Manchester United 2 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

I was hoping a draw will be a good result but it was not to be. Both teams had a number of key players missing. Wenger sent a mixture of first team players and second stringers to play in their usual style while Ferguson sent a similar group out with a clear plan. In the end the man with the plan won, once again.

I wasn’t surprised when I saw the Manchester United line-up that had a lot of defensive players and quick runners. Their plan was predictable and quite simple – Don’t concede, keep trying to create something on the counter attacks. Sooner or later there will be a mistake as the defenders have to constantly cover a great deal of space. One goal is enough and might even lead to more.

Now if I’d been a United fan, I’d have been embarrassed by the way my team was playing hopeful long balls from the first minute. But that does not take away a couple of facts. First is that there is no law against such a style and second that the percentages are in favour of this approach more than the one used by Wenger.

What annoys me is that Arsenal continue to flop against these tactics again and again. If the Gunners had just moved the ball all day in this game it would easily have ended 0 – 0. A replay at home would have suited us after United played a midweek Champions League tie. If Arsenal had been patient and maintained their defensive shape chances would have come as the game went on. But such a simple level of tactical understanding seems to be missing from the players but more importantly from the manager.

How can Arsenal get into a situation with 4 United attackers against 4 or 5 Arsenal defenders from a virtually harmless position? Diaby takes a harmless shot. Van der Saar catches it and is able to release a long throw. Low and Behold it become a 4-v-4 situation within a few moments.

Both Djourou and Koscielny made mistakes. It is easy to criticize the defenders in such a situation but they had to cover the space in front and behind them with hardly any support. United never got into such a mess at the back as they always had midfield players tracking back. Even Rooney was doing his bit.

To be fair, this season Arsenal have improved in this regard and the midfield usually does get into better defensive positions. But in a knockout game away from home with a midfield of Denilson and Diaby, what were Arsenal trying to do? Why not just stay deeper, hold positions, and play in the middle of the park inviting the opposition out in an attempt to create some space in behind?

The other predictable aspect was that United will force us wide and will defend the crosses. What’s the point of putting crosses into the box when you have one guy in there against five opponents? If you’re going to commit forward why not get more bodies in the box? Arsenal did it but only in the final twenty minutes or so but by then it was too late.

On the positive side, at least in this game Van der Saar had to make a number of good saves. In the past, the United keeper hasn’t really been troubled.

Arsene has to find a better system to suit the players that he has. I don’t expect Arsenal to have 10 great midfielders. Looking at the United team today even Denilson didn’t look out of place. But given the way Arsenal played there was just too much space around the Brazilian and it was like playing to his weaknesses rather than strengths.

Once again the left axis of Gibbs-Denilson-Arshavin was quite woeful. Brown hardly ever got forward but United still got a lot of joy down their right. Sagna wasn’t doing too well on the right either, which made matters worse.

Even in terms of attacking runs the home side players always seemed to have a clear plan whereas there were many occasions when the Gunners were running into each others’ spaces thereby reducing passing options and space. The fluid approach can work when you have your best players on the pitch but not when you’re playing a number of squad players.

One important point to note is that if United can win with the likes of O’Shea and Gibson in midfield then Arsenal can win with Diaby and Denilson. But just like Ferguson showed, Wenger has to learn to adapt his tactics to the players he can start. Until he can do that, or get in another coach who can help him do that, there will always be something or the other that goes wrong.

Individual Performances:

Almunia: Made some good saves. I don’t blame him for either of the goals. Was exposed way too often.

Sagna: Disappointing. Got his positioning wrong at times. Seemed too keen to go forward but didn’t offer enough in defence. Knocked his own man out as he was late in recognizing the danger.

Djourou: Might have done better for the first goal. Made some important interceptions. Extremely unfortunate injury.

Koscielny: Just like Djourou he could have done better for the first goal. I liked the fact that he went forward and tried making a contribution at the other end.

Gibbs: Very poor.

The back five wasn’t impressive but they were also in a difficult situation too often. The players in front just didn’t do enough and United found it easy to bring the ball from their Goalkeeper to the Arsenal penalty box.

Denilson: He is a limited player and if the team tactics don’t cover those then it seriously affects the attacking and defensive options.

Wilshere: Not very effective in an advanced role. Didn’t make the right runs, didn’t have the final pass, needs at least another year in a deeper position.

Diaby: Another one like Denilson although with different kind of limitations. Didn’t offer anything in the final third. Did do a fair bit of defensive work but it wasn’t enough.

Even with Fabregas, Arsenal have struggled to break down United as there is virtually no space in the middle. Things did get better late in the game but that was down to a high number of bodies getting forward in desperation. It’s difficult to see what Arsenal were trying to achieve by playing the same style with this midfield against such a defensive United side. Defensively the midfield was decent for large parts and that’s the reason United had few chances but the moment they tried to be adventurous the balance was lost and the door at the back was opened. After that it just got worse.

Nasri: Probably the only really impressive player in the side. Skinned Evra on a couple of occasions but rarely had enough options in the box.

RvP: Almost always had two men around him in the middle. Looked useful when he moved to the inside channels or wide. Had a couple of decent shots at goal. Struggled with the lack of bodies and movement around him.

Arshavin: tried to create something on a number of occasions but it didn’t work for him. Was double-teamed whenever he got close to the box.

I thought the attacking players were grossly outnumbered on most occasions. They struggled to get any incisive balls or runs from the midfield and also due to the lack of a clear attacking plan.

Subs: Chamakh and Rosicky had some chances but couldn’t put it in. It was good to see Ramsey back in action. He will be like a new signing next year!

Wenger: I was really disappointed with the tactics or the lack thereof. Ferguson probably doesn’t even have to think much before playing Arsenal these days as Arsene makes it all too easy for his side.

Now it’s just a matter of getting a positive result at West Brom and then hoping to see some keep players recover from injuries during the international break. This season can still get much worse if Arsenal don’t get their act together.

83 Responses to Manchester United 2 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Tim says:

    Overall,this actually wasn’t a bad performance for the most part. Dominant in possession, 20 shots, but utterly lacking that ruthless edge which United possess in buckets. But it’s that bloody-mindedness that made all the difference between the two sides tonight. We were the better side on paper, whereas United made sure they were the better side on the scoreboard.

