Manchester United 1 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

What a boring game of football.

Manchester United came with a functional defensive approach. Not a surprise there at all, it’s something that’s worked for them in the past and did so again. So one might safely say their’s was an intelligent result oriented approach.

Arsenal clearly made some tactical changes but didn’t get the balance right. I was particularly disappointed with the effort after conceding the goal. The nervousness displayed by the team at the start of the game and the lack of composure towards the end were also disappointing.

As expected Howard Webb was quite lenient and I thought Arsenal took good advantage of this to break the play down. On that note the manager and the coaching staff deserve some credit for learning a lesson. In the past we have suffered because of this far too often so it’s good to see we can also use it to our advantage.

Before the game I was also talking about the need for the midfield to stay close to the defence. For bulk of the first half Arsenal achieved that and minimized the opportunities for the home side. Unfortunately after this adjustment the team didn’t have any real attacking options.

I thought this was down to the weakness of Arsenal’s collective defensive system in which the midfielders chase the ball instead of getting into the right positions and making interceptions. As a result almost each time Arsenal won the ball back there was hardly any outlet for bringing the ball out. This was compounded by the fact that Nasri was double-teamed throughout the game and Arshavin had a stinker.

Manchester United for their part seemed too keen to try the ball over the top. One such ball almost yielded dividends when Nani won a header on the wing and Fletcher ran in behind on the right. No Arsenal midfielder tracked his run – this is a huge problem with Arsenal’s defending but I’ll deal with it later in the week. The Scot put in a lame cross so Squillaci couldn’t get any power on his clearance. It fell to the feet of an onrushing Nani who fired it inches wide of the far post.

I don’t really recall any other serious talking points at the other end in the first half except the goal. It was important to go into halftime without conceding the lead but Arsenal failed to achieve that.

Nani got the ball wide on the right and was able to run at Clichy. His attempted shot was blocked by the Frenchman and the ball flew towards Park in the box. The Korean came up with a fantastic, if somewhat fortunate, finish with an intelligent header from a very awkward angle. Once again it was a midfielder’s run that was not tracked. Why was no one marking him when Arsenal had Song and Koscielny in the vicinity? I haven’t seen the replays so I don’t want to put the blame on someone right now.

One point that I must mention is that this goal was not due to a mistake by Clichy. Steve Mcmanaman (commentating on ESPN) was completely wrong when he said Clichy should have closed Nani down sooner. The reason for this is that there was absolutely no cover behind the French fullback. If he went for a tackle and Nani got past him, something the winger is more than capable of as he has shown all season, the Portuguese would have been in on goal. Wilshere and Arshavin offered no support to Clichy all day long despite knowing that Nani is a major threat. We just have to look at the way Nasri was marked to realize how poor Arsenal were in this regard.

It was disappointing to see Arsenal come out in the second half with the same line-up. I was hoping Walcott will come on for Arshavin so that Rosicky can go to the left and Nasri into the centre. That way we would have better cover on the left, Nasri would have had more space to work his magic as he was being crowded out on the wing, and we would have some genuine pace on the right.

United dropped deep and were comfortable in holding on to the lead. Arsenal did see a lot of the ball in the opposition half but didn’t create anything more than half chances.

The hosts tried to create opportunities on the break but I thought the defenders dealt with most of it pretty well.

The substitutions just after the hour mark were quite disappointing. Arshavin wasn’t taken off and a clearly off pace Fabregas was introduced. Van Persie had to come on there can’t be much debate there. Wilshere and Rosicky were taken off. I thought this affected the balance of the team even more and left the defence exposed without really adding anything to the attack.

These are the kind of decisions when I get really exasperated by Wenger and that’s putting it mildly. Yes, Arshavin and Cesc can create something out of nothing and they have something special about them. But that alone is not enough to put them on the field when we are struggling to get any kind of a flow going and the team shape isn’t working.

Arshavin did finally go off with 15 minutes to go and Walcott came on but Arsenal never really created an opportunity for Theo to run at the defence or get in behind.

Just before that substitution Howard Webb gifted the hosts with a penalty when Clichy slipped and fell to the ground and the Nani kicked the ball on to his hand. I guess those are the kind of decisions United get at home while Arsenal hardly ever get in their favour at home or away and in either box. Rooney blasted it over the top and justice was done.

I was very disappointed with the fact that Arsenal didn’t produce better in the final fifteen minutes. The players were moving without real purpose, there were no intelligent runs in attacking areas, no decisive passes, no co-ordination or systematic approach.

Van Persie had to drop deep far too often when he should have been receiving the ball around the penalty area. Fabregas gave the ball away cheaply and lacked urgency. Walcott didn’t have much time to make an impact but he looked lively.

Arsenal have some basic systemic problems and I was happy to see some visible effort towards improvement but it was not good enough.

