Sagna’s shirt, just below rib level.  If that reckless assault had happened the week after Karl Henry and Nigel de Jong’s leg-breaking challenges, Plug from the Beano would have been given his marching orders and rightly so.

But Webb bottled it again. Not a red card. Not a yellow card. Not even a foul. That’s clear then: in Howard Webb’s book, raking your studs down an opponent’s midriff is acceptable fair play. Or at least it is if you’re a Man Utd player at Old Trafford.

Then there was the ‘penalty’. Clichy fell to the ground and Nani kicked the ball against the elbow he was supporting himself with. He did not make any ‘hand to ball’ movement, he was lying with his full weight on the arm and it was tucked under his body, but the pen was given.

We all know that conceding a soft (by which I mean non-) penalty at United is a habitual hazard. In this case the fat lino flagged for the contact and Webb eagerly grabbed the opportunity to ingratiate himself with the Vesuvius-nosed Glaswegian by pointing to the spot.

The only consolation was what happened next. While we were fuming about not getting the rub of the green, Wayne Rooney was clearly thinking about getting the rub of the gran. She must have been sitting in Row Y, because that’s where his big wayward ball plopped down.

His round-the-corner run-up (presumably intended to unbalance our rookie ‘keeper) was pure Jonny Wilkinson, with the same end result.

Apart from the above, the key moments of the game were two excellent saves from Chesney in our goal; some tame long range shooting by both sides and a gilt-edged opportunity for Theo to nab an equalizer right at the death (squandered, sadly).

Oh, and there was the goal, too. Gael Clichy was at fault again (all United’s best attacks were down our left flank) but there was still a slice of luck about the goal. Nani’s cross/shot deflected off Clichy’s foot onto the head of Park, who contorted himself brilliantly to send the ball looping over Chesney and into the net. Like so many of the goals we have conceded recently, there was a huge dose of ill fortune about the whole thing, but also some of our regular failings on display.

And so to the muppet display from Manchester United.

A year ago the mouthy runt who plays left back for them (you know, the one who led the French national team to the biggest humiliation in their history at the last World Cup) said that playing against Arsenal was men against boys.

Well, last night it was Arsenal’s men against United’s babies. Throughout the whole game, whenever an Arsenal player lost a 50/50 he would try to play on. Whenever a United player did he would throw himself to the ground and writhe around in agony.

Needless to say, Webb bought the play-acting every time. The chief culprits were Rooney, Nani, Anderson and Evra.

I read a hilarious comment on a moronic United blog to the effect that, because Webb called 17 fouls against us, this demonstrated that we had carried out deliberate ‘rotational fouling’ on their players. (Rotational Fouling, it should be noted, was a tactic devised by Ferguson to combat Arsenal’s superior side in the late 1990s, a fact confirmed in Jaap Stam’s autobiography). The idiot who wrote the blog clearly can’t have seen any of the ‘fouls’ because most of them comprised Arsenal players winning the ball and United players diving like Tom Daley.

To my shame, there were occasions when I was calling out for our boys to hit the deck like the United players, but we carried on playing the game fairly.

Frankly, United should be ashamed of themselves.

They are a good (but certainly not great) side, whose principle strength is their defensive organisation. But if they want to live up to their self-styled role as flag bearers for English football they really need to man up and stop the cheating which now seems endemic throughout their squad.

A few final thoughts on the game: Cesc and RvP came on as subs and played exactly as they have been playing recently (ie not very well). Our defence performed pretty well, except for the now familiar ‘Clichy moments’ that happen in every game. But United often had too much space between our midfield and our back four.

In the attacking third we tried hard but nothing really came off. There were a few half chances but we hardly troubled van der Saar.

All in all nil-nil would have been the fairest result, but Howard Webb was never going to allow that to happen.

We can take positives from a strong performance but we really, really need to get that monkey off our back: no, not Gareth Bale; the other monkey: the ‘not winning games against our title rivals’ one. We had a chance last night and didn’t take it, but there’s another one coming up fast.

This was never a ‘must win’, but for all the psychological reasons that have been much talked about, home to Chelsea on December 27th is exactly that.

Player Ratings

Szcesny: This boy is going to be a star. Can’t be blamed for the goal. Made a few distribution errors but there were two outstanding saves and he looked commanding. He already looks like our best ‘keeper.  8 MotM (not many contenders).

Sagna: Solid performance from our full Bac. Defensively tidy as usual, some good crossing and one or two wayward efforts. 7

Squillaci: Made some excellent tackles and interventions. Maintained his good form. 7

Koscielny: Relatively quiet game but managed to keep on top of Rooney for most of the match. 6

Clichy: Too many mistakes from Gael are costing us points. Should never have let Nani cut into the box for the deflected cross that led to the winner. 5

Song: Great work rate, some great defensive work but, again, some poor passing. He has been given licence to go box-to-box but still performs best when deep in his own half. 6.5

Wilshere: Very good in the first half but tailed off in the second and was rightly replaced. Glimpses of what a super talent he’s going to be. 7

Rosicky: Very good first half, pulled the strings and worked tirelessly. If you look back at the game, watch his gut-busting runs to get back every time we lost possession. He also tailed off in the second half. 6.5

Nasri: Not at the races today. He was double-marked for most of the game and, apart from a few isolated good moments, couldn’t grab the game by the scruff of the neck. 6

Arshavin: Busy, always looked like a threat, always happy to try a shot, but nothing really came off for Andrey. 6

Chamakh: Up against two outstanding CBs, couldn’t get much of a look in but never stopped running, fighting and holding up the ball for us. 6.5

Subs

Fabregas: Probably shouldn’t have come on in a match of such intensity. He’s going to need games to play himself back to form. His passing is still off. 5

Van Persie: Peripheral figure and couldn’t get into the game. 5

Walcott: looked to threaten on occasion, but fluffed his lines repeatedly. Had a great chance at the end to level the game but shot over. 5

RockyLives

154 Responses to Manchester United Babies 1 Arsenal Men 0 (And Player Ratings)

  1. bops says:

    A positive post !! thats a surprise.. 🙂 .. If you see the blog world you would think we are liverpool 🙂

  2. Graham says:

    Agree totally about Webb. Bit harsh on Clichy though, Nani never got past him once all night. Can’t blame him for the cross that led to Park’s goal. Did his job by blocking but unfortunate that the ball looped up to the United player who, incidentally, was completely unchallenged. Szczesny must be given more opportunities.

  3. okayplayer82 says:

    extremely generous ratings to squillachi, clichy, song and rosicky. none merited anything over 5 imo.

  4. GunnerPete says:

    Good revue but sadly it could have been written every year for five years ie; same old Clichy mistakes…same old tip tapping with a decent shot in 90 minutes…in fact Manure were never in danger of losing, whilst witn their expert divers and control over officials they were alway going to get something. It is beyond me that no one at AFC calls for an investigation rel penalties for United and against us oop there ? We all remember the invincibles being robbed by Rooneys cheating, he tried it again last year anfd this year. This year the official had the clearest view ever and succumbed to the crowd. Finally, after that I cannot see any reason why we cannot win the title this year. We have all the top teams at homein the second half and hopefully we will have our top players fit by then.

  5. Rasp says:

    Great post Rocky and 100% correct about Webb. He was giving fouls for prefectly fair challenges for the first 20 minutes but allowing play to continue after manu fouls under the pretence that he was giving us the advantage where there was none. A foul against us on the edge of their box was one in particular where the resultant 50/50 ball was lost. He susbequently told the manu player off when play broke up, but we’d gained no advantage.

    A message to all you delusional foul mouthed manc fans ….. THIS IS AN ARSENAL BLOG…… Take your filth to a manc site, we will allow any United fan to make a comment as long as they treat this site with respect,

  6. Red Arse says:

    Excellent Post Rocky. 🙂

    I agree with 99% of your comments. However, unlike Graham, above, I am totally out of patience with Clichy who time after time costs us.

