Man U v. Arsenal: stages set at Theater of Disgrace

Saturday 3 November 2012, Old Trafford. Manchester United versus The Arsenal. Mike Dean the referee. Robin van Persie their star player.

This could get ugly. In a number of ways.

It could get ugly in the way that Manchester United teams always ugly up their game against Arsenal. They love to sit back and kick Arsenal up and down the pitch. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if their game plan tomorrow is to target Cazorla the way that they targeted Reyes in 2004. That was the infamous “Battle of the Buffet” where Referee Mike Riley awarded Manchester United a penalty in the 70th minute when Wayne Rooney dived over Sol Campbell’s leg. Wenger said that Rooney admitted that there was no contact and that left Arsene Wenger fuming about Mike Riley awarding United a penalty stating “We got the usual penalty awarded against us when we come to Manchester United and they are in difficulty.” That game ended Arsenal’s unbeaten run at 49 games.

Refereeing tends to play an unusually large part in these games, and the game could get ugly with Mike Dean as referee. Mike Dean’s record as referee in Arsenal matches is quite extraordinary. Prior to August 2009, Arsenal played 25 matches in all competitions with Mike Dean as referee and their record was W15 D9 L1. Since August 2009, Arsenal have played 15 matches with Dean as referee and their record is W2 D5 L8. Mike Dean has awarded 3 penalties in those last 15 games, all to the opposition: Man U, Burnley, and Tottenham.

What was so special about that game in August 2009? Rooney was awarded a penalty when he shouldn’t have been. He was bearing down on the ball in the box, kicks it into the Stretford End, and before any contact is made, begins to falls to the ground. Not all contact is a foul folks, and this is an instance where the contact is not a foul and given that he would never recover the ball in a billion years, should not have been awarded that penalty.

The game, however, was far from over at that point and Arsenal fought back to draw level at 2-2 when Robin van Persie’s equalizer was ruled offside on William Gallas in the buildup. This prompts Arsene Wenger to kick a water bottle and Mike Dean sends Arsene off on the advice of the fourth official, Lee Probert. Mike Dean sends Arsene Wenger off but sends him into the stands to be humiliated by the United fans as they sing their vile pedophile chant at him. In the aftermath of the game Keith Hackett (then chief of the referee’s association) forces Lee Probert to apologize to Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal’s record with Lee Probert as referee since? P7 W2 D2 L3.

It’s all so strange that Mike Riley, the official in the Battle of the Buffet, is now the head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board — which is the organization that decides which match officials will referee games. He picked Mike Dean to referee this match. Please, do me a favor and try to tell me that wasn’t intentional.

Even if Mike Dean has a good game, it could get ugly because Manchester United’s new superstar left Arsenal as a disgrace. Despite chattering all Spring about how much he loved Arsenal and as Gingers for Limpar points out in this exceptional piece sending his women to talk about how much they love Arsenal and wanted to stay, he apparently went to Arsene Wenger’s house and demanded that specific players be signed, players he named. When Wenger outlined his plans to buy Podolski and others to strengthen his squad, it was reportedly not enough for the Dutchman and a fiery argument ensued. Wenger decided then and there to be shot of this player who suddenly felt like he could dictate Arsenal’s transfer policy. That he was bigger than the club.

Arsenal tried to offload him to Juventus. They even offered Juve a cut rate deal of somewhere like £15m. Juventus stumped the money and Robin refused to sign for the Old Gray Lady, that should tell you right there that he wanted to fuck Arsenal. Man City offered Robin the most lucrative personal terms but refused to pay Arsenal’s asking price and so in the end Robin signed with Manchester United. Apparently, with the signing of Cazorla, Robin changed his mind and wanted to stay at the Arsenal. But given the argument in the Spring, the Independence Day letter to the fans and the insults toward management it contained, and his refusal to sign for Juventus, there was no way he could stay at Arsenal.

And som this will be Robin’s first look in at Man U v. Arsenal from the other side. The side that cheats to get a win, that has no honor, that deliberately targets technically gifted players with shit-kickers, and who are encouraged to dive to win penalties. A look in from the side that gets all the calls from referees like Mike Riley, Lee Probert, and Mike Dean.