One more point that I want to touch upon is the Kung-Fu kick by Ferdinand on Sagna. There was absolutely no need for Ferdinand to keep his leg stretched forward with his studs towards his opponent. It was the only really filthy moment in the game.

Individual Performances

Szczesny: looked a bit nervy at the start but can’t say he made any mistakes. Caught everything that had to be caught. His positioning for the goal might have been better but it’s difficult to blame the keeper for such a goal. An excellent save late in the game when Rooney tried to chip him. Not yet ready for the starting role but a good experience for the youngster no doubt.

Sagna: was harried and hounded by Park all day long. Did a decent job of defending the right side but couldn’t offer anything going forward.

Squillaci: I thought he had a good game. Read most situations well and kept his composure. Was at fault when Rooney got in behind late on as he stepped up a fraction late.

Koscielny: Pretty much like Squillaci. Made some vital interceptions. Showed excellent composure even at the end. His distribution was fairly good as well. Might have been partially at fault for the goal I’ll have to see that again.

Clichy: Excellent. Did a great job on Nani and made many important tackles. Didn’t have much support but rarely made a mistake despite doing the work of two people in defence. Could have done more while going forward.

Overall it’s very difficult to blame the back five. United didn’t succeed much with their long balls over the top. They got a few half chances and took one. Arsenal couldn’t do the same at the other end.

Song: worked really hard but most of it was donkey work. There was no intelligence or composure to his game. made a mess after getting into good positions in the final third and didn’t do a good job of collecting and spreading the ball in the final half hour.

Rosicky: Very disappointing. Should have done more defensively and offensively. Didn’t get into the right positions and rarely showed initiative in attack.

Wilshere: gave the ball away too often, didn’t support Clichy well enough, his inexperience was exposed.

As I mentioned in the preview, this midfield was too weak but we didn’t have many options. Looking back at the game it was rather easy for United and the midfield was largely to blame.

Nasri: was double-teamed all through game. Tried hard and but never got enough support. Should have swapped positions with Arshavin and Rosicky in the first half.

Chamakh: hard work but no real attacking threat. Part of that was due to the lack of supply and support.

Arshavin: not good enough. Hardly any contribution in attack or defence. United were far too intelligent and disciplined for the Russian to make an impact.

The attackers should have done better in the second half but lacked composure and co-ordination. Most of the passing and movement was easy to read.

Subs: RvP never got the ball in the right areas. Cesc should never have been risked. Theo needed more time and should have come on at half time.


69 Responses to Manchester United 1 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. guy says:

    id love to know what makes u say szczsney isnt ready for the starting role. i think he did fantastic.

  2. Tim says:

    In many ways this was a more disciplined performance than on many of our “big” games in recent times, but our extra defensive solidity came at a price – we created hardly anything. For me, though, we still gave away far too much cheap possession in our defensive third – we were very lucky this went unpunished – too many players had off days and we just seemed to lack collective belief when our decent start to the second half petered out.

    I’m sure people will focus on formations and tactics and go on about Wenger being outfoxed by Fergie again, but the biggest difference between the two sides is still that United KNOW they can find a way to win tight games against the big sides – we only THINK we can, and even that’s far from convincing.

  3. Gunner2 says:

    The pitch was doctored ….. Arsenal could not play their usual game .Both sides suffered due to the turf being so heavy under foot. The Nani and Rooney misses are just two of many examples .The pitch suited the more physical than technical. It spoilt the whole game…..BORING!!!!

  4. Boop says:

    Great write up Desi. Well articulated on many points.

  5. santori says:

    What’s really dissapointing is that there wasn’t that much in the game. Yes they got the goal and were more threatening but we defended relatively well (apart from the goal and a couple of odd moments) YET we were unable to offer any real threat up front.

    Principaly I think :

    1) We should have started with RVP (in a 4-4-1-1). We needed the extra teeth up front in support of Chamakh who was up against Ferdinand and Vidic.

    2) Nasri should have started out wide left. It would have added more width to our (yet again) compressed play which would correspondingly open up AA’s wing and relief some pressure off of Sagna. As it was, we seemed crowded and muddled in the middle.

    3)We did not pass the ball quick enough. We were far too ponderous with the build up. Partially, this was because of how tightly packed we were (and hence United) and also due to a lack of off ball movement (Systemic issue Desi?)

    Dissapointing but well, we’re still in it in second so we should try to pick up the pieces quickly.

    BTW, any ideas why Szcezny was starting today? Didn’t do too badly (Thought he could have done better with the goal) but it seem an odd occasion to have him introduced.

    • desigunner says:

      Fabianski picked up an injury and didn’t pass a late fitness test. Not sure how long he’ll be out.

    • desigunner says:

      About your point 3 .. I agree we were far too ponderous … In the build and even at critical moments in the final third.