    The Utd players facing him had acres of space to measure a cross or play a one two pass before crossing. Nani did not need to get past Clichy, who always stands 10 metres off him, giving Nani all the passing/crossing options he wanted.

    Clichy seems to want to play in the CB position neglecting the left back position.

    All good teams build from the back and that was the reason we did not ever look like scoring. Chezzer was excellent in goal, but the back four, as a unit, were really weak, again.

    Individually, I thought Kosser played Rooney pretty well in the circumstances, and our mid-field was overrun so there was no real impetus up front.

    A nil nil result, as you say, would have been a fairer result, but what a tedious game it was, with very little skill evident from either team.

    This result was disappointing rather than disastrous, but we have now lost 10 out of 11 consecutive visits to Old Trafford.

  7. robin says:

    Chesney MUST play against Stoke!

    Song is utter shit, can´t stand it anymore when he tries to pass the ball forward, he just gives the f-g ball away, again and again….. Walcott has more football-brain than Song, he´s shit in comparison with Flamini.

  8. London says:

    Well done with the post Rocky, no easy task that one.

    I was disappointed with the midfield, for all the talent that Wilshere, Song, Rosicky possess they just couldn’t take control at all, they were all guilty of allowing simple passes to go astray which obviously led to more unnecessary manu pressure.

  9. Galway Gooner says:

    Song 6.5!!!!
    He won one tackle all night.
    He is beyond useless and adds nothing to the team.

    think your ratings are all 1 point to high. We were dreadful. Never once tested VanDS in the United goal yet our striker gets 6.5 and our two attacking wingers get 6???

  10. Rasp says:

    Welcome GalwayG,

    It wasn’t a good performance by the team. Szczesny was our only standout player, the ratings are subjective and compare the players – you could add or subtract 3 from all of them and the result would be the same.

  11. kelsey says:

    .Fergie not for the first time outwitted Wenger in the formation he chose, and limited our chances to score to an absolute minimal.Not a great game but any stretch of the imagination and the worrying aspect for us was even with the introduction of Fabregas,RVP and Walcott,they made little or no impact.Webb was always going to be heavily scrutinised and generally he tried to let the game flow, yet the penalty awarded was harsh,though even if Rooney had scored doubt we would have got back into the game.our players need to take a good look at themselves and show the mentality and mental strength if we are to achieve anything this season.We are a good side but just lack that leadership and motivation on the pitch in the games that really matter.If Wenger addresses that is another thing.
    I really think Mozart needs to go, Arshavin though he has a number of assists this season needs to get involved more, we can’t have too many luxury players.
    Clichy was always going to be targeted and so it was,and yet man for man we are just as good as united but just can’t stamp our authority in these games,now stretching back over 5 years.Wenger must take a proportion of the blame.
    cesc is woefully unfit and is his head really at arsenal.RVP is another who is a shadow of the player he was yet both were on the bench.same old, same old.

  12. James says:

    I am a Man Utd fan. Some interesting points but you cannot keep blaming the ref for this defeat. I was listening on the radio at the time, (but did watch the whole game on sky+ last night) and Alan Green (who is a definite ABU) and Pat Nevin both said penalty straight away, so you can see why the linesman gave it, they were undecided afterwards, just saying a yellow was harsh. The sad truth from an Arsenal point of view is you created ONE clear chance the whole game, from Chamakh. United could have scored 4 with the penalty, nani using his brain instead of smashing it way over the bar and ando forcing a good save from Sczeszncy (sorry for spelling if it’s wrong!). On balance of play I believe we did deserve to win. But I believe you will be up there closer than you have been in recent years, although your record of only getting 11/30 points from the current top 10 needs to improve, with your only wins coming against 10 men.

  13. Annour Izz says:

    I don’t know, but I think Arsenal can’t win the title race if the squillachi, Denilson, Bendtner and Chamakh are the key player of the team. We need top class striker!!!

  14. Morning all

    I’ve allowed James’ comment on as it’s a reasoned one, I’ve binned more than 20 very unreasonable ones, mank supporters who don’t recognise that as this is an Arsenal blog it’s not a forum for them.

  15. JSP says:

    Arshavin was totally crap, more like 1/10. How he gets in the team ahead of Walcott God only knows. I know Theo is frustrating most of the time but at least he works for the team. Arshavin is a liability we can do without if we want to be serious title contenders!!
    I think we can clearly see why Barcelona, Chelsea, Tottenham and Man Utd didn’t put up much of a fight to sign him.

  16. Erichero says:

    As for tactics, I’m not sure whether I was watching Blackburn or Man Utd last night, but I do agree with Wenger on the pitch. It was apparent very early on that nobody could get any traction, which is a huge hindrance to our play, especially with the heavily clogged midfield. I suspect that the lack of traction was also the reason for Chez’s hesitant kicking.

    Either way, Utd have our number and did their job excellently – we’re going to have to change our game plan for these types of games if we’re to conquer the world. Over to you Arsene…

  17. MickyDidIt89 says:

    James,
    I think that you are right in that we (Gooners) cannot blame anyone but ourselves when we create one chance.
    I am not trying to pull a told-you-so, but I said something before the game about how I thought SAF would out think AW tactically, and although true, we did make it easy for them. Nasri was totally marked out of the game, and as usual, Clichy was targetted. How many times does he win a ball only to hand it back.
    I take Rasp’s point about the player ratings being relative, but I do think you showed some generosity.

  18. Erichero says:

    I think it needs to be mentioned that game plan was much of our problem last night, and not so much personnel. MU won the tactical battle last night, because their players are barely better than ours, and it was at their place too.

    Here are some possible solutions to last night, in hindsight:
    1) Swap Nasri and Rosicky – get Nasri into more influential positions
    2) Better crossing – get the ball over the crowd of bodies and use Bendy and Cham’s height
    3) Pace down the flanks to whip balls in behind the defence
    4) Midfielders waiting outside the MU box to pick up the second ball after Vid/Ferd head it out

  19. Rasp says:

    The ref was not to blame for us losing the match – but he was poor and fell for a lot of stuff that a ref who officiated at the WCF should have detected. The pitch was uneven and the grass was too long (on purpose?) but it was the same for both sides. Tactically SAF won the battle (not for the first time) My disappointment is that I believe on balance we had the better players, but they had the strongest defence and the LUCK!

  20. MickyDidIt89 says:

    We are tactically very one dimensional. Invariably we come unstuck when teams adopt what I call a typical “away” strategy, and we simply do not learn. As I said earlier this morning, Rosicky was completely out of his depth in that pivotal role. Rocky (sorry, thanks for the post), I agree that in the first half Mozart did some useful work, however his role was to pull the strings and control the tempo. Neither of which he managed to do. It made it far to predictable and easy to control for Utd.

  21. charybdis1966 says:

    Have to laugh at all the self-righteous, “carefully worded” indignant rants of the Manks in the trash bin.

    Just about the only thing to raise a smile today, other than the memory of Shrek awful penno(that should obviously not have been given by that Arsenal hating, bald headed cnut of the highest order, Webb.)

    Clearly shrek was thinking of the next 80 year old Granny he could hit upon on.

  22. Tim says:

    We didn’t deserve to lose – probably. But we certainly didn’t deserve to win either.

    We were more solid than we often are, but that came with the downside of being less threatening too. Playing with the handbrake on, as Arsene would say.

    There was a collective lack of belief in the final half hour, and that was what disappointed me the most. The biggest difference between the two sides is not talent or formations or tactics – it is the fact that United know they can win close big games, whereas we only think it.

    We are oh-so-close to being the dominant team in the PL – but it is that final step which is the hardest.

    http://thearmchairsportsfan.com/2010/12/13/united-stroll-in-the-park-as-arsenal-surrender-top-spot/

  23. Big Raddy says:

    “as much chance of not getting robbed as an armless man at a pickpockets’ convention.”