Robin is the kind of player who takes things personally. If he isn’t itching to get one over on Arsenal, I would be very, very surprised. And if he hasn’t been told by his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, to do whatever it takes to win this game, I will also be very, very surprised. That’s why I think Robin will play with elbows flying, something he was criticized by Fergie for last year but will be encouraged to do tomorrow. Robin will also put in some spicy tackles, probably on Cazorla. Remember, that Adebayor’s stamp on Robin’s face came after Robin slid in from distance with studs raised. And though he doesn’t have a reputation as a diver, I have no doubt that should the opportunity present itself, Robin van Persie will dive to try to win a penalty. I can think of nothing uglier than that scene.

The stages are set at the Theater of Dreams and there might even be a football game hidden in all this drama tomorrow. Though I kind of doubt it. There’s just too much history of bad blood between the teams. But if some football does happen to occur remember that Man United’s defense isn’t the best right now and their midfield is kind of crap as well. There’s something of a chance here for Arsenal, I think. And while I’m not making any predictions, apart from van Persie covering himself in ignominy, I hold out hope that Arsenal will rise above all the drama and put in a performance worthy of the club.


62 thoughts on “Man U v. Arsenal: stages set at Theater of Disgrace

  1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1jeff wright

    Wenger has yet to field a side at Old Trafford that scores more than 2 goals in a game . The two last season that we scored were the most we have scored in the league since George Graham was with us. Unfortunately though United scored 8 !
    I’m not expecting that tomorrow , but I will be surprised if we don’t concede at least one or two goals . Arsene will need to improve on his strike rate at Old Trafford with us going there and winning 1-0 looking about as unlikely as the spuds winning the league .

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1marek

      Yup, that’s the problem. The “six goals allowed in nine matches” stat is pretty meaningless away to United. They will have at least a couple of penalty “shouts” with a pretty good chance of the ref handing them one, and a guy like RvP will get his chances to score. These are discrete moments that simply are certain to happen tomorrow.

      What is not certain is what happens for the remaining 85 or so minutes of the game. And we are not powerless during these 85 or so minutes. United’s other offensive threats can be reduced, if we dominated their midfield that maybe will allow our full-backs to remain tighter at the back instead of risking runs to help out, a guy like Giroud will also get his chances, at least from set pieces etc. I’m cautiously optimistic about tomorrow.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Midfield has to tick.

        Jack is just back and needs to get up to pace with Arteta, Santi, Podolski (dare I say Walcott).

        If they do, we can beat them.

  2. -5 Vote -1 Vote +1Malaysian gunner

    Arsenal are the weaker team .Wenger shd flood the md . If he goes besrserk on the attack,the defence will be ruthlessly exposed.Tactically he has been exposed as inferior to red faced.The stat sprove it.
    Furthermore the ref could help red faced. You never know. You will know in fifty years time a certain rf was helped by refs to win all the time. I am including the FA as accomplices.
    For the game,evry gunner must not go awol as far as defence is concerned. If you deny time and space,all top players will find it hard ,not impossible to score.For this game I will have GG in charge .He knows how to nick a 1-0 win. No need elaborate and play fancy football. Just play to win. That;s the problem with WEnger all these years.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    F*** me! Mike Dean?! Guess Fergie wants to make absolutely sure that RvP gets on the scoresheet against his former club with a dubious penalty award. Whatever hope I had of getting points from this fixture has now been considerably diminished.

    This could be season defining month for us. Of our five BPL games, three are against teams who currently sit above us in the standings and a fourth game is against the team sitting immediately below us. We play two games in the Champions League including a very testing away fixture agaisnt Schalke. At the end of the month, we could be firmly in fourth in the BPL looking at getting back in the title race or firmly midtable and looking up at fourth. We could be back in control of the Group B in the Champions League or having to go to Greece needing a win to qualify for the knockout stages. Or anything in between. Here’s to getting this run off well.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Expect a minimum 12 minutes added time then if we for some reason find ourselves ahead at end of game.