      While bringing the ball out we were affected by the shape of the team as many players were pulled back and there weren’t many avenues for attack.

      In the final third tt was uncharacteristic. Perhaps a mental block of some sort. Not really sure.

  6. JP says:

    They looked more determined for the fight. I thought we could have Nasri in the middle more. He is on form and we needed him to have as many touches as possible. On to the next one !!!!

  7. HexyDre says:

    Disappointing result (obviously) but I think the players were up for the physical game and did well in that aspect…to the detriment of intelligent play.
    We need to do something about our attacking options when teams play deep and wait for the counter like Mantd did today and Chelsea (in our last game at Stamford bridge).

    I can’t see much positives to take from the game, I think the Pole was convincing though.

  8. GoonerBoy10 says:

    Clichy Excellent?????

    Have you lost your mind? Messi this weekend was EXCELLENT, Sahin for Dortmund was EXCELLENT, Lisandro Lopez was EXCELLENT, Yaya Toure was EXCELLENT.

    Clichy Excellent??? Oh my lord!

    • desigunner says:

      You want to compare a defender with Messi?

      If you want to make a case you need to give examples of defenders who have handled good attacking players on their own. Ashley Cole doesn’t do it, he always has a midfielder to support him when against a top winger. As I mentioned, even in this game we could see Evra was rarely left alone with Nasri.

      Clichy was excellent in this game given the fact that he was virtually doing the job of two players.

  9. GoonerBoy10 says:

    To qualify Clichy, Ashley Cole does a job on anyone, from Beckham, to Cristiano Ronaldo to Messi, he is excellent against them.

    Clichy couldn’t contain Nani,who is not in the class of the players above.

  10. Duttlenheim says:

    We played scared which was evident in the lack of speed to our game offensively

  11. Duttlenheim says:

    Btw we don’t necessarily have to beat united and Chelsea if we beat everyone else. Yes it’s the backdoor way to the title but I’ll take what I can get at this point

    • desigunner says:

      That’s true but our home form isn’t good enough right now and will need to improve dramatically if that approach is to work.

  12. dev says:

    now it seems we lost because of the pitch….certain half brained idiot fans along with that overpaid cunt wanker should just be culled

  13. Mihir Saudagar says:


    That is exactly what will happen this year.

  14. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Man Utd Fan, EpiKnightz. EpiKnightz said: DesiGunner: Manchester United 1 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis: What a boring game… #Arsenal […]

  15. cjuillet says:

    biggest problem for us watching here -seemed no leaders on the park fr us-both Rosicky then Fabregas were very under par -we really need a good strong captain. Sagna worked really hard though all game. Ref was as usual Ferdinand should have red carded -we seemed to get too many yellows for very soft reasons and yet they didn’t. Anyway by the end it was us against 10men defending and too many of our players just seemed not in full form for some reason.

  16. Damnit says:

    I think rosicky should take the wilshere role agaisnt the more physical teams. He has the energy to run around and his range of passing is slightly better than our lil wilshere right now.

  17. DFO says:

    I completely agree about our ponderous receive-then-pass turnaround time. United was full of quick 1-2’s and we had… zero. We didn’t do our famous wingback/winger overlapping at all. We rarely played people through with any sense of urgency. And when we did try to move quickly it was with nerves too taught and the ball always just out of control.

    Song is so inefficient lately, he is just a foul generator.

    Kos looked nervous and I seem to recall he got turned around a few more times than I felt comfortable with. Big ups to Clichy and Sagna.

    I believe playing Cesc actually sunk the game for us, it murdered any momentum we had as he floundered.

  18. Robespierre says:

    “Squillaci: I thought he had a good game.. Clichy: Excellent. Did a great job on Nani..” , ‘

    I guess you have to continue your lost case for the defense at the cost of evident truth, what a joke;
    Squill is a Silvestre replacement never intended to be anything else. Clich will never be at the level of Cole, never,neither D nor O; he gets away with some mistakes but always gets caught in a game ( yes, and he not helped, right, but Sagna is? our only accomplished Defender by a mile)

    This was overall a witless disjointed performance, without heart against a tough but mediocre United team. Besides an out of sorts looney rooney, (no Berbatov, tevez, Cr7, or even a little pea) just one good Nani to handle. and THAT is why we conceded only one.
    I think many are relieved by this fact , that there was no humiliation in the score, though I believe our prestige as a team with character and style suffered mightily. We are mediocres and that hurts even more, last year we were naive unlucky whatever but we showed up.

    The Arse played right off like they were Barca– hesitant, timid, suddenly unable to string 3 passes,find the free man, create simple passing options, afraid to play forward,dithering on the ball endlessly, unnecessary dribbles to close gaps like idi@ts etc etc. no speed above all no speed! in this team , in passing in running in attacking in movement on and off the ball. That Chesny the rookie had the strongest mentality in this team is commendable (and promising) as it is sad;

    Arsene played for a draw this time let there be no question about that, he almost managed that.

