That was painful, disappointing and utterly embarrassing result. It was an abject a display from an Arsenal side that I’d ever seen. That was the heaviest defeat in Arsene Wenger’s reign and shows the gap that we have compared to one of our major rival for domestic glory.
What makes it worse is that while we were severely weakened and had to play most of our second string players and even some of the third string ones, this wasn’t exactly United’s strongest first eleven either. Second string ones includes Carl Jenkinson, Johan Djourou, Armand Traore, Tomas Rosicky and even Andrey Arshavin to an extent. Third string ones were Francis Coquelin and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. For United, they had Chris Smalling at right back, Phil Jones, Johnny Evans, Tom Cleverly and Danny Wellbeck. Maybe there’s a couple more in the starting line-up for United who might not have played if others were available.
The point I’m trying to make is that we’ve gone from having the best second eleven side in the league to having a bad second eleven side. The suspension did us no favour. Alex Song plays a very critical role for us and his absence was sorely missed no today’s evidence.
Was Wenger to blame for everything? No, I can’t say that. Yes, the team sheet showed how lacking we are in terms of squad depth. But the manager has got to choose a team and that he did. Would you say that the team that played today any worse than a Swansea, West Brom or even Queens Park Rangers? At worst, I would say we’re probably equal to them.
Taking that into account, would those teams have lost by this scoreline? I’m going with a big no for this one. They might have lost by 3 or 4 goals. The difference was, those players would have put in more of a shift to prevent it from being a massacre on the pitch.
As for our players, heads dropped when the third goal went in. When we crucially missed a chance to pull another goal back early in the second half and conceded a couple minutes later, there were no rallying cries from anyone. There were no one keeping the team in check and ensuring that they keep fighting for every second ball. It a nutshell, what we saw in the second half was a very defeatist attitude.
United scored some crackers to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Surely the players can see that we can do close to nothing on the second and third goal. I only question why they let those affect them and create a sort of inferiority complex. I want to see our team giving every last drop of the effort as long as the game is not finished yet. Sadly, that was non existent. It was painful to see how the team seemed to accept that United were running rings around us and none of the “f*ck this, I’m not going to lie down and be run over with” attitude.
Yet, it could’ve been an entirely different outcome had we taken the chance that was presented to us. It was only 1-0 when we were awarded a penalty. The irony of Howard Webb officiating this match and giving us a spotkick is not lost on me. Robin Van Persie stepped up but failed to convert. David De Gea producing his first game changing save for the home side. Had we pulled the score level, the team would’ve been given a massive boost and it could all played out differently.
The shoddy defending in the second half was what produced the big scoreline. We were is total disarray when defending. There were plenty of times when I saw some lackadaisical attitude regarding closing down and making a challenge. That is saying something, considering I missed a large part of the second half due to bad weather causing my satellite to stop working. It was schoolboy defending and it cost us dearly.
I do feel for those younger ones in the squad. Coquelin had a fantastic début match in an Arsenal shirt but he could be wondering what he has got himself into. Making his first start at a place like Old Trafford cannot be easy. Especially with the mood that the home side seemed to be in. Yet, he played with conviction and tried to do what was required of him. He must feel let down by what he saw around him.
If any further prove is needed on what we need to do going forward from here, I think we’ve found it. No doubt, if everyone is fit and not suspended, we’ve got a great squad. But that doesn’t win you trophies, especially not in a long season where no one can play every single game and be at the top of his game.
We need bodies and we need them quick. There’s only another 3 more days until the end of the transfer window. Whoever is being entrusted to do the negotiations will have to really step into it. The team needs help and they must realise that. If it’s a player that the management has spotted and decided was good enough for us, let’s do all we can to get him. Even if we need to pay slightly over what the player is actually worth.
It’s only the third game of the season, giving up now would be crazy. There’s a chance to fix this and I’m hoping it does get fixed. Don’t forget that Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Ray Parlour and David Seaman was in the side that got thrashed 6-1 in the same stadium 10 years ago. They went on to win trophies and do great things for Arsenal. No reason why the same can’t happen with a little bit of help.