    “the purple-faced Gorbalian”

    “United players diving like Tom Daley”

    “get that monkey off our back: no, not Gareth Bale; the other monkey: ”

    Superb piece RL – one of your best. It had me laughing on a bitingly cold post-loss December day.

  24. charybdis1966 says:

    I see old Whiskey breath is moaning about Fat Sam’s sacking; of course he will, that’s 6 less free points going as the new Blackburn Boss won’t instruct his team to lube themselves up so the Old Toilet twats can take them from behind.

  25. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Will Manchester United do the honourable thing and sell Rooney to help pay off their debt, or will they sell him to buy another player.

    Alex Ferguson doesn’t give a rats arse about the black hole of debt his ego has created. When he goes from that place all he will care about is the kudos directed @ him about how many trophys he won.

    Nor do their fans who waer those green & gold colours in an effort to signal in some new sugar daddy to continue the legacy of piss poor bean counting that has seen them the “envy” of everyone else.

    I’m glad I’m Arsenal. I pity those morons from shitsville whose only thing in life is their poxy bankrupt United. Who cares? I don’t 😆

    Its going to take more than a couple of meat tray raffles down @ their local to save their poor wretched club.

    When that old oatmeal savage calls it a day, we’ll see who will be laughing then 😆 And its coming coz nothing is forever you dumb fux.

  26. danstar says:

    this is a shit aricle, blaming webb hu i think was ok for our loss is bul!!! the loss was our own faulty, the liner is the one hu gave the penalty not webb hu just had to trust his assistant.. webb was ok, but our players cost us!! song was shit, we didnt create alot.. we shud ring the changes on saturday, walcott, v.p,eboue,fab,denilson all from thestart and rest sagna,nasri, arshavin and drop song!!!

  27. gunnern5 says:

    Come on folks I’m as biased towards Arsenal as anybody but let’s quit with the excuses – poor ref, poor pitch, rough play by Man U. etc.. etc.. etc…

    We were crap and deserved exactly what we got – ZIP.

    Our offense was exactly that – OFFENSIVE!

    The best chance of the game went to Walcott and he ballooned it over the bar. What else would he expect with his body shape – when you lean backwards your shot goes high – football coaching 101.

    It also speaks volumes that our best chance came in time added on!

    We are 3 points behind where we were at this stage last season and we are only in 2nd place because Chelsea and Liverpool are in decline.

    This season had the perfect ingredients for us to win the title but we simply are not good enough.

    Thank goodness for Granny lovers penalty – it still brings a smile to my face.

  28. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Chary,
    “lube themselves up so the Old Toilet twats can take them from behind”. Behave!!

  29. Rasp says:

    I’ve let you on danstar because you are a gooner. You are welcome to make your points but that will be the last time you describe an article on here as ‘shit’. I’d like to think you will accept our terms and continue to contribute to the debate in a positive manner.

  30. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Man Utd Fan, EpiKnightz. EpiKnightz said: Manchester United Babies 1 Arsenal Men 0 (And Player Ratings): Let’s be clear about this. We didn’t des… http://bit.ly/gVtlgS #Arsenal […]

  31. Big Raddy says:

    I would much rather be a lucky winner than a plucky loser, and that is what we must address.

    Witch doctors, lucky dances, an exorcism, prayers, rabbits feet, burning of strawmen, incense from the stands, crossing when entering the pitch, not shaving before the game – whatever it takes.

    We need to have the same contract with Lady Luck that MU have. And it is not just last night, I believe MU pick up at least a dozen points a season through good fortune (and poor refereeing)

  32. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Rasp

    I tend to agree a bit that Webb wasn’t the problem. The problem was Song in the 1st half anyway. He probably has creativity oozing out of his head but unfortunately it takes 3 times as long to get to the body part that wants to exploit the thought as a Nasri. He should not be up front. He is as subtle as a sledge hammer going forward. Can someone tell Arsene Wenger coz I’m going to send him a note otherwise 😉

  33. MickyDidIt89 says:

    It is a very tough call between:
    “Purple-faced Gorbalian” and “Vesuvius-nosed Glaswegian”. Very tough. Brilliant. Moving smiley face times two.

  34. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    BR

    In Australia our indiginous point the bone @ someone they want dead 😉 It works well apparently.

  35. Big Raddy says:

    GG. That sounds very Monty Python….. ” I wave my private parts at your Aunties” 🙂

  36. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    At one point in the 1st half the ball found itself at Songs feet @ the edge of the penalty box with no one cloing him down. But before he had time to think “what would Denis Bergkamp do now” Well probably be fore he could think “what” he’d been stripped of the ball 😉

  37. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    *closing

  38. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Gnarley,
    I understand our two great nations are once again to be joined at the hip. We are staring down the barrel at a Royal Wedding. Liz Hurley and Shane Warne.

  39. MickyDidIt89 says:

    “The ball found itself at Song’s feet”. 🙂

  40. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    How the hell does a toupe wearing fat dumb St Kilda supporting clown get these hot shielas 😛 ?

  41. Big Raddy says:

    I have to agree with those who felt Webb had a decent game. It was the linesman who was driving away from OT in a new BMW.

    The Fletcher incident was unquestionably a red card, had it been the African face of Song, he would have walked. (can I say that???). The Ferdinand jump was dubious but not worthy of a Red – it was not even given as a foul.

    Bottom line is what many have said – we cannot win a game with no shots on target.

  42. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Ok, off to bed. Stoke next & back on top 😆

    See ya all

  43. RockyLives says:

    Thanks for all the comments (and thanks Manc fans for the bizarre ramblings in the trash bin. They seem like an approximation of English but I can’t be certain).

    This is an unashamedly biased piece. I am biased towards Arsenal and always will be. But that does not take away from the fact that Webb was woeful and that the United players tumbled for the free kick in every challenge they lost.

    As for the idea that they had endless chances while we had none… well, they had the goal, a Nani shot just wide and the two saves by Chesney. That’s four. We had three good chances – Chamakh’s diving header, Nasri’s shot (almost turned in on the rebound by Chamakh) and Theo’s late effort over the bar. Four chances versus three. Hardly an imbalanced game. All the other chances for both sides were long range and unthreatening.

    There were flaws in our play and our game plan and there are plenty of articles on the internet deconstructing these issues. I wanted to focus on the elements that most annoyed me last night.

  44. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Woah Gnarley. Isn’t Shane Warne the Aus cricketing legend, or have I got the wrong bloke?

  45. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rocky,
    You wrote after the heat of battle, and did a fantastically restrained, and witty, job. We have the advantage of a bad nights’ kip.
    If it was my comments on the chances/lack of them, what I really meant was that to win we need to force more than one save.

  46. Anders says:

    how can u blame Clichy for the goal? if anything it was Wilshere fault, instead of helping Clichy he joggs around in the middle. i think Clichy did a really good job yesterday he never got any help and often they were 2 against 1. Nasri/Arshavin didnt even get 1 against 1, Manu allways have one who give underpressure. And it´s the same thing every game for Clichy and afterwars he gets the blame.

  47. RockyLives says:

    Anders, you’re right that Clichy didn’t get adequate support but I blame him because when he was one-on-one with Nani he allowed Nani to cut inside and get the cross away.

  48. Rasp says:

    Welcome Anders – it just goes to show how fellow supporters can see the same incident in different ways according to their own perception of players. The thing I like about Jack and Clichy is that they are battlers and Arsenal through and through. I don’t think Jack ever ‘jogs around in the middle’ he gives his all and often has to be subbed early as a result.

  49. Big Raddy says:

    I am with Anders on this. Clichy closed down his man and deflected the cross, – he did his job. And I thought he kept a very lively Nani quiet (apart from his dreadful howler when giving the ball back to Nani who blasted over.

    BTW Nani is one of the worst babies I have ever seen – trained by his mucker Ronaldo

  50. Smith14 says:

    I have to agree that I don’t think the pitch or Howard Webb were the reason we lost but that doesn’t make either of those factors any less irritating. How on earth Darren Fletcher got away with that is beyond me.