    Wilshere was by no means bad, but he is certainly more effective playing deeper for now. At the very least, he chased all over the field right to the bitter end. There is no doubting his commitment.

    Gibbs was awful. What has happened to the promising youngster who was giving Clichy such a run for his money?

    • Ash says:

      Tim, you read my mind. Gibb’s was caught out of position for the first goal allowing space in behind which rafael exploited and for the 2nd he was too worried about the ball going in behind him and so gave raphael too much space in front and even when he did go to the ball he got skinned too easily. For an important game like this Wenger should have gone with Clichy. Our system only suits our first 11 but for the second string surely we should allow arshavin to play off rvp and play a 4-4-1-1? We could have played Eboue on right and nasri on left with wilshire and diaby in central midfield. That way we could have been tighter at the back and hit united on counter with Eboue offering pace and arshavin giving support to rvp. Am so embarrassed that we couldn’t beat that united side. The hurt inside me just won’t go away and there are NO EXCUSES TO HIDE BEHIND. Djorou getting injured only makes it even worse.

  2. peterparker78 says:

    Thank you Desi. Really good blog and hit nail on the head.

    I have nothing to add as all the comments I had have been addressed. It’s amazing to see we get beaten by a defensively sound and tactically astute teams such as Utd and Chelsea time and again however “one of the most qualified and intelligent person” with “intelligent players” not willing to learn from that. There is something seriously wrong here with the set up. I completely agree with you that the manager has to learn as it’s his responsibility to assess the opposition and set up his team accordingly which he repeatedly failed to do so while admittedly our strongest available side could do so against Utd B team. I am just so worried that our one reasonably good defender (not great but just good) Djourou is out now and he is our only hope against aerial assualt/long ball compared to Squalacci and Koscielny, who compared to him are ………(I am lost for words!!), our last chance to give Utd a challenge for the league title is gone. We have to play Liverpool (carrol and suarez) and defensively solid and tactically astute manager (Daglish), spurs and Utd, Not to mention Bolton and Stoke away from home and I cannot see this defence standing upto that with our strikers not able to hit a cow’s back side with a banjo.

    I am not playing a blame game and in my defence, I said that long time ago (before transfer window) however men at the helm have other ideas. I don’t know how can the fans influence the lack of desire and ignorance towards flaws in this side, but we have to. It’s not that we are operating on shoe string budget, come on, we are spending 117 million on wages alone, which is more than 60% of our turn over, and only four clubs have wage bill more than 100 million in this league. The deadwood in this squad has to be removed and more tactically adaptable players need to be drafted in, whether from academy or by selling plainly limited players like Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky, Bentendner, Squalacci, Almunia. Sale of these will bring enough cash to get few decent defenders and Defensively minded midfield players to provide cover and create room in the wage bill. I also agree with you that we cannot be one trick pony all the time, we need to adapt the tactics according to the opposition rather than relying on “players’ intelligence” to get us out these situations.

  3. amband says:

    Face facts, They are a squad not destined to win competitions

  4. JP says:

    We are not good enough. I am convinced. How can three players Rosicky, Diaby and Jack play in Cesc position before nasri? I don’t understand. Tactically we are one track and weak. Some players are just not good enough point blank. Budget team comes up short once again.

    • samir nasri says:

      i think it’s just because we need a good winger.

      i hope it’s clear to everyone our first 11 can play the perfect game, fluid, as desi said. i’m sure we could beat united.

      had school today so i couldn’t see the game. but all in all, what i needed to know was “djourou out”.

      it’s not that i don’t think our squad can win it. i do. it’s just that we need some back up quality back-up when injuries come and kill our hopes.

      it’s looking grim for the title with djourou out. that’s really all i can say.

    • veskovp says:

      That is not true man, we are good enough, but you can play 4-3-3 at home against teams after top 5. Against top teams you have to employ different tactics. The right tactics for this game should have been 4-4-2 with Chamakh and RvP, not Denilson in the team. Then Nasri on left , Arshavin on right . From Sagna’s crosses at least two would go in if Chamakh was there from the start. 4-3-3 is not working if you do not have real powerful target man as Drogba or Ibrahimovich and works rarely against top teams and teams that play defensively.We struggled against Man C, Sunderland, W Ham and Birmingham at home too. Now will be very difficult with Djorou out. We are without our 2 1st choice GK., without 2 1st choice CD, and on and off with out 2 best midfielders Song and Sesc. Only hope is to have Ramsey play in form and Schilachi and Almunia do not mess up games. Something else we learned that Gibs does not have bright future. With the ease he missed 2 early headers against the short height Fabio was shocking, only his bad positioning and head skills did not allow him to score. Also his positioning was off very often and did not offer much in attack. Also not enough physical strength. I hope this was the last game for Diaby, Denilson and Rosicky, for the season and for Arsenal. I hope Arsene stops talking about quadruples, mental strength, positives in game has seen and take good lessons from what happend in the last 2 weeks. Because all the games coming up will be cup finals and hope he proves this group of players has something special . C’mon gooners.

      • samir nasri says:

        i agree with employing tactics, but in an offensive manner. with our strongest attacking line-up i think we’re very versatile

  5. Dhruv says:

    I just do not get it. Man Utd keep using the counter effectively against us and no tactical changes from Arsene. Why can’t we just keep our shape instead of going all out and we always get sucker punched on the counter.

    There is nothing for Man Utd supporters to be embarrassed about. Hoofing the ball upfield after The Arsenal have committed players to yet another attack leads to all sorts of problems to The Arsenal. Nothing embarrassing about beating us the last 6 times out of 7.

    10 games left, 10 wins please Arsene. League Champions. I would love it!!