    But Chamakh is not the quality for Arsenal, that was the difference. he gives 200% till he is in front of goal then he freezes and lacks guile, will, belief
    Arsh is in decline no doubt about that. he can still summon good half hour, he was wasted in the 2nd half.
    The same goes for the Chech captain, it saddens to see such a talented player passed it
    Nasri cannot do the Fab job, he is virtuoso not a playmaker and without Fab to organize control tempo and spray passes this team is lost and rudderless in a serious game.
    Song again showed he is not ready for the big time DM role.. oh I forgot Songinho is for better things.
    Poor Wilshire, feisty and brave, did not play bad,a whole future ahead but now to demand from this kid control of the middle of the pitch against top echelon teams, is a travesty.

    Does anyone here remembers the great games of 7,8 10 years ago? we are in the world of shadows now and This is an damn awful…

    • desigunner says:

      So in order to criticize some players this is a “mediocre United team” but to defend Wilshere they become “top echelon team”? How convenient. I’ll ignore the rest of this silly rant as one borne out of frustration because from what I recall Arsenal lost 6-1 at Old Trafford 10 years ago!

      • Robespierre says:

        desigunner says:
        December 12, 2010 at 5:22 am
        “Thank you[all] for the fantastic feedback. I do hope we continue to develop a thoughtful, respectful, and passionate discussion platform here so that we can criticize without it being a sin and we can support without being called stupid.”

        no comment required

      • Maximilian G. says:

        the year 2000…well ,we all forgot about that thrashing.. but who will ever forget this, one of the greatest Arsenal goals ever, of Henry in Highbury earlier that season…

        whereas The game today on the other hand is one to forget

        btw, everybody knows that we do not score more than 1 in old Trafford in the best of cases.. your thinking we might put a couple or more past them was a bit of an unwarranted wishfulness

      • desigunner says:

        😀 Nice try to escape but it doesn’t work. ‘Thoughtful’ is the key word there and I should also have added rational I guess. Otherwise it’d just be baseless criticism, wouldn’t it?

        I showed you one very obvious contradiction in what you said and there are many other flaws in your arguments but I don’t have the time to get into all of them so I’ll give just one more.

        “Arsene played for a draw…” what a baseless assumption. Even the great matches that you recall (but I’m not really sure you do) never saw Arsenal score more than 1 at OT, so were we playing for draws in those games as well? Did you see the City – United game? Big games tend to be tight and we should appreciate the effort put into improving the collective defending instead of assuming Arsenal were playing for a draw.

        You have the right to criticize but if you’re arguments are weak should you not be ready to face some criticism?

      • desigunner says:


        That was a phenomenal goal and that’s why we need big players available for the big matches. Without Cesc and RvP in top form it’s difficult to see much magic from the team at such a venue.

  19. Arsenalisto says:

    Some of our players need to mix their game at least a little, many times Sagna was set free on the edge of their box and every time he tried to cross even exactly the same way and to no one, why couldn’t he try to go around Evra or go to the middle and do some overlap with someone..etc. Also the pitch was the number one reason the team never got into the game, very devilish from Fergie just like he’s done in the past when he knew his team are in for a rattling.

  20. Ajinkya says:

    i expected a better performance. manu lucky as usual.
    Nevertheless my favourite moments of the game-
    1. Wilshere slamming evra to the ground. He deserved it.
    2. fletcher or whatever the spelling is, falling down himself and running like a fool after the referee asking for a foul, and was denied even by the great howard webb. Should have been shown a yellow and asked to shut up.
    We made a clear mistake by not keeping a tight grip on nani, how can you forget him? If we had done that, it would have been 0-0. We could not have scored by playing like that, nor do manu have anyone so creative to penetrate and create chances. Desi, you are right, when you say Clichy did the right thing by not closing him down, because nani can cut around players and it would have been a bigger problem had Clichy charged(it happens with me several times when i play). But i saw a photograph of that moment, there were several defenders around but manu players were loosely marked.
    Szczesny did well, no problems with him. Good performance, it was his first start and against a big team.
    Substitutions were not effective as you have already pointed out. i sincerely feel Wenger must contain his stubbornness. Fabregas was not at all in shape. Yet Wenger said,”If he plays it will be my decision, not his”. It only reflects his rigidness, and if you are rigid like a tree, you will fall, and if flexible, you sway with the wind (sorry for that, but i really feel like saying it).
    It may sound like i doubt our ability, but it seems that we get carried away by our performances against small teams, and then go into depression when lined up against a big team, when the tactics don’t work out.
    Nevertheless, i am off now, to face manu fans who will fire at me things like ‘park ji-sung \m/’ and ‘you lost even after rooney missed a penalty, which he did because he wanted to give the kids a chance’.
    We now have a big job at hand, proving false the ‘fact’ that if we lose a game, we also lose the next game. We have to capitalize against ‘smaller’ teams now. i will also pray for chelsea so that they give manu a sound beating and end their foolish and lucky unbeaten run.