    I think someone wrote that United may not have deserved to win comfortably but equally, we didn’t really deserve much more than we got. United are skilled at playing against us. Everything we did was in front of them and therefore we couldn’t hurt them. It’s been this way for years. Quite how we change it, I’m not sure. Judging by most peoples frustration at this defeat, I don’t think many people have a constructive answer. This season is a constantly unfolding mystery.

    One thing I have thought however is that we seem to treat all these games like Cup Finals. As our record gets worse it’s almost like we put huge sginficance on going out and trying to win these games. I know playing to win is good but sometimes, it wouldn’t hurt to draw a couple. We either seem to win or, in big games, lose. If we had draws from the games we lost this season, even taking yesterdays defeat on the chin, we’d still be top.

  51. mart says:

    Wandered onto here from newsnow and thought i would give my two pennies.
    I agree that Ferguson has got the edge tactics wise over Arsenal recently with the xtra man played in midfield.
    Equally, Wenger would have expected this yet the result continues to go against him.
    The match was decided when United didn’t have the ball ie their ability to deny space and restrict Arsenal.
    Arsenal do carry a threat but often its not penetrative enough in this sort of game. Hence why Wenger said the passing was not sharp enough and his comment about the pitch. Ferguson is wily enough to know this of course and give himself whatever advantage he can. This is why Fabregas, Van Persie and Walcott are important to Arsenal. Without them Arsenal will continue to struggle to get results in these big games

  52. Rasp says:

    Welcome mart, apologies that you were held in moderation briefly – you will be able to come straight on in the future.

    I agree with your points. The poor pitch may have been a tactic to render our passing game less effective, but in reality, it never got going. On another day, a flash of brilliance from AA or Nasri could have won us the game.

  53. Anders says:

    Rasp

    I didnt mean that Jack jogg around becouse he didnt care or he was tired, I just think he didnt know what to do. I Really like Jack and i know he will become a ledgend for us. I Just think that Clichy allways gets blamed when its not he fault. And if the other players had his and Jack´s heart we would win the PL every year.

  54. Big Raddy says:

    Mart. Good comment

    Smith14. I have no idea how we solve the problem, neither it appears does Wenger.

    Do you?

  55. RockyLives says:

    Just think about this. If Theo’s finish at the death had gone in (like the one against Partizan) we would all be talking about a hard fought draw, how we matched Utd in a tight game etc.
    I know if wishes were fishes we’d all be Captain Birdseye, but one moment of composure from one player would have given the game a wholly different complexion.

  56. Anders says:

    RockyLives

    well he didnt really let him get away the cross, becouse he was on the ball and i think it was a shot not cross, but anyway i think it was pure luck(and the skills of Park) for Manu that they got the goal.

  57. dandan says:

    Gentlemen Why do we have to blame the ref. he had a fair game, the linesman as has been stated elsewhere gave the pen and it did make contact and was therefor pen, however harsh it might seem..
    Man u occupied en mass the area in which we like to play our one/twos, that together with the longer grass made life difficult for both sides neither of which played well. Those conditions cried out for crosses from the wings with Chamy’s heading ability a possible trump card. AA should therefor have been replaced earlier indeed knowing utd always play this way against us, I feel he should not have started.
    The goal was devilishly unlucky, a deflection, a spinning loop and a post combined to spoil a promising start by the young keeper on his first PL appearance.
    So a set back, and a lacklustre display but definitely not the refs fault nor the end of the world.

  58. MickyDidIt89 says:

    We desparately need to vary the tempo. We amble, elegantly, but amble nonetheless towards their box, by which time we are confronted by a wall. Occasionally, play deeper and then move with speed and purpose.
    Off to a meeting. Later people.

  59. gunner4life says:

    We are now more than ever before feelng the need for a strong CDM.The money that wenger is ‘entitled to’ is in vain.
    This would have given a lot of leeway to clichy (a player that performs better in the french camp) & sagna (who would have supplied more accurate n more no. of crosses).
    If we ever are to win CL then it is impossible to do it with SONG, WILSHIRE, CHESNY OR FABIANSKI. Dont get me wrong… but wilshire will need atleast 2 years to be able to compete fabregas. and this rule applies for the rest 3 as well. We could have easily got viera ahead of al-city if we wanted to (only as a song replacement which we still dont have). Also it is evidently clear that cesc is leaving after this season. Even if he were not to leave, I think, we still should have had a player of arteta’s quality to fill in for his absense until wilshire matures.

  60. Rewind123 says:

    Manchester United fan here, I thought the article was a bit childish in blaming everyone from Webb to “play acting” from United players when Arsenal clearly came out to show they were more than a “training academy” with 17 fouls in the game and perhaps to show they made the transition from “children” to men within since that champions league semi-final.

    I think that Arsenal came out with the wrong attitude, trying to counter the physicality of United, when that is not the way Arsenal plays. They should have taken alot of heart from Barcelona’s style of play and their display, which was used to demolish Real Madrid 5-0. The fact is, your team and manager decided against playing the teams natural way and created very little because of it.

  61. London says:

    Well done Anders

    You have successfully managed to address Arsenal’s biggest sacred cow……Wilshere: you are absolutely right, the man was lost most of the time, far too much is being asked of him; Nasri only plays, and is wasted, out on the wing because we have to find a way to get English Jack in the team. Wilshere does not cover Clichy and while I am on the subject, Nani is a very good player and manages to make most left backs look silly at least once during a game so all a little harsh on old Clich I reckon.

  62. Ben Shepherd says:

    Howard Webb has his faults but bias is not one of them.

    His style is to let things go, to warn players and try not to book players too early. As such there were a number of tackles that could have been bookings that weren’t. The game was a bit frantic, early on especially, as United pressed in midfield and stopped Arsenal playing. For example, Sagna committed a horrible tackle.

    Anyway, if United had had too players sent off it would have been 9 v 9. Did anyone else notice Arshavin and Rosicky do anything at all?

  63. charybdis1966 says:

    Sorry to hold you up in moderation gunner4life.

    As for the Mank who’s gone straight to trash – jog on.

  64. Ben Shepherd says:

    In 11 league games against Chelsea and United Arsenal have a single draw, and that was when United needed a point for the title. They have scored just 5 times.

    In anyone’s book that’s a dreadful record for a top team.

    May I gently suggest it isn’t a coincidence? That it can’t always be bad luck, or a pad pitch or an unlucky goal or a refereeing mistake?

    Arsenal are losing these games and losing them consistently.

    The worst thing from Arsenal’s perspective is that it was so predictable. United have found a method that works and stuck to it. Wenger must have known how United would set up. He must have known what they would do. So why didn’t he try something different?

    Did Wenger refuse to try to do something different because he’s stubborn? Or did he refuse because he genuinely doesn’t know what else to do? Either way he needs to sit down and have a long hard thing about his approach or United and Chelsea will continue to win beat Arsenal.

    Think on this: Fergie gets on well with Wenger nowadays. Do you think he’d be friendly if he was remotely worried about playing Arsenal?

  65. RockyLives says:

    Sorry Dandan, I thought Webb was the worst kind of homer last night. He bought every Utd tumble, did nothing when Fletcher barged him in the chest and ignored Ferdinand’s kung fu kick.
    Yes, the penalty was technically a pen because it hit his arm, but you don’t often see those ones given. The lino flagged, but Webb was also in a good position to see it himself so could have played on.

  66. Ben Shepherd says:

    @ London

    I think that’s a little unfair on Wilshere who is potentially brilliant and currently very good. The midfield wasn’t allowed much time on the ball and he didn’t cope as well as he might have hoped, but that’s happened to greater players in the past.

    S for Nasri, I don’t agree with the idea (common to English football punditry) that players are wasted wide. He’s been superb wide right so why change?

