Ok the match is only half way through, and the Mancs are rueing the missed chances. Had it not been for a bravura performance of Manuel Almunia we would have been already out of this tie. The score should have been 4-nil but we weathered the storm. We rode our luck and with some genuine endeavour clawed our way back. But the stats don’t make for nice reading
1st Half Goals
Shots on Target
Shots off Target
Arsene Wenger employed a strange formation which saw Samir Nasri play a deep holding midfielder role alongside the tenacious Song. A role that the young Frenchman appeared lost in. Song had a very good game and tried his best to connect the back four with the attacking midfielders, but Diaby was the weak link by virtue of his tendency to move centrally and leave Keiran Gibbs exposed. Having said that, Keiran did an excellent job on Ronaldo under the circumstances, and he seems to improve with every game. Man United were very disciplined allowing Arsenal possession up until the final third, where Arsenal were presented with two phalanxes of red shirts.
Ball retention was poor by Arsenal standards and our great threat Theo Walcott was never given the kind of quality ball which would enable him to run at the Manc defence. This was in part due to our midfield being overrun by the extra man of Manchester United. Fabregas seemed unsettled in his forward position, and often when he turned to deliver the ball there was no-one in a decent advanced position. Man United’s Evra hardly advanced over the half way line as he man marked Theo Walcott. Anderson and Carrick had a field day with much space to use as Man U stretched our defence across the pitch.
Tevez for Man United who had ran the game, with an astonishing work rate was everywhere. He would have scored had it not been for the excellent Almunia standing up to his near post half volley. The following corner saw Arsenal concede a goal when it came from a deflected ball was a comedy of defending, and one can clearly see Adebayor leave the two Manchester United attackers prematurely before the corner had been cleared. The three players on the far post were isolated prior to the cross coming over. Finally all that the unmarked O’Shea had to do was to strike the ball into the roof of the net. Keiran Gibbs was on the post for the corner and was unable to intercept the players.
Arsenal’s response was low key, and the late introduction of Bendtner showed what it might have been like to have out striker contribute to the game. Adbayor touches were few and far between. He cut a forlorn figure and seems unable to raise his game. I have asked myself why he cannot deliver on such a big stage, and regrettably the answer is extremely negative. He is only proving what I said all those months ago, His work rate, first touch and desire is not consistent enough for a club of our ambition. He wants the ball delivered on a plate, and it is so frustrating to see his potential wasted.
So I am going to be controversial yet again, and state my believe that until we employ a killer striker we will win nothing. Adebayor is NOT that striker. We must either find one within our ranks and play him ahead of Adebayor or accept our fate. Because scoring a goal will push back the opposition. It will provide timely relief and confidence for the team. Eduardo could have been that player, but he was introduced too late. Tactically Arsene Wenger got it quite wrong in my humble opinion, but it is his opinion that counts. He must deliver next Tuesday or see the season end with more frustration. In the end, we will have potentially much to look forward too, and we have Almunia to thank for that.