  4. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    We are going to win tomorrow. We shall overcome the disgraces and disservices and disses in general of Robin van Cuntsie.
    I would love to see him take the penalty and have Don Vito slap it away, just like van Nistelrooy was shamed not too long ago. I’d love to not have the penalty awarded in the first place. I’d lice a win tomorrow.
    Come on Arsenal!

  5. Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    “And so this will be Robin’s first look in at
    Man U v. Arsenal from the other side. The side
    that cheats to get a win, that has no honor,
    that deliberately targets technically gifted
    players with shit-kickers, and who are
    encouraged to dive to win penalties.”
    Please someone print this part and stick it somewhere in the dressing room. I would end it with a Leonidas-esque “This is THE ARSENAL!!!!!”

  6. +5 Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

    Great piece, and my blood is up now.
    1) as far getting kicked around the pitch, I could care less. This is how a lot of teams play us away at their home field. If we can’t adjust to that we’ll never win anything, especially as referees look the other way when it comes to Arsenal.
    2) Speaking of refs, the whole Mike dean thing is worrisome. We need to have the patience of Jobe to deal with this scenario.
    3) The comments regarding the details of RvP’s transfer are news to me. If this character assination is true, it is truly cretinous on his part and a major disappointment to so many of us who supported him through his injuries and absences. Don’t know what else to say really.
    4) Finally, although we haven’t beaten mufc since 2006, this week proved anything is possible so don’t listen to your heads this weekend folks. Listen to your hearts and COYG….

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        Actually, it’s compiled from various respected sources. It is hearsay however and as such open to criticism.

  7. Vote -1 Vote +1WindyCityArse

    I’m more than slightly nervous about this match. Hopefully the COC comeback has ignited some sort of spark within the rest of the team. Unfortunately, if you look at all our potential weaknesses on the pitch, I think having Mannone in goal is the most problematic.

    I think United is still suspect in defense and we’ll have our chances. I’m hoping for more energy than there was against Norwich, Schalke and QPR. It will be interesting to see what kind of squad Arsne chooses. Does Theo start? Ramsey? Giroud? Ox?

    I don’t like that we’ve stopped really getting updates on the progress of Woj, Diaby, Gibbs, or Rosicky.

  8. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    I think we can get something at United (Ref apart)

    Where we are likely less competitive than them is likely in two key areas :

    1) Striker. Hate to say this but with RVP and Rooney playing, they have more threat in this department than Giroud.

    2) Our LB area. whilst we can put pressure on them (particularly at some stage if Walcott comes on) against the overrated Evra with Sagna and Jack, they will put us under duress with our weak link Santos and target this flank.

    Other than that, I think we’re fairly even across the park and maybe even stronger in midfield with Santi/Jack/Arteta provided we of course turn up with the right mindset and defensive discipline.

    They will come at us and we should not let them get too deep into our own half thereby the RW is key. Effectively, if we have the speed to break (read Walcott) , we will be able to pick them apart. Plus convesrely, it will help alleviate our LW with Podolski/Santi.

    The back line for United have been shaky and with Giroud flanked by both Podolski and Walcott tucked in, we can put them under considerable pressure whilst retaining a capacity to strech them wide if necessary.

    The question then is if/when we play Walcott. He’s had 120 minutes of footy so Wenger may start Ramsey first RW. Personally I prefer Walcott on first to do the damage rather than us going behind and having to chase.

    Hope the motivation from Wednesday carries through. Nothing better than winning this one as a parting gift for RVP.

  9. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    I’d start Giroud, bomb the hell out of that defense with crosses and go for the 2nd ball with midfielders. :D

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      A lot of this discussion on whether to play Walcott as a forward is frankly nonsense.

      Effectively, the players have great freedom of movement with the way we play. In the present 4-3-3 (and with Sagna back, + I suppose Santos is good going forward as he is atrocious defending), we can effectively tuck in both Podolski and (say) Walcott allowing both these players to penetrate coming in from flank off of the big man Giroud (or for that matter maybe a rejuvenated Chamakh)

      This should put plenty of pressure on the two United Cbacks at Old Trafford.