    And yeah, Clichy not given enough support, but that’s the main problem with playing a genuine 433/4231 instead of 451. Clichy was exposed and I think that’s a position that would be improved. The problem is… how do you bring in a left back without harming Gibbs’ development… and yet Gibbs is never fit. Maybe bringing in someone towards the end of their career would be the best option, someone with a couple of years left?

  67. mart says:

    London
    A lot of young players are overplayed but I don’t think this will apply to Wilshere. He reminds me of Gascoigne a little. He is a real player and has the desire to always want the ball which can give the impression when things are’nt going well in games that
    there is too much placed on him. If he’s man managed properly then he will be pre-eminent.

  68. Rasp says:

    Well said mart – totally agree. I have felt for a while that Song should have been instructed to watch Jack’s back whilst he is finding his way further back in the midfield. There were a couple of times yesterday when Jack’s vision and control was required but unfortunately Song was the player in possession in an advanced position.

  69. London says:

    Guys

    Having the desire to always want the ball and being out of your depth are two totally different things. The first is admirable but the second was the sad reality.

  70. Smith14 says:

    Raddy,

    All I can say is that we just don’t seem advanced enough tactically, nor are we mentally capable of competing properly in big games. I could probably write 1000 words about that.

    United set up with a solid back 4 and tight 5 in midfield, first and foremost designed not to lose. They then took one of the few half chances they had. They would have been happy for a draw. I think we’ve got a lot to learn in big games. We can’t say we went out to be bold and win the game but equally we can’t say we were solid enough not to be beaten. We looked like we couldn’t make our minds up how to play.

    I love our attacking style but against United and Chelsea we need to put more value in just avoiding defeat, especially when we’re top of the league in the first place. We need to learn the art of waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. Having sdaid that, I’m not sure we’re cpaable of a resolute and solid defensive performance like United showed yesterday.

    I hate myself for writing all this becasue I love attacking Football, I’m just fed up of losing these games.

  71. Big Raddy says:

    For once I agree with London. This was a game too far for JW and I said so during the match. Had Diaby been fit he would have played and we would have had more strength in MF.

  72. Big Raddy says:

    Smith.

    I admire your attempt at a solution!

    However, do you really think that if we allowed teams to come onto our defence that we wouldn’t concede? We have lost the ability to be solid and clearly AW believes “attack is the best form of defence” ( I first heard that in an interview with Dave Mackay in Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly!)

  73. London says:

    Very true BR

    Once, only once 😉

  74. mart says:

    London

    This boy is still in the early stages of his development. I can’t remember another player recently
    who has impressed so much so early. Its a bit reactionary to say he was out of his depth in the circumstances of last night when you consider how well
    United shut down space and the low level of his experience in these big games

  75. RockyLives says:

    I’m clearly a lone voice today, but I think there’s way too much negativity around. With a couple of twists of fate we could have come away as 1-0 winners last night, not them.

    There was little to choose between the teams. We weren’t firing on all cylinders – neither were they. They defended a bit better than us but there were roughly the same amount of goal chances for either side, so our much maligned defence didn’t actually do that badly.

    Yes, Jack and Tomas faded in MF, but also had good periods which are being overlooked. Yes, Song had another one of those games where he’s all over the park with variable effect.

    But compared to how I felt after they destroyed us at The Grove last year, this disappointment is nothing.

  76. Big Raddy says:

    Mart. In that case you agree – it was asking too much of JW (“when you consider….”). No-one is saying that he will not be a brilliant player, just that he needs to get more experience before playing in an important highly charged game at OT.

  77. London says:

    I agree Mart

    Wilshere is in the early stages of development and that is exactly the reason I am suggesting that he was out of his depth last night.

  78. Big Raddy says:

    RL. I am in your camp, we are going to be there or thereabouts

  79. 26may1989 says:

    Sorry, I haven’t read through all the responses to Rocky’s typically excellent write-up, “Plug from the Beano” and “getting the rub of the gran” being particular favourite turns of phrase. But I just wanted to chip in before I miss the chance.

    Yes, we should have got something if the measure is being the team trying to be enterprising (United were almost as good as Newcastle in executing that strategy, but then the Geordies are newly promoted and were playing away). And yes, Howard Webb was crap (he must have been the easiest policeman for the ASBO kids to fool).

    But Red Arse called it right the other day, when he said it would come down to tactics – the fact is, from a United perspective, the game went absolutely according to plan: over-populate midfield with Duracell bunny players to deny our lot the chance to get into their rhythym; attack the full backs whenever possible; hit us on the break at every opportunity; and above all defend like buggery. However unambitious their style of play, and however backhandedly flattering it is for the world’s biggest club (ha ha) to adopt such tactics against us, the fact is that is they executed their gameplan perfectly and got the three points.

    And we knew they would try these tactics: Wenger, when he saw the teamsheets, even made the point before the game that that is how they play against us. But, brilliant as our lot can be, once again, they simply lacked the guile to deal with a very good team playing well organised, tactical football. I can just about accept that, it happens, but it really annoys me to see our players not matching the energetic determination of their opponents. That really isn’t good enough.

    Oh well, we’ll just need to beat Stoke and Chelsea to make up for it…..

  80. Smith14 says:

    Raddy,

    I agree that we don’t have the defensive solidity to invite teams onto us however, yesterday United weren’t set up to come onto us, they played with a formation that would have been happy with a draw. Whilst we didn’t go out to blow them away we weren’t prepared to let the game drift and unfold either. It’s not great to watch but then again, neither is always being beaten in these games.

    Big matches are usually like a chess match. We could have done with just being as cautious as them and see if they fancy taking some risks or not. As it stood or full backs were too exposed and we gave away more opportunites than them. If we’d been committed to not losing they might have had to come and have a game with us, to take a few risks, which is then the time to start atrtacking a bit more dynamically. 0-0 would have been fine for us but we were too nervous to keep possesion effectively or, as I said, to just let the match develop.

    I may be clutching at straws, I know. I just think we need a change of attitude. I’m also fed up of the same old reasons being trotted out for our defeats. Not strong enough, need a keeper, not good enough at the back etc. None of these reasons caused yesterdays defeat. We just didn’t look mature or calm enough to deserve any more than we got.

  81. Red Arse says:

    I always enjoy the chat on here ….. usually. Today I am somewhat gobsmacked that if there have been 50 bloggers on here, there have been 50 different reasons for us losing.

    Each reason given has been written with honest belief in the opinion expressed.

    I used to think (naively) that if Arsene read the blogs we would soon put him right. Clearly I am a bigger plonker than even I thought, so Arsene should stay away or he will be even more confused! 🙂

    Finally, can I say that I would like to agree with each of you, but then we would both be wrong! 🙂

  82. 26may1989 says:

    Have just looked up at your 2.31pm Rocky, and broadly I agree, there’s a long way to go yet. All four of the challengers are making life hard for themselves, and so far there’s no reason to suppose that’s going to change. I reckon the first one to find illusive consistency (and it could just as well be us as anyone else) will win the title.

  83. Red Arse says:

    I wrote my previous before seeing 26’s comment. he is clearly right!! 🙂

  84. Smith14 says:

    Red,

    I’ve given my views on the reason for yesterdays defeat and have to admit, I’m speculating. That’s what makes this season so confusing. The reasons for our failures aren’t as obvious as some people make out and from a fans point of view, it’s incredibly frustrating.

    We’ve previously argued that our defence isn’t good enough but yesterday they didn’t do an awful lot wrong. People say we need a keeper but Szcesny did nothing wrong yesterday apart from a few poor kicks. People also say we’re not strong enough but we were just as physical as them yesterday. This is what makes me think it’s partly a tactical problem and partly a mental one.

    Of course, I’m just speculating. I’m as confused as everyone else!

  85. RockyLives says:

    26may – I’m sure you;re right that whoever hits a groove will win the title. After last night (and with their unbeaten record) you would have to say ManUre are the most likely to do so…

  86. 26may1989 says:

    Now there’s a first Red Arse! 😉

  87. RockyLives says:

    Redders, I disagree with everything you so accurately say.