    • desigunner says:

      Many valid points there. I agree with you it’s important to not lose in pairs and winning against Stoke is of utmost importance. And yes I too hope Chelsea win and break this run. A draw would be better for us in terms of points, and a loss for Chelsea would be good for us before we meet them, but we don’t want United to build momentum at this stage of the season.

  21. Sonu says:

    Well this game for me was won and lost back in the dressing room or wherever it is that the Tactical decisions are made by managers. Sir Alex was just spot on in removing the in-form striker Berbatov and replacing him with the more energetic Park.It is not easy to convince a whiny character like Berba because we all know what a cry baby he can be and especially on the back of a game scoring 5 goals.But there you go, and Arsene having seen Arshavin playing absolutely shit in past few games still plays him for 75 minutes just goes to show the kind of blind-belief he has and it was a tactical blunder.Poor Clichy was left 1 on 1 with Nani and time and again he did exceptionally well.I agree as well that the goal conceded was by no means Clichy’s fault.This game had a Nil-Nil written all over it but we got exposed just one time too many on the left.A lucky break for Utd and 1-0. I somehow find it hard to blame the players on the pitch.It was Arsene who should’ve taken the initiative and made bold decisions at half time.changed the formation and brought on RvP for Arshavin.Rvp is a slow starter and has never been an impact player so it’s hardly wise to just put him on there with barely 20 minutes left.It’s shocking to see in recent games that Arsenal can for long periods(20 minutes to 40 minutes)without having a single shot at goal.I cant really think of the last time that RvP got a shot away.For a team that plays attractive football that’s a real sore point.

    • desigunner says:

      Arshavin was phenomenal against Aston Villa and Fulham so I’m not sure how you say he’s been ‘absolutely shit in past few games’ … it seems to me that’s the point where frustration takes over a rational argument.

      Wenger could have left Arshavin out of the starting eleven but do we know for sure Walcott or someone else would have done better? I agree with the part about substitution because we saw for 45 mins that Arshavin was struggling, after that it was the time for the manager to be decisive.

      RvP has been playing too deep and I share your concern about him not getting into scoring positions, especially given his ability to turn defenders, create space, and a blistering strike.

  22. JohnW says:

    Can Arsenal lose any game genuinely without you people blaming any one? Park scored a good if not fortunate goal, and the other two clear chances that ManU created were as a result of us chasing the game and them hitting us on the counter. A part from that, there was absolutely nothing and we were overall confortable in this game than we have been in many other games. For me what I learned from this game is that we are finally level with ManU in many things.

  23. cin says:

    Wenger told
    “Overall, you have to give credit to United’s defensive quality,”.
    Still he thinks good defense can win the game ????

  24. dw says:

    Did you watch the game or did you watch hi-lights clichy had a poor game,for the goal he made nani run in two the box,djouroue should have started because kosser couldent win nothing in the air agants rooney and il trym koscielny needs two be tested at left back ,because clichy needs a rest.
    Jack w should have never of started he ant ready for that game ,song was playing buy he’s self ,diaby would have bdeen perfect yesterday , nazri should have played more central ,and i dont no why roskiy got the call before vp,

  25. keith says:

    Is it just me or does anyone think wenger has taken Arsenal as far as he can? time for a new manager fresh ideas?

  26. dw says:

    With out wenger arsenal would be a fulham

  27. kloney says:

    What a huge disappointment!How can we be the best if we can’t beat the best?AW should base his subs on tactics and not sentiments. Please someone tell our players to step up this season and capitalize on the poor result oriented play of the big teams. I know we can win something this season but I’m not really sure about the hunger for it,if any?

  28. Gennie says:


    Thank you for the feedback. I like the analysis as usual. I did not watch the game, so I cannot comment. However, a lot of the comments here today are rubbish, borne of frustration, and bear no relevancy to your analysis and I believe to the match. I also believe that a lot of fans do not understand football as a tactical game and one where team work is paramount in achieving results. Take people who constantly attack Clichy, most times they do not understand that he needs help from others on the left side which is always lacking. Which means Clichy (like you said in your analysis and have said many times) contends with a lot more than most left backs in the premier league do. Sometimes I feel Clichy criticism smacks of xenophobia / anti-french something many (particularly the common football fan) English / British cannot disassociate from. Hence the love for everything english, just see how people constantly praise Jack Wilshere / Walcot irrespective of performance. There is no question the boy has talent and will definitely become a great if all goes well. But there is no point in praising someone who did not perform well.