  6. sam says:

    Spot on Desi — I am not that bothered with going out of the FA Cup, although a little embarrassed. Manure are obviously a good team but completely unbalanced today; there for the taking. But our tactics were a farce. Why rush upfield trying to make things happen and leave yourself exposed. Playing with the handbrake off and defensive solidity are not mutually exclusive. You somewhat jokingly said pass it around for 90 minutes and take the replay back to Emirates. But f#ck me, at least keep it 0-0 till half time, then crank it up at the 70th minute mark or so, like happened with Sunderland and hope the refs give us what we deserve but if they don’t then it’s a draw. But we were childish. Immature, overwhelmed by the occasion once again, or at least too many players were: Diaby was just short of a headless chicken compared to what Cesc would have given us. Denilson the one I really worry about, getting sucked out of his DM covering position trying to make too much happen (b/c he feels he needs to impress the fans?). I wonder how much the previous match at Old Trafford affected us, where we were patient and got a sucker punch when a ball ricochets off Park’s face and in. So this time we pour forward? No! I am at my wit’s end and really think a few heads need to be put on the chopping block at the end of the season.

    • veskovp says:

      We attack because we think we are very strong and believe we can win it and it is true we are. But again for the big guns Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Man C le boss have to play cautious game on counter atack as the old good time when Overmars scored in 80th minutes away to beat Man U. Then against the same these teams and some of the tough teams like Stoke, Birmingham and Sunderland sometimes have to play more wingers game where some crosses can be mixed in , is obvious is tough to score from short passing and trough balls from center where there is parked bus in front of the goal. This is when Chamakh time comes in. Look at the Barca game, before Sesc messed up and Barca did not have any clear chances and they also think are the best. If RvP was not sent off, soon the time when Barca was going to be annoyed and make nervous mistakes was going to come. We even scored a goal without a shot, did not Man U win so many games like this year, how many Chelsea win like that under Mourinho. I am no saying this should be our main style of play, but surely against top teams playing safe could earn us more benefits than negatives.

  7. Bob says:

    wenger out !

    • samir nasri says:

      that’s a dirty response to me, no explanation. he deserves at least one more off season + season, i only say this because if he was a terrible manager we wouldn’t have success with him.

      if you look at how hard clubs fight to stay in the BPL. we are successful. how successful, of course, is definitely subjective.

      in my opinion we would be clear winners of the premier league if we could keep our starting 11 fit all season. it’s clear now that will never happen.

      i won’t have a defense for him if our team collapses due to injuries at this stage of the season next year (and we aren’t buried in the sand and dirt yet) but it is clear that the team needs to freshen things up, be it from the academy, loanees or from transfers.

      it’s sometimes easy to forget that we should’ve started the season with both frimpong and ramsey. coquelin may be back with us.

      is it coincidence that the wenger out comment comes onto this blog after a string of losses? creepy voyeurs.

  8. Urgly says:

    3 out of 4 chances for throphy are gone. I am afraid that the last chance will be gone very soon. When will Wenger wake up and smell the coffee and realize that he will not win anything with the current group of players, and that he needs better coaches who understand how the morden game works in today’s world. Every team we play has a plan of how to beat or frustrate the hell out of us but we never seem to have a clear cut plan of how to counter the other team’s plans.

    I keep hearing about how good Wenger is as a Manger. Can someone please tell me what he is really good at besides holding on to the club’s money? I think time has long come and gone of him trying to convience the world that in today’s world a club like Arsenal who plays at this level can win throphies without spending money on quality players.

    Wemger, wake up and become part of the real world.

  9. Richard Tan says:

    What we need is one or two more good British players. The right British players not only have the necessary skills but they have a bull dog mentality. They do not give up when the going gets tough. At present, we only have Wilshere and Ramsey. Walcott is overhyped. Continental players are gifted technically and have lots of flair. However, when the going gets tough and the tough gets going, you need some players with the bull dog mentality to complement the very gifted continental players. Time to get rid of Diaby and Denilson and replace them with some good British players with the bull dog mentality.

    • MSL says:

      I would have agreed with you if not for the fact that Rvp and Nasri- the only other two players who have a fight in them. Neither is English. I will put our lack of fight down to the manager. It has gone on too long now and he needs to find someone who can lift our spirits.

    • samir nasri says:

      it depends on the person. for me, this type of comment is just xenophobic nonsense.

      • samir nasri says:

        for the record, i agree that denilson and diaby have not been up to par of late.

        but i would also like to say that there are many winners coming from many places.

    • Ash says:

      That’s rather a general comment and there are LOADS of examples that contradict what you’ve just said including vieira, petit, bergkamp, Henry, cantona, desailly, gallas etc. All of those players stood up to be counted and really gave everything they had for the cause. I can also think of British players who were lazy and unprofessional merson, letissier, gascoigne etc!

  10. JP says:

    The sad part is Rooney in his comments after the game says “We knew we could beat Arsenal on the counter.” So they pick 7 defenders, put some speed on the wings, Rooney drops back, absorb the pressure cut off our passes in the final third and quick counter. Hell…..they’ve done it what seems like the last four or five times we have played them. I would do it again too. Hell if we are not going to have any adjustment, No tactical change to counter it, why the hell not? Just let Denilson walk around and leave the defense exposed again. The same way Rooney ran past him from the halfway line to the penalty spot last year and scored. Again he was jogging. Denilson’s game IRRITATES me to no end. I cannot stand his lack of effort in defense and lack of forward initiative. I would take a hard nose, hard working player who will stay to a defensive assignment any day. The only thing we have to cling on to is that the rest during the week works in our favor. However, CB is a major worry and other injuries are also major concern. It’s going to be hard for the B team, if not impossible. Another year Same story. Oh well !!!!

  11. MSL says:

    I agree in large parts about what you say. Why does Wenger never alter his approach. I mean, we all get behind the youth development etc But comeon, change your tactics once in a while. We have done this to death so no use going down that lane. The real question is,do we need Ray Wilkins?

    I don’t think Denilson or Diabu have the engine to play for 90 minutes.

    • John Danny says:

      Time is running out for AW. His strategy are now questionable. he should not have sold some of his most experienced players like TH, PV etc. Some of the youngster’s that he has groomed are simply not good enough. I fear another year of empty shelves without trophies.

  12. visionsport.TV says:

    Treble chance a long shot but nothing is impossible !!!

  13. Am says:

    Pat Rice needs to go. Im sorry but Wenger doesnt need that particular yes man around him any more.