  88. Red Arse says:

    I suspect there are many of you on here who have played the game and have the knowledge that comes with that experience, as opposed to those of us who have never actually played.

    My question alludes not only to last night’s game, but previous games when the following has happened.

    Why do competent players, especially professionals, suddenly find it impossible to pass the ball 5 metres or 10 metres to their team-mate without giving it straight to the opposition?

    This happened continuously last night, to quality players of both sides. Really weird!

  89. 26may1989 says:

    Yeah Rocky, but that’s what we’ve all been like, one or two games of the good stuff, and then each one of us balls it up, the Chavs’ stunning run of bad form being the most obvious example.

    Personally, I don’t think it will be United, they just don’t have enough real talent in the side for me. But what they have they get the best from. I would still say Chelsea will win, they will remember how to play (unfortunately). My big fear is that those pretentious scumbags from Eastlands will win by default.

  90. RockyLives says:

    Redders, the misplaced passing was probably partially due to the pitch, as Wenger said. However, as someone who played footy for the best part of 40 years (until the knees packed up), you can misplace easy balls through tiredness, lack of concentration, over-anxiousness, laziness or just plain ‘one of those days’.
    Which, I realise, is no answer at all.

  91. Red Arse says:

    Smithy, you have summed up exactly what I had observed. 🙂

    Rocky, I think you have outfoxed me, again. 🙂

    But it has been said (by me 🙂 ) that knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to put it in the fruit salad! 🙂

    Consider this … stealing ideas from one man is plagiarism, stealing ideas from many is research! In arsene’s case stealing ideas from us lot would be madness! 🙂

  92. RockyLives says:

    Great stuff Redders 🙂 🙂

  93. goonermichael says:

    I thought we were rubbish. The linesman gave the penalty though not webb.

  94. Red Arse says:

    26,

    I was being a bit disingenuous in saying you were right earlier.

    It was contingent on you having said in the comment that I had got it “right” a few days ago.

    A perfect example of a virtuous circle! 🙂

  95. charybdis1966 says:

    Should have said earlier, entertaining write up there R Lives – I would have been too despondent to write anything, but tbh I had built myself up to expect defeat (hence my Mugabe style media lockdown yesterday evening) and was merely disappointed not surprised.
    In the words of that sage Charlie Harper “You’ve gotta look on the upside, there’s always an upside” – and that has to be the fluffed penno.
    Suppose it makes sense the Chilean miners were in the crowd, not only do they fulfil the criteria for being a ManIOU supporter(live more than 2,000 miles away from Manchester) but having spent a lot of time in a dark, soulless place they were right at home at Old Toilet.

  96. Red Arse says:

    I don’t want to bore you with the handball “regs”, but a rule of thumb is that the handball must be deliberate (bit of mind reading required there), and it should be seen as hand to ball and NOT ball to hand.

    As Clichy was supporting himself on the offending hand it could hardly be construed as hand to ball. No penalty!!

  97. RockyLives says:

    gonnermichael: linesmen can’t give penalties. He flagged, but Webb had to make the call (and had been well placed to see the incident himself).

    Chary: thanks. Unlike you,. I had a strong feeling we were ready to win up there. Now my optimism will transfer to Stoke and Chavski!

  98. kelsey says:

    I am drawn to Smith 14’s comment at 2.44.

    I think it is a combination of things.Arshavin is completely out of form, same thing can be said for Rosicky.Fabregas and RVP and Walcott are nowhere near fit.Chamakh is easy to play against when the ball is on the ground.Clichy is frustratingly never consistent and i would go as far to say is often a liability.The understanding between Wilshere and Song is work in progress, yet on the day the newish centre back pairing did OK and for the first time in many moons i never questioned the ability of our keeper,which in itself is a rarity.

    if you add all these things up, plus no one on the day to really stamp their authority on the field be it by leadership or by play, it wasn’t to be.

  99. aPPLEyARD says:

    JSP and Ben Sheppard I agree with you both, Arshavin is a waste of space and every time we take to the field with him we are playing with 10 men!! Walcott over Arshavin any day of the week!!

  100. kelsey says:

    In the media eyes we are never going to be good enough,and our frailities are well publicised,yet if we beat Stoke technically we are back in the mix,but then can we produce a run of results.
    I never thought i would say it,but our inability to score is becoming a real concern.If you look at recent matches our possession and shots on target in the final third is diminishing.

  101. MickyDidIt89 says:

    One of the great qualities of this site is even in the face of adversity and disagreement, there is a high level of politeness. However, as a result, I do detect a lot of tippy toeing around today, with everyone hating to point a finger of blame. As I hollered yesterday afternoon, the game would be decided tactically by the managers, and I was right.
    Quite clearly Wenger should have had the subs out twenty minutes before kick off with little mowers.

  102. Rasp says:

    😆 Micky,

    Yes I agree that Fergie won the tactical battle as he usually does.

    I wonder if AW is just too introspective sometimes.

    It may be good to give the players the motivation of thinking that as long as we concentrate on playing our game we will win – but when we repeatedly fail against the big teams, it can only have the opposite effect.

  103. Rasp says:

    Hi kelsey,

    Great comment at 3:29. I agree with you that once again we didn’t have that leader on the pitch to drive the players. It will be very interesting to see what tpe of character AW chooses to take over from PR next season.

  104. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Rasp,
    The gap is closing, I have no doubt of that.
    A fit Cesc and I believe we would have won. He is world class, and brings out the best in our front three.

  105. charybdis1966 says:

    Raspers – are we sure PR is offski @ the end of the season ?

  106. Rasp says:

    Hi chary,

    I was under the impresion that an official announcement had been made to that effect – I’ll go and check….

  107. charybdis1966 says:

    That’s quite possible Raspers – I may have been in the midst of another one of my Mugabe media lockdowns when that announcement was made.

  108. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Take Lampard out of the Chav XI and look what happens. Remove world class Cesc and people shouldn’t be supprised we come up short against top opposition.

  109. Rasp says:

    Hi Micky,

    I agree, I have a the bones of a post on the subject so I won’t expand now except to say TV back and a fit Cesc and we will win the title… 🙂

  110. Rasp says:

    chary,

    The story was led by the NotW and has been refuted by the club so maybe he’s not offski – although I don’t know how much longer his knees can handle that warm up?

  111. California Gooner says:

    Great write up, lots of fun to read. My perception, however, was that we were pretty well outplayed in the first half. Why? After sleeping on it, I think were out-numbered in midfield where Anderson and Park ganged up on Alex Song and pressured relentlessly. In the second half, Nasri played more centrally, and Wilshire started to control the midfield a bit. That left Sagna with acres of space to attack in as Evra was sucked inside. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make anything from that. However, i think there are lessons to be learned there: we need to control the midfield, and to do so, we need three or four very skilled players playing close to each other — suck the other team in, and then kick the ball out into space. That requires that we play something of an ‘unbalanced’ formation, with one of wingers coming infield and acting like a fourth midfielder. It also suggests to me — and I’m going to loose 90 percent of you on this one– that Eboue could be very effective in such a formation.

  112. Afternoon

    Micky’s comment at 3.41 has determined that it should fall to me – the girl – to lash out the blame.

    I said yesterday that AW would send his team out to play their football whereas Fergie would send his team out to play us. Smith 14 has said a similar thing.

    We only know one way to play and if that doesn’t come off we usually don’t win – somtimes we’re unlucky enough to lose while playing our football. Fergie will have instructed his players to keep Nasri quiet, to stop Jack from having any foothold in mid-field and upset our rhythm.