      Plus with Jack playing higher next to Santi, extra support is available from both of them on either of our flanks or for either to attack through the middle.

  10. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Jaymin

    I hope we do them, couldn’t care less how we play as long as we win. If we have to be the agricultural English up in them team, so be it. Their defense is terrible, so we will score. They have rvp, so they will score. Let’s hope we get more!

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1GiantGooner

    I don’t understand the claim that van Persie will dive to win a penalty. I can’t recall him doing that in the recent past, and its an inflammatory thing to say, so why are you comfortable saying it without using evidence to back the claim up?

    1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      Because he is a dirty cunt and all of the Man U forwards are told to dive. If it doesn’t happen I will admit I was wrong. If it does, will you?

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Would have loved a win, of course, but as my eyes glazed over in a alcohol-infused daydream, I saw in the spirit world a glimpse of the future: 3-0 to United tomorrow. I snapped back to reality, and then thought that because I’m an Arsenal fan I should at least add a consolation goal. So I’m going with 3-1 to United.

    I just don’t see any way around Mike Dean, and furthermore, we never seem to be able to win grudge matches. Don’t know why.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        I guess that’s the way it looks, yeah. But I’ve been watching Arsenal for too long and Old Trafford matches too long to imagine we’ll get anything out of this game. Usually, when we’re in the position of trying to show a player up or a grudge match (as in this case), we get a player sent off and lose the match. Honestly, I can’t explain why, but that’s just the way it is. It’s fucked.

      2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        Plus, you gotta understand, I want Arsenal to win so bad my teeth hurt. But it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this team has it in them to “prove their credentials” and other cliches, etc. I know it seems like I’m the shittiest fan in the world, but I’m trying to adjust to new expectations.

        This just isn’t the Invincibles any more, folks. This is the “fourth place is a trophy” era at Arsenal, and though I’d love to fuck Robin van Persie in the face with a shovel, I just know that fucking piece of shit for a human being will have the last laugh.

  13. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

    Tim, you are in a real purple patch with your posts at the moment. The last few have been fantastic.

    Santos is gonna have to have a blinder today, because while Valencia is not much of a scoring threat, he is the main supply line for the ManUre forwards. The chunky Brazilian was okay against QPR, but this ain’t QPR.

    I hope Walcott gets a start too. Ramsey has been okay but he doesn’t threaten, and with Giroud and Podolski not really firing right now, we need someone with some scoring pedigree. And with Evra no longer at the peak of his powers, Walcott may be able to capitalise. With Wilshere, Cazorla and Giroud we have guys who can create openings for him.

  14. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Wonderful setting of the stage Tim…right up at the theatre of disgrace..

    Last time we played here, we started with a nubile Jenkinson and the famed Djourou-scielny in the defence…Left back was…a guy who hadnt played for us for three years and then never again played for us..if you remember him..”Our-man-Traore”…
    Rosicky who just returned from injury had leCoq who was making his league debut to “command the midfield”…Arshavin and Walcott drifted wide…and we had the penalty misser up front…
    If things went awry..which inevitably did…we had Ox and Lansbury to look forward to in the bench.. Ox was a debutant and Lansbury had played twice as a substitute in premier league games in 4 years since he came to the big set up. He too never played for us afterwards..Other than them, we had Chamakh who the manager had no faith in..and two youngsters who are no more at the club…Sunu and Ozyakup…

    United sent in Ryan Giggs and Big game player Ji Sung Park while we gave debut to Ox…

    On a day we were programmed to fail.. we conceeded 6 goals from outside the box and missed a penalty…

    Today we are much better prepared is what I believe…we come to play on the back of an ugly win and a great come back thriller with two different teams…we have all our first XI available.. No more debutants on bench…except may be Martinez..Poldi, Cazorla and Giroud are no more new here…there are no kids in the team who we have to protect…All are men enough to stuff the football into Evras mouth…if he dares open it..

    I think we are programmed to win today…but more than anything that hurts me from the 8-2, more than the traitor jumping to their squad..Arsenal need those 3 points. To prove that they are in the race…

    Not 0…not 1… 3 points pretty please….