    Steve Bould needs to be promoted to the position, Keown and Adams should become defensive coaches working on particular with dealing with long balls and set peices.

    The following players dont have the heart for a team to challenge and need to be got out:

    Bendtner, Denilson, Diaby, Arshavin, Rosicky and Arshavin.

    We need to get in some of the younger players who are on loan, as they will want to succeed more for the club. Lansbury, Emmanual Thomas and Ramsay would be much better options in terms of effort.

    A new doctor/physio needs to be employed, ever since Gary Lewin left we have had this problem with injuries at key times.

    Theres only so much unluckyness in the world, im now thinking there is a diagnosis problem at arsenal. Either wrong diagnosis or wrong training techniques when a player is coming back into the team.

    Also the board need to come out at tell the fans the truth about the money/lack of it.

    And an explanation of the take over situation.

    I feel the only man who could attempt to change any of this is Wenger, but he wont as he has no pressure on his job at all.

    • sfgunner says:

      The constant stream of injuries to key players does lead one to question the club’s training techniques. Given Wenger’s commitment to “pass and move” football, I suspect the emphasis is on flexibility and stamina over strength. I understand that sheer bulk in itself doesn’t create a fit individual. That said, some sort of strength-based training may well help players such as Fabregas, Walcott, and Van Persie to better endure the rigors of the Premier League.

      And yes, I’d love to see the likes of Martin Keown and Tony Adams involved with our coaching staff.

  14. Prabal Rakshit says:

    One more observation.
    In the first half at least, Arsenal were much more sprightly than the earlier visits to OT. RvP actually did a decent job in drawing Vidic out, and we required the center midfielder (read Diaby) to push in and shoot. However his sometimes infuriating lack of directness and reluctance to shoot meant we always lost out on those chances. Denilson was possibly a better fit to come in the last few minutes of a game that needs to be closed, maybe we should have started with Bendtner… in the wing and Nasri in center….

    Honestly speaking, I was sharing your sentiment that a draw would be a very decent result. (Maybe Nani/ Park’s absence meant Nasri/Arshavin would play with a little more freedom.) This match was an almost replica of our loss at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season. We still have systemic issues, which no amount of personal excellence would cover. This loss is still less disappointing than say the 4-4 against Newcastle, 3-2 against WBA, the Carling cup loss against Birmingham.

    Psychological or otherwise, this is a slow end to our season’s chances. Carling Cup was the only genuine chance for us to add silverware, and it would have been a great boost for the team’s self belief. Regarding rest of the League season, Djourou’s absence would bring together the uncomfortable Koscielny-Squilaci pairing. I do not believe that Arsenal would magically become more defensively solid and break up tough teams. Cesc/ Song/ Walcott would surely add to the team, but their post injury returns would mean thy will be less effective to start with.

    In hindsight, this season showed some clear improvements such as:
    – Koscielny/ Djourou have the ability to form a nucleus of a strong defence.
    – Wilshere will only get better, provided he does not get injured.
    – Nasri has become more versatile on both wings and even in the center of midfield.
    – Against most middle level teams, we have vastly improved in the keeping the midfield and defence together and preventing some dangerous counterattacks.

    The pressing problems that still remain:
    – Theo does not have a genuine substitute apart from Nasri, the lack of genuine threat from wings means teams can shut us out by crowding the center.
    – defensive organization is still half baked, This is surely wenger’s blind spot (which desi has highlighted multiple times).
    – Cesc does not have a genuine replacement, who can fall back and bring the ball out of the defence.
    – Squad players like Denilson, diaby, rosicky still do not have a very solid gelling with the passing, pressing system, that the first team displays.

    I remember breaking up the pending fixtures on one of Desi’s older posts to show that we have a chance of winning the league. I guess I was a little too optimistic, as Sunderland has already proved me wrong. 🙂

  15. The BearMan says:

    What Arsene needs right now is an assistant coach with some fire in his belly. Pat Rice is a very, very, very, nice man and has been a very wonderful servant to Wenger and Arsenal, but Wenger needs someone that sees outside the box. Like Chris Hughton or Denis Bergkamp / T Henry.

    What Mr. Wenger must remember, we fans want him to succeed. The suggestions fans have been making is that their beloved club stand strong. Already I feel he is looking back with regret and perhaps thinking, a few changes would not have broken the bank and Arsenal might have had it all.

  16. Phil23 says:

    Arsene’s lack of tactics is not because he doesn’t no how to implement them. It is because his philosophy is to have fluid inventive football. He spends huge amounts of time training the skills they need to be able to beat a man with a bit of magic, trap the ball quicker, etc. Arsene would rather lose than use tactics as he simply does not believe in this style of football. He give the players the tools they need to win using his own philosophy. This means he thinks that he can have a team with so much quality, they can win without tactics. Even the defenders must contribute to the attacking side of the game so they must also be technical. The problem in my books is that if half our talent is injured we cannot win by quality alone. Arsene has two options if he wants us to be a truly great team,he could employ a more tactical approach to games and trainings while forsaking somewhat his philosophy. He could also have two players who are very similar in quality and positional play in each position. This means moving some players on and replacing some of them where needed. There are several players who don’t fit in for the following reasons. In defense we do not have two defensive minded fullbacks and two attacking, we have too many attacking fullbacks. As we have two great attacking left backs, it would be logic two balance out the other side by having two defensive right backs. This way, if a player is injured they are replaced by like for like. This is important because the balance is not disrupted. In the center of defense we have 3 defenders who attack the ball, while only Djourou is a “post” defender. When Djourou is injured we face problems because the other three players are more compatible with a “post” defender than a player with similar attributes to there own. This means one of the defenders must go to make way for another “post” defender. In midfield we have a massive problem that keeps coming back to haunt us. In our particular formation the midfield 3 must have very specific roles. The attacking midfielder must have a cutting edge in attack and create many opportunities for others. They must also control the games tempo. The two defensive midfielders must have two seperate skill sets. One is communicating with the backline constantly and has all the capabilities of a defender. They must be imposing themselves on the opposition midfield as much as possible, and giving off safe passes to their fellow midefielder. The other defensive midfielder must have good defensive awareness and communication with the other two midfielders as they are often the link between them. This midfielder must be able to keep the ball and move the ball up the pitch before releasing it to a player who is in an advanced position. In our midfield we currently have one player capable of doing Songs role. We also only have one player capable of doing Fabregas role to a high standard. We will luckily have the answer with Ramseys return in that position. Another problem is that we have three players who play in the other midfield role. I believe the Wilshere and Diaby are perfect for such a position but must be accompanied by players who are specialized in the other roles. So this means playing Denilson Diaby, Wilshere Diaby, Wilshere Denilson are all bad for the team. One of these players must be sold and imo Denilson does not fit even this role very well and must be the one to depart. He must be replaced by another player in Songs role. Lastly our attacking positions were unbalanced with only one true pace player in Walcott. Players having to fill in that role were often too slow and meant we lost our dimension in attack. I hope Vela is converted to the right. Imo Arsene just needs to fine tune his squad a bit. My optimism for the title race is slipping. Losing Djourou, Szczesny and Walcott for long periods all in vital positions could cost us the title. Even short term losses of Fabregas and Song in vital positions has cost us dear this season. I will not be sad if we don’t win the title but I will be sad if the necessary changes aren’t made. This is detrimental to us making the next step of winning game after game after game.