    Fergie uses tactics and Arsene doesn’t, we just play our game and hope it comes off. A fit Cesc and van Persie could have made all the difference but not necessarily on a bad pitch so instead of Arsene relying on the intelligence of his players he needs to do a bit more ‘spoon feeding’ IMO

  113. California Gooner says:

    Peaches, a fit Cesc next to Jack would have allowed us to dominate the midfield, good field or poor field. I have no doubts about that because he never needs to be ‘spoon fed’. He understands what is happening and makes the necessary adjustments. I also think a fit Diaby would have made a difference — he totally dominated them last year in the same fixture (but negated his good work with the silliest own-goal in memory). Or we could have started Theo on the right and moved Nasri into the midfield and allowed Arshivin to play more inside, pretty much mirroring their formation.

    It seems to me that United’s midfield was never meant to be creative — Fletcher and Carrick just aren’t all that–they are meant to destroy more than create. But that they are very powerful down the wings with Nani, Park and Evra in particular, and that Rooney is good at dropping back and then kicking the ball out. We are the opposite, preferring to play the ball in the center of the park. They managed to negate us in the center; Nani got just enough joy from Clichy on the wing. And they won.

  114. Big Raddy says:

    Good summation CG

  115. Red Arse says:

    It is absolutely fascinating to read the Arsenal blogs.

    Someone could do a Post on the post match comments after a loss. It would make interesting reading.

    Broad structure of chronological comments I have read today;

    a) Deep gloom.
    b) Finger pointing … casting aspersions and blame.
    c) Rationalising.
    d) Bounce back … lots of “if only’s” and “we could have’s”.
    e) Looking forward to next game … going to crush x or y etc.

    Fabulous!

    We normally have a look back to the invincibles too and compare how they would play as opposed to the current lot. Not been too much of that. Maybe nostalgia is not what it was!!! 🙂

  116. Big Raddy says:

    RA. I admire your courage. I only visit this site after a loss, I get too angry at some of the nonsense written elsewhere.

    Arsenal fans ….. my arse 🙂

  117. Mike says:

    Hello all, new here. Been reading this site for a loooonggg time now, and I thought it was about time I put in my two cents.

    First of all, I understand why Fletcher could have seen a red, but I think Webb handled it well. It was a big game and emotions run high, players make mistakes. Maybe a yellow card for that one, though of course I wouldn’t have minded to see red. As for Ferdinand’s challenge. For me, that’s a straight red. I don’t care if he didn’t make full contact. That was a reckless and could have seriously injured Sagna. This is where referees need to set a precedent that these challenges are simply not going to be tolerated. I was a referee a couple years back and I learned specifically that dangerous intent was caution, if not red card worthy.

    That being said, I can’t blame the loss on Webb. Our players were just going through the motions. I saw very little fire in the hearts of our players. When I’m on the pitch and one nil down, I won’t stop trying until that final whistle blows and I can be satisfied with my performance, win or lose. That was not the case with our players today. Thirty minutes to go and I see very little urgency or intensity from any of them. There is no spirit, no real grit and determination to prove to the world that the Arsenal is truly one of the greatest squads in Europe. Instead, we let a mediocre at best Manchester United team sit back and easily defend their lead.

    Lastly, onto the ratings. I agree with your rating on Szcesny. He looks top class, and other than some poor distribution in the first half, he was impressive. Squillaci in my opinion was very poor, whereas I believe Clichy picked up his game a bit (at least from the last time he faced Nani). Not a great performance, and he is always prone to errors, but definitely better than I imagined. Song was pretty awful for me. Rosicky and Wilshere worked hard as always, but were quite ineffective. Nasri was nowhere to be found in the first half, but stepped it up a bit in the second, especially when penetrating the Manure defense through the middle. Definitely needs to play centrally. Arshavin had glimpses of what he can do in the first half, but just had a bad game and was a step behind everyone else, as opposed to the partizan game where he just didn’t really seem to care. Apart from that, I agree with the rest of the ratings.

    Sorry for the wall of text. Looking forward to more posts in the future.

  118. Big Raddy says:

    Mike. Fine first comment, don’t let it be your last!

  119. Rasp says:

    Hi Mike,

    Sorry your comment went into moderation – we’ve had to put the filter on today only as we were experiencing a high level of input from abusive manc bloggers.

    Thanks for your very well constructed and considered words. I don’t know if you are in the UK, but the majority of regulars go quiet at about this time as they are commuting home, but I’m sure many will want to respond to your thoughts when they can.

  120. RockyLives says:

    Welcome Mike. Some very reasoned comments there.
    In the cold light of day I would agree that I may have rated Song a bit too highly.

    I thought we did carry on fighting and I’m not sure there was a massive lack of grit, but then, we lost, so it’s a hard position to argue. You just come up against “they wanted it more.”

    I just feel that with a couple of breaks in our favour we could really push on. I must be the world’s biggest ‘glass half full’ man because I’m now transferring my optimism to the Chavski game, which I’m convinced we’ll win.

  121. Big Raddy says:

    We have to get past Stoke first RL !

  122. Red Arse says:

    Mike,

    I was just closing down, but I am glad I spotted and read your comment. Excellent points and very valid. (although you have been too nice to Clichy 😦 )

    Please stick with us as we could do with the input of a referee/specialist, otherwise I might have to go and really check the Rules rather than rely on my B/S. 🙂

    Tomorrow guys! 🙂

  123. RockyLives says:

    Wasn’t ignoring Stole BR. It was more that, like most of us, I feel we really need to beat one of the Big Two and soon for this group of players to push on. The next opportunity to do that is, fortunately, coming up very soon.

  124. RockyLives says:

    *or even Stoke

  125. Neamman says:

    I think this was the game for Song and Denilson to start together. But basically for me..we stil havent adequatly replaced PV4, maybe a Yaya Toure would have done it.
    I like Song but he has yet to impose himself on a game for me the way Vieira did. I also feel we are just too predicatable in team selection. For me I would have started Theo just because its probably what SAF would not have expected. I think the effects of playing almost every game has caught up on Chamack and he desperatly needs a rest. I hope we see Theo and Nic starting on saturday against Stoke.
    Please, dont start Cesc until he is 100% fit.

  126. SharkeySure says:

    Top class Rocky !!! No change there then….

    26 May – “it really annoys me to see our players not matching the energetic determination of their opponents”

    Mike – “Thirty minutes to go and I see very little urgency or intensity from any of them. There is no spirit, no real grit and determination”

    That’s my overriding thought from yesterdays game. Two minutes of injury time left and a free kick deep in our half is passed to our keeper and three more shortish passes ensue before RVP puts a cross into the box which leads to Theo’s tame (wild?) effort.

    A winning mentality would have the keeper wavin his troops into the box and strarting a minin Alamo. We really are the only side that I can think of who will continue to probe for an opening with so little time on the clock. We’ll also still have a back four in our half marking no one, or at best, one fat granny shagging striker.

    Ok we’re not Stoke, but would it really hurt to push Squillaci up front and start an aerial bombardment for the duration of injury time..?? After all, Theo’s effort came from a weak headed clearance !

  127. SharkeySure says:

    Scratched record alert !!!!

    For all of Song’s misplaced passes yesterday, I still look at his approach to games and can’t help but think that if we had more players with his attitude we would see a real upturn in our fortunes.

    He’s strong, he’s quick (out paced Evra!!), he’s normally a good passer, and one of our best in the air.

    For all he gets told to stay back by so many, he has scored vital goals this season and been heavily involved in a fair few of our recent goals.

    Personnel and circumstances dictated that he guard the back gate for most of the 2nd half yesterday, but I for one was cursing that we had no Denilson out there to allow him to push on a bit.

    So I agree with Neamann re Song and Denilson, Neamann prob got the idea from a comment of mine from last night !! 😉 In all seriousness mine was a bit of hindsight insight if you like, based on how ineffective I thought Rosicky was.

    Last point on Song. Give him credit for never hiding away. Misplace two passes, and he’ll still want the ball under pressure, yeah he might then misplace a third, but then again he might not.

    Why do so many people completely overlook the great defensive work he does for us..??

    Clichy is also much maligned, I thought he played Nani very well for the most part. He’s another one with the right amount of guts and determination !!!