  15. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

    Just caught up on ManUre’s 5-4 defeat to Chelsea. Even in defeat they were given two extremely generous calls – a clear handball in the area not called (it was at very close range, but the arm was stretched right out), and a cynical last-man foul on Sturridge that was only given as a yellow.

    That is what we are up against folks.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      Yes. It might come down to big decisions like that, but Dean favours a more low key approach usually. Look for him to give a lot of soft fouls against us in the middle of the park, and on the other hand allowing ManU to kick lumps out of Cazorla, Podolski and possibly Jack. Of course if any of them react, a red will be brandished double quick.

      It’s a shame that a game of football (and even football related drama) has to involve a discussion on the referee. The X-factor in Ferguson’s success.

  16. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

    Arsenal 87 shots and 6 goals allowed – 7% conversion
    Man U 122 shots allowed and 13 goals allowed – 11% conversion

  17. Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    At Maggie McGarry’s. Nice crowd building. last time we went down while I was here, Arsenal won 5-2 at Spuds. Hoping gor the same again today. Come on Arsenal

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1marek

    Dang, as predicted. Penalty vs. us wasn’t really “soft” but I’m only saying that because Rooney fu**ed it up so deliciously. Other than that Dean ain’t all bad. This CAN be done, but I think a shuffle of the offensive guys may be needed.

  19. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    We learned that Man U are not Reading.
    RVP was a steal by Man U.
    Cazorla and Poldoski cannot blame the lack of a winter break for the drop off in form.
    Wilshere still our best outfield player in spite of the red card.
    Ramsey on the right, what’s the point?
    Drop Vermaelen.
    We’ve been been piss poor for a few games.

  20. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1marek

    Andre Santos – his defensive frailties can be easily forgiven if he contributes offensively. Like he did at Chelsea last season. A less effective Santos turned up today.

    Speaking of our left flank, Podolski?

    We made Dean’s job easy for him. Reasonable people could argue that Jack’s stepping on Evra’s foot is yellow-card-worthy, whereas Cleverley’s clattering into Jack was merely worthy of a final warning. The former really is more dangerous. Overall, very little can be laid on the feet of the ref. And yet, United did get their penalty, and they did get an opponent red-carded…

    Overall, though, the worst part is that United, yet again, showed us who the daddy is, and it ain’t us. I can’t remember how often Rooney would just rush one of our mids and just take the ball away, as from a child. At no point did we force the United guys to concede that, even for a brief moment, we were better.

    1. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

      Actually for a brief period of about 10 mins in the second half, I think we did play well enough to suggest that. But that’s the thing. We can’t maintain that. We played decently today, but we lack something. Some spark. And I think that’s something that can only be supplied through the transfer market now.

      It was always going to be unlikely we’d win today, and gifting them an early goal only made it tougher. (It was the second goal that killed our belief though) But I’m not disheartened by today. I think we have a good team. But we saw today that this is one season too early for us. I really really hope we build on this team in January and in the summer, so we can launch a real assault at the title next season. For this year, a top 4 place, a deep run in the CL, and a domestic cup win are I think what constitute a balance of high and realistic expectations.

  21. Vote -1 Vote +1Michigangunner

    How poor is this Arsenal team? The lack of belief against teams like Norwich and QPR. How poor are we? No energy, nobody running at or closing down the opponent.
    This team doesn’t care about Arsenal. Wenger is more worried about his pocket than winning. Wenger’s and Gazidis chicken are coming home to roost.
    We will win nothing with Wenger! Yes he was once great but now he sucks and sucks up to SAF. What happened to him?
    In Arsene we continue to rust.

  22. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    Can’t wait for the By the numbers on this match. From I can gather, we didn’t show up. It was totally deja vu from that Milan away match. You could see who was playing to get to the top of the table and who is playing for the top 4 trophy.

    Speaking of which… Does anyone remember the last time that we were top of the table?

    Something is fishy with Verm and Kos. How can they look so naive this season?

    How come a midfiled of Arteta-Wilshere-Cazorla that had us drooling since the season started was totally outplayed by cleverley and carrick???? Beats me.