  17. shrek2be says:

    does any one else think Van persie shouldn’t be our no 1 target man? I believe he is made for the Bergkamp role , not a main striker’s role. We have to get a speedier striker in the box who has good ball control,dribbling abilities and of course lethal finishing. Sadly Walcott will never be like that , he is at an age where this part of his footballing skills should have been honed by now.Bendtner’s first touch is very awful & he can’t dribble.

    • veskovp says:

      I have been saying this all along. RvP is great striker, but he would be most useful and productive as a support striker to Bendner or Chamakh , then the target man Bendner or Chamakh will open spaces form RvP an he will be able to skin the singled defender coming against him. He can always play on the left instead Nasri or Arhavin. Can you imagine what a striker line with RvP on left , Chamakh or Bendner in center and Theo on the right

    • sfgunner says:

      I’d have to agree. Van Persie’s vision and passing abilities are somewhat wasted when he’s employed in the lone striker role. That said, he’s the closest thing we have to a “clinical finisher,” and having him drop back to the center forward position may not be viable until/unless we sign or develop a target man to fill the void Arsenal have had since Henry left the club.

  18. dan says:

    “Now if I’d been a United fan, I’d have been embarrassed by the way my team was playing hopeful long balls from the first minute.” ?? Desi, you’re losing it mate. That was vintage united finding a way to win, the length of the passes matter less than what they can lead to. Manu exhibited a sufficient number of fine passing plays, and begrudging them a forward that can latch on to forward passes just is not quality analysis, and I certainly don’t like giving them any extra credit but they made it count, we didn’t.

    Sticking with hoping the other teams at the top underperform on the final run in and maybe this team can win something, but only if the others continue to stink it up more than we are.

  19. shrek2be says:

    Phil23 , to add to your well worded point , I think Arsene should stop buying utility players like Eboue , we need specialized players for every position . Wenger is attempting Total Football at Arsenal where every player will be able to fulfill any other player’s position if necessary . This will never work simply because the English league is far too quick and physical to allow this and second you need highly skilled players for accomplishing this type of football which Arsenal don’t have. I also believe Wenger’s attempts to convert players from their original position into modfied positions is not good. It has just worked with Henry and Ashley cole. Gibbs IMO doesn’t convince me as successor to clichy. We need a proper defensive midfielder.

  20. Raghugovind says:

    Should Arsene resort to a 4-4-2 when Cesc is not there, as I don’t feel Wilshere or for that matter Ramsay have reached that level to essay that role . We have 3 strikers and I feel we will have more attacking threat with 4-4-2 in the absence of Cesc .

  21. Dark Prince says:

    I think he’s right, a 4-4-2 combination seems best if we’re without fabregas. Infact, i’d suggest a 4-1-3-2 combination. There are some things that need to be understood which we already know but we dont say, that is, we cant play our passing game properly without Fabregas. Our strength is the midfield. And without Cesc and Song, it clearly lacks both in defensive and offensive which Diaby and Denilson cant replace. I’d rather put Ramsey and Wilshere in Midfield with Nasri on the flanks. Arshavin is best suited as substitute. He cant help in good defensive display. So its better to bring him at the end when the opponent is tired. We have to start with Van Persie And Chamakh or Bendtner. But eventually the key lies with Fabregas. I dont see us winning any trophies without him.

  22. el bizarron says:

    The loss hurts, but losing Djourou for the season is even worse.

  23. arvind says:

    So many issues. Ugh
    The team is short of cover and world class players. AW refuses every year to buy more players. by spring, we are always decimated.
    One thing that we lack is the deadly counter attack. What has happened??? Our play is so predictable and rarely do we score on the counter. I always compare to the invincibles because they are the benchmark to measure too. AW says this is his most talented team. How bogus!
    We need another DM, winger with pace…., forward who is quick!, and goalie.
    Will this happen? NO.
    Im really disapointed. At this point im almost indifferent and I do not want to be. I really really hope that someone out there can address some of these issues with AW. He walks on water at the club and right now that is a bad thing….
    Get rid of the dead weight players and bring in some world class veterans… experienced players please.
    We have our highlight games every season, but nearly 6 years with nothing to speak of, is just beyond me.

  24. NepaliGooner says:

    For me, our lack of movement is the problem. For us to be playing the game we want, quick passes, the lack of movement today was absolutely horrendous. Once Ramsey came on, the movement was much much better. But oh well.

    The last two games have shown one thing for me, our lack of pace. Without Theo, we struggle to get other defenses. We need to introduce speed. I think THAT is our biggest problem. Some fast counters would be really handy.

    Once Ramsey came on, our movement was so much better. that is what is lacking. Movement. I think we are getting the basics wrong. So much going on in the last two weeks. Hopefully we can now settle down, get our heads calm, and play a little simple. And we need to get a couple of wins under our belt now.

    Calm down, and re-focus.