    • desigunner says:

      I do find it strange that the people who are so critical of Clichy can actually shower so much praise on Wilshere even when the youngster’s had a much poorer game. Of course Wilshere deserves slack for his age but there has to be more to this.

      One reason could be the nationality. I have rarely seen English writers criticize Wilshere and since majority writing about the game are English there are numerous opinions on the net in favour of the youngster. The opposite goes for Clichy. After that it’s just a convenient, lazy argument for many to follow what others are saying.

      I’m not saying Wilshere should be criticized just remarking on the clear bias visible on the net and in the media.

  29. MEDITATION says:

    Saying clichy played excellent is absolutely ridiculous. A defender is supposed to defend firstly. To be in control of the situation you must press the player by acting decisively and getting in there quick and make the tackle ,which is what evra did against walcott or you force the player to go where you want them to go then you tackle or block the pass. Are you telling me clichy did that for the goal. I was saying ten seconds before nani got that cross in to my man u friends to look at him he is giving nani the incentive and we will get punished. Have a look at at clichys reaction to the penalty decision its pathetic. No heart ,no fight. How many times have we seen clichy kick it against someones arse when he is clearing it or against somebody and it puts the defence under pressure. Midfielders get abuse for loosing it in dangerous areas , so your telling me if the last line of defence does it, its ok? Its beyond a joke his form. These are the things that are chipping away at the confidence of the definsive solidarity of the team.
    There is one thing for me that stands out that shows that this team is not a team in the collective sense ,and that is a lot of people whether its comments on blogs or blogs being written or player ratings its always dissected into two sections. Defensive and offensive. There is rarely a sense a sense of a team performance. To many individuals in unspecific positions can bring confusion ,individualism and most importantly imbalance.Rhythm in a team is created through harmony. Thats why arsenal struggle against the big teams because they have harmony. Arsenal are a lot better against sides with broken rhythm . Arsenal are like real madrid in that sense more so than barca. They dont look like brothers looking to take on the world for each other. the celebrations look forced when a goal is scored and rarely look happy for each other and most importantly the club. They just look like personal target men.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m sorry but I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about.

      Have you seen defenders backpedaling during a counter attack? They don’t go to close down the opponent immediately because there is a great deal of space behind them and very little cover. They go backwards to get more compact so that they can have layers of cover.

      In this case there was a great deal of space around and behind Clichy. If he’d gone tight earlier Nani could easily have kicked the ball around him and run in behind. Clichy’s momentum would have been one way and Nani would have a clean run towards the goal.

      It seems to me you’re just joining the witch-hunt against Clichy which is very similar to the one we had against our Keepers. Very surprising considering you talk about harmony but fail to see how Clichy has been lacking support.

  30. Ajinkya says:

    And I almost forgot. Desi, do you think there was any problem with the playing surface?

    • desigunner says:

      Undoubtedly. Too many players were slipping and the ball wasn’t moving smoothly on the ground. Could be one reason why United were so keen to use the long ball over the top – they might have planned it knowing they could lose the battle on the floor.

  31. Ajinkya says:

    Sorry to post so many comments but, from what I saw at ‘Untold Arsenal’, Eboue was directly sent off for a challenge that was exactly the same as ferdinand’s challenge on Sagna.
    webb after all.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m not sure Webb saw it. Then again if he let Fletcher get away with that charge why should we think he’d act against Ferdinand.

  32. Ajinkya says:

    Nevertheless, we must not burn away time by crying over spilled milk.

  33. rohit says:

    Good post man….i agree with you that when midfield stays close to defense we could have defended better.
    But we have to realize that in doing so the potency of our counter attack drastically reduces without a great(read top level arsenal worthy :)) creative midfielder.we dont have anybody in that mould other that cesc.i really try to like rosicky….but he has dropped a lot on form and vision since his initial years.playin nasri in the middle wouldnt help either simply because he is an awesome off the ball mover but not a player who could produce a defense splitter(never seen him do that).I believe a proper midfield should be box to box always….its about winning the ball in your half and run with it towards the other end….if you guys watched y.toure this weekend he did exactly that throughout the game…..we really miss some one like him(if not him!)in our team….stop gap remedy would be to play arshavin through the middle as we see him do in games when he swaps places…..he produces amazing through balls…i consider him closest to cesc in our team(probably the reason wenger did not take him off)….but in doin so our other midfielders should be really discipined…. because we know our russian isnt great at tracking back…..but im a nobody and people who can change should do something abt it….cheers…lookin forward to the next game…..In Arsene i trust(although trusts waning slowly…:) )

    • desigunner says:

      That’s true if we defend better it will have an impact on the attack. We have to find the right balance.

      Nasri was excellent in the central role all through preseason. In fact according to Arsene his off the ball running was a weakness that they’ve been working on.