  128. SharkeySure says:

    Neamann, re PV4. You let me know if on your travels you ever see a talent that even reaches 85% of our Paddy in his prime.

    I feel privileged to have seen both Maradona and now Messi in my lifetime. That’s like seeing two comets (??) for me.

    I must have seen 100 new Vieira’s in the last 5-10 years, none of them get past even 5mins worth of comparison. Players like Paddy live on forever in our memories, they just cannot be replaced !!

    *tissue* and *tears* 😉

  129. SharkeySure says:

    There’s nearly 3 posts (or one long ramble) for ya Peaches !!!

    Nite

  130. Mike says:

    Didn’t expect such a warm first welcome, thanks!

    I’m actually from the United States. It is my dream to go to London and see a game at Emirates one day. I’d also love to see Highbury. I’m sure it’s immaculate. I’m quite jealous of all you who live in breathe football over there in Europe!

    Rocky-I agree that we did want it. We didn’t want it enough though. You’re right, Manchester wanted it much more. And they knew they could do it. We on the other lacked belief and determination. That’s a huge difference in the game, in this case it was enough to overcome a team with more skill and technical ability. Sometimes I wish I was out there to rally the troops. Maybe one day… 🙂

    As for the game against Chelsea, I feel actually more optimistic about it than the game against Stoke. Stoke always gives us a bit of trouble with their brute force, and if our players don’t approach the game the right way, they will be in for another long game that could go in the opposition’s favor. I think a win for Manchester next weekend will do us more good than if Chelsea wins. Though it will extend their lead at the top, Chelsea will have gone yet another game without a win in the league. Of course, they have to win eventually, and they always love (especially Drogba) to give us a game. However, we performed very well against them away from home, and were unlucky to lose, giving us a bit of confidence for the home game.

  131. Mr Arsenal says:

    Great article- absolutely right about Fletcher’s disgraceful conduct when he sprinted after referee Webb, following what appeared to be a complete dive by the Scott at Song’s feet and showed his complete lack of class by barging into and screaming at Howard Webb. Maybe the world cup referee enjoys being manhandled. At least he allowed players from both teams to question his decisions during the game…or NOT. He booked Nasri for dissent in the second half, the gifted Frenchman, clearly a victim of double standards. Ferdinand’s karate kick on Sagna (a real warrior last night) also seemed to go unpunished by the myopic referee.

    I do think, however, that your criticism of Clichy is a bit harsh. The Frenchman played with real fight and desire last night, and defended resolutely against Nani (arguably Utd’s best attacking player this season). The goal was very unfortunate and extremely fortuitous- Clichy’s deflected block taking the ball into Park’s path, where credit must go to the South Korean for a great piece of improvisation to score.

    Just one other point to make. Evra is a conceited and petulant baby. His reaction to Wilshere’s challenge on him in the first half, was one of indignation. There’s no doubt that he’s a talented full-back but his arrogance and self-importance cannot be emphasised enough . His condescending commments about Arsenal before the game which were reported in a French magazine also illustrates the lack of respect he pays to his fellow professionals and to some of his French teammates. No wonder the French natinal team collapsed in complete disarray under his captaincy.

  132. London says:

    Hi Mike

    Not quite sure why you are surprised by the welcome, you write an interesting comment and make some very good points.

  133. Hi London – I’m just in the process of holding Sharkeys comments back to try and whip them into a post for tomorrow – do you want to save your comment until then too? If you haven’t taken it off before I go to bed I’ll hold it and put it back on tomorrow – ok?

  134. Rasp says:

    Late night last thought …. Vieira is my favourite Arsenal player of all time. The complete midfielder worth two of most opposition midfielders. I don’t think there is a current player anywhere who comes close to Vieira at his peak. Once again, Arsène was correct and moved him on at the right time. I don’t think the Invincibles would have been invincible without PV.

  135. ….. unless you fancy writing one London …..

  136. London says:

    I will delete it and repost tomorrow. As to writing a post, I am not there yet, something will come along that will get me going but I must admit I am enjoying some completely unpreasured blogging for the time being.

  137. RockyLives says:

    Mr A – thanks for the support re Howard Webb, Fletcher and Ferdinand. I’m surprised more Gooners weren’t outraged by his performance. I was beginning to think I’d watched a different game.

    And good comment about Evra. He obviously expected we were all going to try and kick him, which, of course, we didn’t. So when he got a little trip from Jack he went mental. Pathetic.

  138. London says:

    Wow, where are all these really good people coming from?

  139. London says:

    I’m going I just read Rasp’s comment and I can’t get Barbra Streisand out of my head.

  140. Rocky conjures them up to keep him company when we’ve all gone to bed 🙂

    London – thats fine, no pressure, whenever you’re ready

  141. RockyLives says:

    London – I know – great comments from Mike and Mr Arsenal.
    Welcome back any time guys.

  142. London says:

    Someone put a Vieira montage to the music, well nevermind I am sure you can picture him majestically eating up the ground as he bounded across the Highbury pitch.

  143. I was just trying to find something of that era to post for us 😦

  144. Thats rubbish, you can’t play it, hold on I’ll find another one

  145. Rubbish song choice I’m afraid but very nice footage

  146. Mike says:

    I guess I shouldn’t have said surprised by the welcome, because I know from past reads how great you all are here. Just glad I could contribute to the discussion and provoke some thought.

  147. RockyLives says:

    Mike, you would be surprised how many of us are exiles from North London. I live in Toronto. Neamann is in Canada (when he’s not in the Far East), as is GnarleyGeorge. Big Raddy is in Denmark ,kelsey is in Spain and Red Arse is in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

  148. California Gooner says:

    BTW, Koscielny a 6 on the player ratings? I thought he fantastic. Did Rooney really do anything at all?

  149. RockyLives says:

    Fair point CG. I’m so used to every slagging him off it probably influenced my marking. I actually think he’s going to be an outstanding player. I could see him being an awesone DM.

  150. Big Raddy says:

    RL. GG is in Tasmania, Aus. You know the country – it is the one losing the Ashes 🙂

    And California Gooner lives where you would expect him to!

    We are truly a worldwide community

  151. Morning all

    New Post

  152. The BearMan says:

    Excellent observation and precise feedback:

    One alternative – If Arsene is not willing to spend in the transfer market, his only other option is to play the fearless, JET, Afobe and Aneke. Arsenal is still playing with much fear and out game is fast becoming to predictable. These three lads are very, very hungry, 45 mins starting to wear down the opposition and to give the bench courage. But I feel they will battle so well that they will last the 60th min when the Boss likes to change things. Then bring on Walcott, RVP and Chamakh to deal with a weary opponent.

    We do not have the right mix of players to battle with a stronger opposition Neither in Defence or in attack.

  153. gunner4life says:

    We all hate Barca …
    for the cesc saga; and sure we do.
    But amid all these problems I have appreciated their persistance for the passing game and their love for it. Arsenal fans sure love the passing and the movement, but there is something else to be noticed.
    Barca has messi, who on many occasions provides the vital breakthrough that really decides the fate of the match (& thereby the outcome of the title race eventually).
    Arsenal DONT have a messi. Thus it becomes even more important to hold the fort and resist the seige i.e. KEEP PASSING when a goal down. As all know, Arsenal’s strenghth is passing which we should depend upon against tougher opposition. Its like Inter defending even BETTER when facing tougher opposition like Barca.
    I clearly know not how this can be or will be achieved. Maybe someone should instruct the players to ‘KEEP PASSING’. Though I do not know WHO should be responsible for instructing to ‘KEEP PASSING’ (the manger or the captain).
    The consistancy within a team starts first through the 90 min of a match and then can we look forward towards saving that form for the entire season.
    I am not a sky sports pundit but surely we could have edged out a draw if we had shown the same fighting spirit that we displayed against Barca (which I consider our finest performance in recent times).

    Lastly I will cherish all resposes to my response to the blog (especially from CHARLYBDIS1966)

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