A different season but it feels like we’ve been here before. The scoreline this time around was more flattering than we deserved. It’s not the defeat that bothers me or us. It’s the manner which we went about the game. To me, it felt like a show of acceptance. That we are second best to the home side and this performance is an acknowledgement of that fact.
Never mind the fact that he scored the opening goal. A gift presented by the current captain to the former captain. It was careless and it was maddening how we conspired to give Manchester United the lead within 3 minutes. As if the task that lay before us yesterday wasn’t tough enough, we decided to give ourselves additional challenges. United were bent on exploiting our weakness at left back and the poor clearance from Thomas Vermaelen came from a cross down that flank.
Andre Santos was the weak link and it only took them a couple of minutes to profit from it.
More lackadaisical marking made the tie even further away as Patrice Evra managed to get himself between our big tall (comparatively speaking) defenders and headed the ball past Vito Mannone in the second half. No markers, no organisation. Steve Bould received a lot of praise for our good defensive work in the early part of the season, can we start putting the blame on him for the shambles in the last couple of games? There were other chances for United to increase their lead but credit to Mannone for ensuring that we did not take a numerical beating.
Santi Cazorla got a late goal but it was nothing more than a consolation for us. A consolation which I’m not that we even deserved to get. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic goal from the Spaniard after he finally managed to wriggle his way inside the box. Even Cazorla himself didn’t celebrate the goal, none of the Arsenal players did. Deep down, they know that the goal meant nothing. Not even a scant consolation on what have been an abject performance by us. The travelling Arsenal fans once again displayed great voice and kept singing for the last 10 – 15 minutes of the game. Only them deserved any applauds and I’m not even sure how many of our players went over to do that. Then I found the video below. Disappointing.
We were never in the game at all. Barring the first 5 or 10 minutes of the second half when we seem to play with more purpose and intent, it was as bland a performance as we will ever see from an Arsenal side. There were no fight, no real desire, no pushing of matters and no chasing of the game even when we went behind. I want someone to tell me that it did not mean that we gave up on the game just after 3 minutes of the game have been played, because it sure looked that way for me.
You take a team who, to the man, is a much weaker team that us. Teams like That team would have put in more of a fight in the game yesterday. It’s like we are only limited to walking while the home team is permitted to run. There was no spirit, no leadership to lift or rally the troops. No one grab any player by the scruff of the neck and said – “hey, we’re still in this. Get your head out of the ground and start playing”. That we only won 37% of our challenges tells the entire story, we simply let United run all over us.
Tactics? What about tactics? Aaron Ramsey played the on the right side which was meant to give up extra men in the middle so that we could take control of the midfield. That, never happened. Mikel Arteta cuts a lone figure trying to screen our defence and be our creative figure all at the same time. Jack Wilshere hardly got into the game. Too much put on the shoulders of that young boy but we haven’t exactly got any choice on this matter. Ferguson took out Tom Cleverly before he was red carded but Arsene Wenger was unable to do the same with Wilshere, simply because we needed him. Can’t argue with the either of the yellow card or in fact, with most of Mike Dean’s decisions.
Lukas Podolski was as anonymous as one could possibly be. The German has gone off the boil for some time now and it’s worrying. His early season form seemed to have disappeared and it is not looking like it could be found any time soon. I have my reservations about him before the season starts but was happy to be proved wrong early on but it looks like I’m might be right. Though, I sincerely wish I’m not and never will be, on this matter at least. Andrey Arshavin came in for Podolski and even though there was only 9 minutes left of the normal time, it felt like Arshavin decided that he will only do something if the ball is played to him. Otherwise, he was happy to let United players go with tracking them. Something which Santos did all night.
I don’t know how we can pick ourselves up after this but we have to. Only 9 games of the Premier League have been played and there’s still so much ahead of us. Is there a bright side to all of these? It can’t get much worse, can it? Disappointed.