  25. akash says:

    a squad reshape is needed ….. diaby,denilson,rosiscy,bendtner,squilacci,arshavin should be sold……..why we fans dont have a voice over our own club….i dont understand…..

    another thing i dont understand wheather its wenger who is too miser to spend the money or is it the the board which doesnt allow him to do so

    can anyone plz rply @

    • critic says:

      We don’t have the money!!! We barely break even on the footballing side. All the profits that was announced was due to property sale and hence unstable.

      Fans do have a voice but i am glad they don’t run the club. Otherwise club wud have been in utter chaos.

      P.S- are u a cunt? John terry in disguise or dani alves’ clone?? Fuking idiot. squillaci didn’t even play last match, bendtner didn’t either.
      It’s tactics and lack of clear plan that’s causing arsenal, not the players.

  26. critic says:


    Clumsy clumsy arsenal.

    We are unlucky, naive and clumsy at the same time.
    Season over and arsene needs to widen his vision and tactics. It’s been 5 years and it seems Arsene is too concern with the style with which arsenal play rather than fans.

    Arsenal can’t succeed playing same style again and again. Where the fcuk was midfield runs???

    Alhough, i should credit arsene for using kozzer and djorou in turns as a 2nd striker. That was mind boggling!!! Unfortunately VDS saved Kozzer shot and moments later we conceded again.

    League without JD??? Very very difficult. Song return is vital. If he is not 100% he should play as a defender.

  27. Goon says:

    When ManUre plays 7 defenders it’s obvious that we should defend solidly and counter on the break

    Should’ve grinded out a draw and get the replay at home

    Srsly how can u lose to a team with Brown, Gibson and OShea Fabio Rafael all out of position??

    Still thinking we should’ve picked up Luis Fabiano. We might still be in all competitions

  28. Metalhead says:

    I think with Walcott out Arsene Wenger could have used Eboue. He brings in much needed pace in the midfield which is missing. I think you mentioned about United deploying pacy players, I think Arsenal should take a leaf out of this. Its amazing what a little bit of speed does. Eboue does tend to drive through the midfield with a quick burst of pace. Besides, he couldn’t be any worse than Rosicky !!!!!

  29. GunneRon says:

    The thing that is frustrating is when Arsenal are up against the likes of united and chelsea, we can only beat them when we really play out of our skin, with at least several shots on target and scoring not less than 2 goals, we never get scrappy 1-0 wins anymore nowadays(not in the last 4-5 seasons).Whereas for them they hardly have to break a sweat in beating us. They use the same tactic of compact defending, long balls and quick counterattacking to beat us time and time again. Can’t believe that Wenger neither sees this nor comes up with a plan to counter it.
    We,sadly have become a team which is rather easy to beat but hard to lose to for united, which wasn’t the case during the Invincibles era when Wenger had a positive head to head record against fergie.
    Nonetheless all Gunner fans have to continue backing our Players, thats the only thing we can do best because our moans and groans will not help the Team’s cause. NOW WE REALLY NEED AT LEAST 2 PLAYERS from the ‘B team’ of almunia, arshavin, bentdner, ramsey, chamakh (forget about denilson and diaby, just don’t see them making the difference unlike the others I have mentioned who are capable) And Squillaci( no other choice)TO STEP UP and provide the SPARK AND DRIVE, which seems to be lacking in our exhausted First team, to carry the team through the final 10 games.
    And pray that THEO VAN NASHIREGAS (have to include young Jack in there as well cos he’s become such a crucial player for us the last couple of months) remain in form,fit and uninjured. COME ON YOU REDS, WE STILL BELIEVE IN YOU!!!

  30. Hanibal says:


    Why should anyone be surprised? The same thing has been going on for the last 5 years. This most inconsistant bunch starts the season pretty well. But by December, they have reached the peak and start their descent into mediocrity. By March, they are out of all competitions and start struggling to remain among the first three for the CL.

    This is Wenger’s recipe. This has been his recipe for the last 5 years. As long as he is there, this will be Arsenal’s recipe.

    He has built half a team that cannot compete for an entire season. He is in terms of tactics one of the most inept managers of the Premier League. Why does it take so long to come to this realization?

    He needs a proper goal keeper. He needs 2 proper central defenders. He needs 2 proper defensive midfielders. He needs 2 world class strikers who can play for an entire season and not for half of the season. Why on Earth has he been so stubborn when universally, everybody is seeing the same thing?

    So, FUCK IT. Arsenal does not desrve to be champion or to win anything. The team is not designed for winning anything. It is Arsene Wenger’s toy. It is in the service of his lunatic vision. Either he goes or Arsenal is going nowhere.

  31. Persee says:

    Agree. Same circus every year. By spring, we are out of all competitions. Two reasons each of which is structural. First, the unwillingness to invest in new top class players and therefore the choixe Arsenal has made of going cheap. Second, Wenger’s limited tactioal ability that is only now breaking into the open.

    We can keep invoking injuries, bad luck, referees, the pitch as Wenger does. This strategy of always blaming somebody else has reached its limits.

    Would be good if Wenger left so another paradigm mght be put in place. Even Tottenham is showing how excellent investment in players and a variety of tactical acumen can keep a team strong.

    Wenger is exhausted and is exhausting all of us.
    I for one cannot keep on like this any longer. And let me tell you, if nothing changes, we will be exactly in the same situation next year and this has been going on for already 5 years.

    Enough is enough. WENGER MUST GO.

  32. Alberton says:


    Never thought it would come to people asking for Wenger to go. But here we are.

    True the man has become as obtuse and dogmatic as the Pope. He believes he knows more than everybody else. He is now defending a dogmatic position that has shown no result on the ground.

    Arsenal is becoming the laughing stock in the public mind. A bunch of nuts who love being flogged in public. And what WENGER is asking is more flogging. A reason why some on this site have been characterizing his brand of football as “soccer-calvinism”.

    But what is “soccer-calvinism”? – a toxic melange of ever-deferred gratification, avarice, sado-masochism and the stupid belief that everybody else is wrong and impure.

    That’s where this ascetic man who nevertheless goes home every year with 5 million pounds more in his bank account has led what used to be a combative, fighting team now turned into a bunch of inconsistant young boys with no testicles.