    There’s so much to say, but in a nutshell, I was expecting more of a fight, not precisely swapping (swapping? what the hell would the dutch dude want Santos shirt???) shirts at half time? Man.. do it inside the tunnel at least…. cheezus…

  23. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurasian

    I’m done with Vermaelen. I don’t know exactly what has happened to him, but he’s not fit to wear the armband. Give it to Arteta who at least looks like he knows how to play football.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

      Yeah, TV5 had a crappy game. But what has happened to Kozzer this season? Last year, Laurent was our best defender and one of the better defenders in the BPL. What happened to Djourou? Two seasons ago, Koz and JD formed a solid defensive partnership. Why can’t any of our defenders sustain any kind of decent form?

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurasian

        I’ve been thinking the same thing, Tee Song. Djourou, Koz & TV have each spent a season as our best central defender before turning a bit crap. Reminds me of Senderos, who looked the goods at one point too.

        How does this happen? Forget Steve Bould, we need a sports psychologist.

    2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Completely agree. Vermaelen hasn’t looked convincing yet this season. We were warned by Ajax fans. He’s an inconsistent player.

      Arteta is the real captain of this team.

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

        Arteta didn’t make any spectacular mistakes like Vermaelen but he had just as poor a game as Vermaelen.

      2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        I wasn’t thinking of this game in particular. I was thinking that Arteta is the far more consistent player overall, and clearly has the respect of the players. Vermaelen had a very good first season with us, at which point he gained this do-no-wrong status, but since his year out of the game, he’s been poor, and the problem now is that we have an out-of-form defender who is our captain…who can’t be dropped.

        Though, I guess one might legitimately wonder what other option we had. It’s not like Koscielny looks like anything more than a donkey these days.

      3. Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

        Tim: Arteta and Vermaelen had poor games but in different ways.

        Arteta was put under constant pressure and failed to make much happen. Vermaelen made two major errors under not a lot of pressure. His decision making in key moments has been found wanting all season.

  24. Vote -1 Vote +1Michigangunner

    “Outplayed” is a complement to us. We never showed up!! Berti Vogts is right. Podolski is lazy. Very talented but lazy. Now we know why he didn’t make it at Bayern. LAZY!!! It is a shame to see such talent going to waste.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

      No he’s not, he has a lot of work ethic in him for a forward playing out-wide. What he looks is unsure how to play that role in this team. Santos cuts inside and cramps the space. Santos is also not reliable so Poldi has to make sure he’s not overly attacking otherwise gaps will appear where Santos should be covering. (Santos also dives in leaving the rest of the defence in the lurch).

      He and his team-mates up front and in the middle are not generating space for one another. No one is taking the initiative, they all look like it should happen without effort. When it requires the whole team to be working to close space without the ball and make space with the ball. Last night we looked clueless, no ideas and poorly instructed, no tactical awareness of our or the other team’s faults.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

        Arsene is trying to turn an 18 goal scorer into a defensive left winger. The whole left side of the team was structurally suspect. Santos is not a strong defensive left back and TV5 has been error prone. In front of them, you have Wilshere who was getting caught too high up the pitch and Poldi who struggles because he’s being asked to do too much. He’s got important defensive duties and in possession he drops deep to help the midfield while still trying to get forward into scoring positions. Honestly, if Wenger insists on playing Santos, why not give him help by shifting Arteta to that side and even Ramsey to left wing.

  25. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Dear Arsene Wenger,

    The team that lost 8-2 had more fight in them than this team.


    Not a happy camper

    1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

      That’s one of the best summaries of one of the worst games I’ve ever seen us play at Old Trafford.

  26. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    I must say, I’m quite surprised to see that most people thought of today as a gutless performance. Maybe I am wrong here, because I’m in the minority, but I didn’t think today was so bad.

    I mean, sure we didn’t create much of anything, and our midfield didn’t click, but that has been an issue for a while now. And when you go behind in the early stages, from a mistake from your captain, scored by your ex-captain who said he was too good to be your teammate, it will have an effect on your belief. I thought we did well to try and keep our shape in the first half, and not concede more. Especially because our attack was so disjointed.

