The team that walked out against Manchester United may not have been the same as the one that walked out at the Lane in the Carling Cup, but both teams produced a very similar performance. They gave us one with no passion, no commitment, no pride, no bottle and ultimately a lack of quality. Like that night at the Lane, Arsenal failed to string more than 2 passes together before giving it straight to United. Man Utd were not THAT good, Arsenal were just that bad.
Before the game I said a win for Man Utd would not provide much of a psychological boost but losing by such a large margin will. I know the two teams will be very different come April but this must have some influence on proceedings. To the game anyway.
From the back to the front we were piss poor, only Jens Lehmann came away from Old Trafford with any credit. Lehmann prevented this game from becoming a hockey score. He came out of his area at least 3 times to deny Rooney and Nani unchallenged efforts on goal. On each of those occasions it was an Arsenal player, yes an Arsenal player that started the move from which they raced clear.
Each goal had an Arsenal error firmly at the heart of it. This is not an excuse but a simple fact that Arsenal gifted them each of the four goals and did all they could to gift them even more. One by one lets look at the goals.
1-0 Poor defending led to Arsenal conceding a corner kick. The ball was half cleared and a weak challenge from Fabregas let Anderson head the ball into back into the danger. If that was not enough, Justin Hoyte failed to get goal side of Rooney, leaving him with the simple task of putting the ball past Lehmann
2-0 Fabregas lost the ball in his own half with a ridiculous pass across his own back four. From here Nani ran clear and managed to put in a cross. Darren Fletcher lost Fabregas (again!) who managed to beat Gallas who did not do enough in the air to clear the ball.
3-0 Possesion was lost once again to Michael Carrick who noticed Nani creeping in behind Traore for the countless time and Nani was left clear to slot home. This was not the only time Traore had played a United player onside as he failed to push up with his fellow defenders. It was not to be the last however.
4-0 Justin Hoyte again now. Up against Nani out wide near the touchline, he let Nani push him back into the Arsenal box without any sort of challenge. From here Nani twisted and turned Hoyte once more and once more Fletcher lost his man, Flamini this time, and headed home. To be fair to Flamini he had only just come on.
There is no question that Man Utd were better than Arsenal today, the stats are conclusive but it did seem to me that the players did not care about this game, and neither did Wenger. Granted we could only field a team of 11 fit players and those on the bench were carrying injuries but this performance was not good enough. In both the domestic cup competitions we have gone to our rivals and capitulated to an astonoshing effect.
Wenger showed he was out to make this a difficult game for United, but not one to trouble their defence. He has persisted with Eduardo as a left sided midfield player but it does not work. He looks lost out there and fails to help the full back Traore who was left open throughout. Hleb played as a support to Bendtner but did not get close to him. As soon as Eduardo moved up front we looked more dangerous. Hleb looked more comfortable back on the left and Eduardo started to link the midfield and attack. United were given license to attack as they knew we were never going to threaten.
At the back Toure and Gallas looked like they have never played together before and need to get the understanding back. It did not help that Hoyte and Traore looked hapless and were constantly left marking space as United’s wingers were left free to roam. They made Nani and Park look like world beaters. As skipper Gallas should have led by example but he and Toure were left bamboozled by Rooney way too often.
Gilberto was supposed to offer protection to the back four but once more he was off the pace, sloppy in possession and weak in the tackle. Ironically, with Flamini out, the sort of player we needed was preparing for an FA Cup game with Preston tomorrow. Diarra should still be at Arsenal with a real chance of playing right now, not Gilberto who has no future here past the summer. As soon as Flamini was on he pressured United in possession and got stuck in; he was also slightly injured.
Fabregas seemed knackered to me and I am sure that he would have been rested if we did not have so many players injured. He has not looked himself recently and we all hope he sorts this come Wednesday. Hleb offered no support to the front man as I said and his passing was not what we expect from him. His usual calmness was lost and where one expects him to link up well with Cesc, we saw nothing of the sort.
On the wing Eboue was non existent. Not once did he try and get at Evra and I only noticed him as he was shown the red card. Now seems like the perfect time to rant about the ref. Like a few years ago when the Neville brothers kicked lumps out of Reyes unpunished, Alan Wiley let some United players get in some terrible fouls without seeing yellow. As soon as an Arsenal player made one foul, he was duly booked. Emmanuel Eboue went up for the header with his eyes on the ball all the time. I know his foot was high but he did not kick out and he merely landed on Evra.
Another rant now and that lies with the BBC. John Motson and Mark Lawrenson were so far up United’s arse it was unbelievable. I have never heard so many jibes towards Arsenal in one game and anyone would think Wayne Rooney had achieved world piece the way they went on. It was not only these two individuals who had jumped on the Man U bandwagon. You may all remember a goal disallowed for an offside. To me it was a very dubious decision yet we never once saw a replay. Anytime a United player was offside they showed it from 3 different angles. Earlier in the game Eduardo was clearly tripped on the edge of the box but nothing was given. Once more, no replays. What is going on BBC??
I have sent a quick comment to the BBC asking for an explanation and hope they have the kindness to explain themselves. I doubt I’ll hear anything anytime soon though.
Eduardo and Bendtner were a bit unlucky, in my eyes anyway. Eddy was out of position for most of the game but tried hard to make something of the game whenever he got it. Bendtner worked hard whenever the ball was lumped up to him but he simply had no support. When Ade came on we looked a little more potent but his dive was disgraceful and I hope we see no more of such antics.
These stats below sum it up really. United were up for it, Arsenal were not. Hopefully they had one eye on the Milan game and we see a performance completely different from the one they produced today.
Man Utd 6
Man Utd 21
Man Utd 12
There is not much more to say really. We all saw it, we all know how poor it was. Hopefully Wednesday will be a very different story.
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