  33. Tee Song says:

    Chelski at the Emirates is widely regarded as a high point, and unfortunately might be THE high point of the season. The key to that game was pressing in our half. Walcott justifiably praised the effort of the entire team in that game. Where was the pressing in this game? With a backline of Brown, Smalling, Vidic and Evra and a midfield of Gibson, O’Shea, and the twins, exactly how were ManUre going to advance the ball against an aggressive press? I can understand defending deeper against the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi but standing off fucking Darron Gibson and John O’Shea. Did any of our forwards and midfielders defend at all? Whatever Wenger planned on prior to the game, as soon as he saw the teamsheets he should’ve instituted an aggressive press and tried to pin them back in our half.

    • alphie says:

      i was thinking the same thing during the game…..Y NOT PUT UTD UNDER PRESSURE? but also when i looked at diaby and denilson(a player lost in this arsenal system) i couldnt see how high pressing was goin to work.

      diaby is barely fully fit…there’s a abit of effort in him.if the manager picks u to start,u cant refuse?

  34. Kushagra India says:

    This squad (Diaby Denilson Rosicky) wasn’t good enough in summer wasn’t good enough in January isn’t good enough now it shows every year we choke every year this time…..Djourou out for the season once again Vermaelen have numerous setbacks as predicted but some say these are ARTIFICIAL PRESSURES 😆

  35. Kushagra India says:

    It’s not good enough. Arsenal fans aren’t stupid, we can see where the squad falls down because we’ve watched 6 seasons of predictable collapse. What has happened this time? We’re in March, our keeper is out, our best defender is out for the year and we’re struggling to cobble a starting 11 with enough desire to get out of bed.

    Even Jack Wilshere is being over exposed. He’s 18 years old and we’re talking about him as a possible captain. He shouldn’t be playing as many games as he is at Arsenal, he shouldn’t be shouldering that much responsibility at his age. It’s grossly unfair and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pick up a long term injury off the back of this much play.

    Perfectly summed u from Le-Grove
    too much too young….

  36. Kushagra India says:

    We need to start acting like a big club. Next week, season ticket renewals are released. I’ve got a contact in the printing industry who has told me that the price hike on your ticket this year is 6%. How do you feel about that? A 6% rise after another year of profit hoarding? I think it’s an absolute disgrace and I think it’s about time Arsenal fans voiced their discontent about the way things are going online and in the ground.

    We’re being run by a manager who is accountable to no one, who has flunked 3 out of 4 trophies again and you’re being whacked with a 6% increase in price in one of the hardest recessions ever despite record profits over the last 5 years.

  37. Kushagra India says:

    75% of arsenal fans agree we are bottlers…

  38. Kushagra India says:

    Comments from other blogs—–

    Losers for players.

    Losers for a manager.

    Losers for a board.

    But the biggest losers who let these people have 0 expectation and always provide the excuses for every failure:

  39. Kushagra India says:


    If JD is out for the season we are well and truly fucked, and it IS all the manager’s fault, it is down to him to have adequate backup……Almunia for Chezzer, Squilachi for JD20… me a fucking favour, and that is before the farce that has been the handling of TV5, fucking shambolic management at every level, but don’t worry guys we made £56m last year….

    and these are Arsenal fans 0f over 25 years with season tickets…

  40. Kushagra India says:

    djourou gone for the season.

    wenger has 1 keeper and 2 centre backs fit.

    he has ran wilshere into the ground at 19

  41. Kushagra India says:

    I sincerely fear for Jacko considering what happened to Owen and what is happening to Cesc…

  42. Kushagra India says:

    choy says:
    March 12, 2011 at 19:16
    sell the fucking stadium.. sell all the fucking players.. build a fucking hotel!

  43. Kushagra India says:

    Now on my perspective…..Our first team has everything but our second team is utterly poor and we are big bottlers too many mercenaries or players who take Arsenal as their stepping stone to Barca….Wenger has to shoulder the blame for taking too many risks with this squad…

  44. Arun says:

    As far as Diaby is concerned, it was a poor game from him. Nothing more but a poor game. Slowed down lot of attacks, didn’t make the passes at the rite time and worst- lost the ball far to easily and often. Denilson was not as poor. He did his job. Nothing spectacular was expected from him. He was there to just keep the ball moving and he did just that. Little creativity from the Russian and Nasri. These two players were supposed to be the main attacking options last night and both failed miserably. I wont fault their effort. Effort was there. But something extra was expected. Some little magic, one special move, pass or shot. They were looking handicapped like missing something (Cesc?/confidence?)who can get the best out of them. And thats what worries me especially at this time.

    Worst thing yesterday was that, there was no understanding between the players. They just couldnt pick each others run. There were far too many misplaced passes. And United playing with a complete New midfield played better passes.. especially in the final third. Unbelievable !!

  45. Kushagra India says:

    and our first team rarely plays….been the same since last 5 years and its not at all artificial pressure my dear friend…

  46. santori says:

    Goes back to what I was clamouring on last season in that we really need an innovative approach tactically and that can only happen if ;

    1) Wenger recognises it
    2)We change around our coaching staff. pat Rice has to go.

    Putting aside the fact that United looked the hungrier of the two teams, our transition into attcak was woefully slow.

    Where as United seem like a wound spring ready to pounce forward the moment they would win over the ball, we were tedious in our approach, not helped with Denilson’s perchance for playing short side passes.

    As you so pointded out Desi, we needed a proper game plan something Wenger has constantly failed to match up against Sir Alex.

    Very dissapointing result because we had the ability to beat them but went about it the wrong way.

  47. Bengali Gunner says:

    And just a thought..
    when Song was out, why didnt we try plas Kos as DM cos hes Very good at readin the game, then play Squid at the back with JD (hes not that bad when with him)
    so it would be..
    Sagna JD Squid Clichy
    Kos LJW
    Theo/Arsh Cesc Nasri

  48. JP says:

    And remember Wenger said, “I will not use the fact that I did not buy a center back as an excuse at the end of the season.”. Song, TV5, Djourou, all down. Here we are with a realistic chance of winning the league and center back is still haunting us. Last year we lost a number of center backs we get Kos and Squilaci. Do I need to say any more, now look were we are. So sad.