    The second half started with our captain again handing momentum to the former captain through another error. Lucky that Valencia(?) missed. But our attack looked better, and slowly we did impose ourselves on their defense. They also started to misplace passes in midfield. I thought we looked good to get back into it. But the second goal, and the manner that we conceded it, killed our belief. Wilshere then got red carded (probably in frustration) and the game was done. We still tried to get something flowing, but it wasn’t happening. We eventually scored a consolation, but of course, it wasn’t even that.

    Still, though it wasn’t a very good performance, I didn’t think it was gutless. We just lacked enough quality to make a difference when it mattered. We couldn’t keep them out when it mattered, and we just didn’t manage to score (which has been an increasing worry) I still like this team, and I think if we build on it, we’ll potentially have a great side. Let’s not forget, this is essentially a whole new team. The result and the manner it came about might look all too familiar to us, but hopefully the reaction will be different this time around. Not just from the team, but also the club.

    1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      You’re a true glass half-full guy, Shard. ;)

      While it’s true that this is a relatively new team, they still managed to turn in the same insipid, testicle-deprived performance that Arsenal do just about every year.

      We actually performed the unusual feat of allowing ManU to constantly counter-attack, without actually attacking ourselves.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        You’re right. I just don’t think that makes it a gutless performance. Just a poor one. And to be fair, these issues didn’t just show up at ManU. We’ve been struggling with that all season (Southampton possibly excepted)

        I guess I wasn’t surprised, and thought we tried all we could. That it was nowhere near good enough is worrying. But I think Arsenal, since I’ve been following them, have always been a team of extremes. When we’re good, we’re very good, and when it doesn’t work, we’re terrible. That’s probably the missing Plan B that everyone keeps talking about. Arsenal have also always been accused of not creating enough chances, or not shooting enough. That was the case even with the invincible era. The nature of our game is such that we tend to get in good areas but not take the chance. Instead look for the ‘perfect pass’. I think the other teams have improved over the last decade and hence that doesn’t work anymore.

        At the moment, we aren’t playing well, and much needed additions to the squad can only arrive in January at the earliest. Till then, I’d be happy with us scraping wins and staying within distance of the top 4. Losing at ManU is hardly disastrous. Far better Arsenal teams have lost there.

      2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

        I still think it was gutless. For a while, in the second half, there were moments where it actually seemed like we wanted to win. But that was the exception rather than the rule.
        What bugs me is that the times we look like threatening a goal is when we start firing in crosses and getting people in the box… yet we only decide this is worth doing when the game is already out of reach. We have a man mountain playing up front for us but it is out of the question to fire long balls at him for a header or knock-down. We don’t have to make that our plan A, but when our current plan A is so ineffectual, we’ve got absolutely nothing else in the locker, which is a failure of both coach and players. Note the ways Man U created their chances: quick passing, crosses, diagonal balls, through balls, lofted passes over the defensive line. They are harder to stop because they try different things, whereas we are strangely brain dead.

        It’s as if our team thinks that if Mertesacker and Vermaelen pass it between each other enough, we will eventually be awarded an honorary goal.

  27. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

    Was the second half as woeful as the first? We were down-right boring in the first 45. Most common passes had to be between the back-five. No drive or really any idea what or how to attack.

    I’m caring less and less for this team, at least we used to play interesting stuff when we used to lose. These days, not only do we lose, but we look average in the process.

    Maybe we are only average now. Possibly? Probably.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

      I don’t know. Even considering the injured players, the squad we put out there had more than its fair share of above average players. Take your average mid-table team, Cazorla, Arteta, Wilshere, Sagna, Mert would walk into the starting lineup without any hesitation and probably be the best player on the team. TV5 has played better, Podolski is an 18 goal scorer from a tough league, Giroud is last years top scorer from Ligue 1, and even Ramsey played in the right position would arguably start for a mid table team based on potential and/or past performance. I think off the bench, Theo, Kozzer and even Arshavin could be lynch pins on a mid-table team. We lack a true superstar but I think it’s fair to say that are players are above average. Collectively right now, they’re definitely underperforming .

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