      Yaya Toure does some amazing runs but he also seems very lazy and often doens’t do much in a game. How many times has he produced something in all the games so far? That’s the problem sometimes, we tend to see one or two good moments from some other player and feel they do it game after game, which doesn’t happen.

      • rohit says:

        im jus sayin that we need a player like y.toure…..nasri playin in the middle like he did in fra vs eng friendly was not very effective enough…come on how many excellent passes did he produce….now imagine him playin the valbuena role….he definitely would have been better…..both his ‘wonder goals’ against fulham was due to his wonderful off the ball movement…..
        i dont know abt wenger’s thoughts on nasri….but how many times have we scratched our heads in disbelief when he says something good abt the players….or for that matter when he gets on with substitutions in a he did in this one….

      • desigunner says:

        Last season Nasri was not that effective on the wings. His numbers were nowhere close to what he has this season. To me that shows Arsene and the coaching staff have helped him improve his off the ball movement.

        I feel most of our players can adapt to different roles but it always takes time. Constant changing and injuries don’t help at all. Not judging too soon seems like a prudent approach.

  34. AP says:

    Not sure why the first 30 minutes or so had everyone slipping and falling all over, something looked real shady.
    I thought Clichy was quite good, managed to tackle on many occasions when he was left 1×1 near the box.
    Had a feeling Szczesny looked like standing a couple of steps higher than where we generally see Fabianski positioned. There were instances where you felt he should’ve been a step or two deeper, including the goal.
    Not a point for this match alone, but I hate the way Arsenal take their throw-ins. Nobody goes up or moves around to take it, makes it look as if they have left the guy throwing in alone. Any team pressing on throw-ins easily wins the ball back.

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah even I was wondering why the players were slipping, Arsenal players more so than the United ones.

      I was not completely convinced by Szczesny’s positioning but hopefully that will improve with time and experience. In his early games I’ve not doubt he will make some mistakes.

      Agree with your observation about throw-in’s but later in the game we won the ball quite often when United had a throw in in their half.

  35. Claver says:


    Yesterday I said that Wilshere was not ready for these games, so it proved. VP, if it were possible, should have started in place of Chamakh.

    Clichy lacks confidence. I don’t why. He has everything else, intelligence, pace and endurance. This is the only difference between him and Ashley Cole. In fact, if Clichy had that bit more confidence to say no ball is getting past me, he’d be better.

    Having seen Wenger’s reaction at the Press Conference, I am utterly confident Arsenal will win something this season, only he needs to pass on his confidence to our players.

    Yes, Man Utd won. But they also sent out a message to say we are afraid of Arsenal. We changed the pitch, we sat deep and nicked one. For me, that is not the behaviour of Champions.

    • desigunner says:

      You’re right about Wilshere no doubt but I’m not convinced Denilson is any better, especially after his recent performances. Beyond that with Diaby and Cesc injured we didn’t have many choices.

      I think Fergie has more respect for Arsenal than many Gooners which is a real shame. Yet to see the press conference so can’t comment on the confidence but I agree the team has a mental block of some kind. Whether it’s confidence or something else I don’t know. Last season I did discuss the use of a sport psychologist and still think it could have a positive impact.

  36. james says:

    Back to our old failings, will this ever change?
    Kudos to Howard Van Webb for failing to give a single yellow card against Man U players yesterday and us- 5 cards.
    Don’t know if there’s anything to say that hasn’t been said before: Theo should have come in sooner inside the 2nd half- Arshavin just frustrates time and time again; I don’t think he’ll ever be a great player unless a team is built around him and he’s allowed to stay upfront- the wing in a 4-3-3 cum 4-5-1 just doesn’t fit him in a defensive suited game and sadly, Arsene is pretty naive tactically just like Cesc said- in the Spanish squad Del Bosque prepares the team to understand and neutralize their opponents’ tendencies, at Arsenal, the players are told to ‘express themselves’ and do not come in with any tactic for nullifying the opponent.
    Even Pep with his ridiculously talented team sometime shifts between using/not using Keita in the midfield depending on who the opponent is and how much tracking back/physical power is needed, he also chooses between the more attacking Maxwell and the stronger Abidal depending on the qualities of the opponent.
    Wenger, quite simply, does not do this again.
    I remember the Edu, Parlour, Wiltord days; one thing that this team seems to be completely unable to replicate is the POWER; let’s be honest, we’re a bunch of wimps. Other than Cesc, Sagna, Song (when he’s not Kakaesuqe), Chamakh and sometimes Nasri and Wilshere, which players have a bite to their game that can nullify much stronger opponents. Its disgraceful that the same thing happens time and time again and Wenger chooses to come up with the pitch excuse- if you don’t have anything smart to say Sir, then shut the heck up.
    Let’s hope the luck of the ball/referees falls to us against Chelsea and Citeh, I really think the only way we can win those games is if we score 1st (and I’m not even certain of that).