  49. black jesus says:

    The media and some Arsenal supporters tirade of BULLYING ARSENAL and Wenger is insensitive and heartless.
    I aver, wholeheartedly, that ARSENAL are run, second to none. Superlative.
    I FACT that AFC have NOT won silverware for 5 years and counting cannot be denied. But it is not like FC have been inthe doldrums in that period.

    3 times runners up in finals, always in the top 4 is enough to to give creedance for that period in AFC’s history.

    To be rational, the club are trying hard. They are not a Man U, Chelsea or MAn City. They are not trigger happy in the transfer market.

    They will win silverware when they deserve to win silverware. All clubs have the same realistic approach i HOPE. But soem clubs tend to try and buy their silverware. Good luck to them.

    Wenger needs to be admired and respected. Not ridiculed. Note well…..He will end up winning much more more. This is just the new begiining of silverware for AFC.

    ….dare I suggest.

  50. […] Manchester United 2 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis I was hoping a draw will be a good result but it was not to be. Both teams had a number of key players missing. Wenger […] […]

  51. Kushagra India says:

    “Arsenal’s game is a trademark on the pitch, it’s just that there are not really any players with a winning mentality.
    “Players are playing against their nature a bit. Barcelona play exceptional football, from the age of six, seven, eight in the academies of Barcelona they teach you to play the same way.
    “That’s not the case with Arsenal.
    “Maybe that’s been the case for a few years in the football academy but I notice there are players we’ve known for a long time who are playing against their nature.
    “There are players who try to play a bit in the image of Fabregas, when they don’t have the same qualities.
    “Everyone has to bring something to the table, and that’s what I find with this Arsenal team, that some players are playing against their nature.”


  52. Kushagra India says:

    According to Javier Mascherano, far from honing their sublime skills on the training field, Barcelona do very little work on forward play. Mascherano told Rafael Benitez, his former coach at Liverpool, that Josep Guardiola concentrates mainly on defensive strategies and regaining possession.
    With Lionel Messi, David Villa, Xavi, Pedro and Andres Iniesta in the side he no doubt presumes goals will come. Instead, Barcelona focus each week on what to do without the ball; the hunting in packs, the onus on a player who has surrendered possession to win it back as soon as possible.

    Read more:

  53. bellagio says:


    Just FUCK the Calvinist! No game plan. No tactic. The guy is totally UNACCOUNTABLE. Just FUCK this BUNCH of inconsistant people who take us all for a ride. GO and BUY players and stop whining about injuries, bad pitch, bad referees, bad luck, bad ass. Just FUCK THIS SHIT. I am SICK and TIRED of WENGER and his inability to listen. Just FUCK HIm and leave us in peace. EVry single year the same old fucking story of excuses and nothing else except blaming others while pocketing the money. Go and buy players and stop this fucking shit. FUCK!!!

  54. Abhinav Kini says:

    Believe it or not, Arsenal recorded the most shots on target at OT than any other team since 2003, 9 shots. So it wasn’t an all round bad performance. Van Der Sar was just at the top of his game. Anyway let’s hope they come up with a good response against WBA.

  55. Claver says:

    What a terrible game of football by Arsenal.

    Without Fabregas, the players are hesitant to make attacking runs because then they have to run back and defend.

    Arsenal are nothing without Fabregas at the moment. Perhaps Ramsey will do a job. Otherwise, nothing.

    It’s disheartening.

    Pat Rice must leave, I bet we pay him handsomely for sitting there looking forlon. I wouldn’t him sat next to me if I had a mission to accomplish.

    What Assisting does he do?

    Wenger has zero to offer tactically. These players I think are capable of much more.

    If there is one thing Wenger is guilty of is over-sentimentality with Rosicky, Wilshere, Nasri and RvP.

    These guys are just pampered, lathered softies. In Wilshere’s case, the youngster may one day grow an eye for a pass but not yet.

    Is it in Wilshere’s contract to play all the games?

    How awfully awful. Terribly terrible.

    Nasri should never have sat in Henry’s seat. He might fight with Gallas but at least Gallas has fight and spirit.

    These guys are candy floss. I thought they’d learned some lessons from tough fights but boy…they are fragile indeed.

    No wonder these guys didn’t want Toure and Adebayor. They were bullied all over by Utd. Made to look like boys.

    The sad fact is, teams know Arsenal have a weak pysche. Pampered.

    Bring back the Invincibles…Toure, Campbell, Petit, Parlour, Ljundberg, Cole, Viera MEN with toughness in them.

    This current crop is pathetic. Sex without the orgasm.

    Wenger seems to be taking out the fight out of players like Diaby and Denilson. These youngsters have in them the ability to fight fire with fire.

    But Wenger is feeding them milk instead of meat.

    You see the fire in Walcott. Ditto Koscielny.

    RvP has long since lost his mojo, hope he finds it. Rosicky looks like he is on his way out and Wenger is maximising the potential sale price!!!

    This is the time when our players ought to be on fire! Not mopping around looking for mommy.

    Arsene should make Denilson Captain. Someone with fire who ACTUALLY isn’t afraid and wants to play. After all, Denilson is/was the Captain of a team that wins – Brazil U21.

    Fabregas should no longer be Captain. Nor Wilshere, who is looking dazed at best.

    Arsenal need a change.

  56. Claver says:

    Pat Rice OUT!!!!!!!! Don’t let him anywhere near the team for crying out loud!

    Peter Hill-Wood OUT!!!! For not making funds available and for sticking Wenger into a corner. Small club mentality.

  57. Claver says:

    Bring back Traore for crying out loud enough of this BNP nonsense!!!!

    Not another game with Gibbs getting skinned whilst looking classy! He cost us when Ronaldo was there and he cost us again against Valencia.

    He also cost us against Leyton Orient. ENOUGH of Gibbs. He doesn’t have what it takes.

    Maybe Wilshere can be the best left back ever.

    Get rid of Gibbs bring back Traore. Get rid of Rosicky.

  58. Maximilian G. says:

    it is Rocky Rocastle memorial day ,
    It is great to pay tribute to an Arsenal legend with class AND heart
    watch this wonderful tribute

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