  37. Champion says:

    Arsharvin needs to be dropped for a while – not given a rest, the difference should be made clear to him. As it doesn’t seem like he is really trying to win a new contract with us in the summer with the kind of performances he has been putting in recently. These are big important games and he just doesn’t turn up.

    So much for having older experienced players in the pitch! Or maybe defending and trying to win the ball back is something he thinks is best left for others to do.

    • JP says:

      I agree. Arsharvin needs to play much better. He gets alot of assists at times but when the going gets rough he is nowhere to be seen. He does not defend and if he is not doing it offensively SIT HIM DOWN!

  38. Furovich says:

    Personaly I would like to see Song go back to playing a traditional holding midfield role. I don’t see much point in him getting forward when his strengths are better suited to defending and ball winning. This would also allow other midfielders with better attacking qualities to spend more time up the pitch.

    I also hope Wenger gives Nasri the sort of role Fabregas had last season. Obvioulsy Fabregas has had a stop start season and it could take him a bit of time to get back to his best and the way Nasri is playing I would love to see him in the middle. Not only does he pose such a great goal scoring threat but I think he would also help Arsenal with maintaining possession.

    Also, I would like to see Wenger start someone else out on the left other than Arshavin from time to time as despite a few moments of brilliance, he’s really struggled this year both in attack and defence. Maybe RVP or Rosicky.

    The teams got the quality but I definitely think they need o make some changes. Arsenal certainly need a better defensive mentality.

    • desigunner says:

      I’ve often thought why do we let Song go forward and force Wilshere to stay back when young Jack clearly has a lot more to offer in the final third and Song is better in defensive areas.

      The answer seems to be that Song can do the up and down running for 90 minutes so he offers a body in both areas of the pitch. If this role is given to Wilshere he will be caught up-field on some occasions and we will be left with only one defensive midfielder at the back.

      Song’s stamina and energy seem to be the only justification because technically Wilshere is much better and even his vision is more creative.

  39. Oceania says:

    For all those people who thing Clichy did a bad job yesterday, ask yourself how many times did Clichy disposes Nanni of the ball with a toe poke? 2nd, the only time Nanni got past Clichy was when a long-ball came in and Clichy prevented Nanni from delivering the initial cross ball in front of goal. Clichy was right to point-out to Squalici that he needed to follow him because it was obvious that if Nanni got past Clichy, he was going to be delivering a cross ball in dangerous territory. 3rd, because Clichy got a foot on Nanni’s cross that caused the ball to have a lot of back-spin, even Park was surprised when his header looped up into the air into the goal.

    Yesterday I believe was lost on the offense tactical side. Although Bendtner and RvP have not started off a game this season together, this would have been the game to see them paired-up — I’m thinking of last week’s game where RvP placed a perfect side pass to Chamakh and he was totally not expecting it. Or, I believe Arshavin is a player who should only be played say 3 games in a row and thus Vela should have started in his place.

    • desigunner says:

      Interesting point about the backspin on the ball. In both the big games i.e. United and Chelsea we’ve conceded a freakish first goal. But one argument could be that we didn’t create enough on the other side to give our luck a chance!

  40. dw says:

    James your spot on ,aganst teams like stoke , chelsea we need to go for power and hight , players like v.persie diaby bentner
    And koss playing left back koss ant a better left back then clichy ,but it will work in some games. Teams that are less powerful you bring back players like clichy jw theo

  41. […] Manchester United 1 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis What a boring game of football. […]

  42. Claver says:


    Having watched the game in a more calm manner, I can only say that Arsenal have what it takes. They have the guts, the talent…there is no need to panic.

    Losing always hurts, doesn’t matter what team we lose against. But I cannot possibly imagine that the solution is to throw our toys out of the pram.

    We have a brilliant team. Wenger has to make some tactical adjustments when he sees the pitch and the Ref. It’s not just tactics against the opposing team, he has to have tactics that consider all possible factors. The pitch, the opponents, the weather, the crowd, what to eat, the Ref, the balls, dodgy dinners, Ryan Shawcross types, everything.

    I seriously doubt our players are being prepared as comprehensively as this. But to win…we must.

  43. Claver says:

    I forgot to add,

    To be as comprehensive, Arsene needs a team of tactically minded people. These teams will stop at nothing to beat Arsenal, Arsene must realise that.

    Sam Allardyce used to do the kinds of things that Ferguson is doing now. Change the pitch, talk up the ref. Or shall I say, Allardyce is a student of Ferguson?

    Wenger has to be more astute to realise these challenges. He needs a team behind him.

    • desigunner says:

      Very accurate comments. On this blog we’ve talked about the need for a strong number 2 or a tactical/defence coach pretty much along the lines of the team you’ve mentioned.

      It’s not that the team we have is bad but the game is evolving rapidly and we need a little better support for Arsene and the rest of the staff.

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