There are many things you can admire about Arsène Wenger, one of the best managers to grace the Premier League, but there are also many reasons not to, as many will point out that the Arsenal boss is a bad loser. More than a bad loser.
Arsenal were the better team on the day, but Wenger’s latest claims of cheating, accusing a certain player as someone ‘who plays only to make fouls’ and anti-football were just bitter and wrong.
Although he doesn’t admit it, the player who Wenger has described as someone who only fouls is Darren Fletcher. The Frenchman believes that the Scot should have got a yellow card, and maybe he did deserve one, but is it too little a thing to make a deal out of.
Just days after Eduardo’s dive in the Champions League where the Croatian was charged, harshly, Emmanuel Eboue, for some reason, decided that he should dive to earn a free kick, picking the worst possible time to do this. Patric Evra was no way near him and the intention for Eboue was to earn a free kick.
“I think it is difficult with diving,” he said. “Sometimes players dive to escape being hit. It’s not always necessarily diving because you want to dive. Sometimes it’s a way of getting out of the way. The borderline between being sensible, being shrewd or being a cheat is very slim so, in some cases, to assess which is which is very difficult.”
In some cases, it is difficult to assess diving. In Eduardo’s case, after that horrific injury and some contact from the goalkeeper, yes, it is difficult to assess. But for Eboue, it was not. As he lying on the ground, his arms were outstretched to the referee asking why he hadn’t been awarded a free kick.
It looks like a case of sour grapes for Wenger. Great manager but a bad loser. He did not deserve to be sent off in the final seconds of the game but claims of ‘anti football’ and a player ‘who plays only to make fouls’ were just unprofessional.
Manchester Utd 2-1 Arsenal
Whenever these two teams play each other it is always eventful. A game where luck seemed to be on United’s side, with two penalty decisions going their way, an calamitous error from a player who was dubbed the ‘next Vieira’ just last week when he inspired his team to victory over Portsmouth, and who could forget the great entertainment shown by the opposition’s manager at the end?
Manchester United were far from convincing as they took all three points in a scrappy encounter. A stunning goal from Andrei Arshavin in the first half gave Arsenal the advantage before Robin van Persie’s free kick, which hit the crossbar, nearly doubled the lead.
Arsenal were in control until he brought down Wayne Rooney for a penalty, which not only did Rooney convert, but the home side showed much more urgency to get their second.
But the second goal was a gift. A cross from Ryan Giggs seemed pretty harmless as it went into the path of Abou Diaby, who for some reason, decided to head into his own goal. Yes, it was unintentional but the Frenchman had a number of possibilities to deal with the ball. It stunned the 76,000 capacity crowd and those watching at home. The points were literally gifted to Man Utd.
The tireless Darren Fletcher was terrific as his man of the match worthy performance was one of the highlights of the game. But the Scot is not Arsene Wenger’s biggest fan as he was puzzled to why he did not get booked on a day where the referee had a total of nine names in his book. A good penalty shout was turned down as away side believed that Fletcher had fouled Arshavin.
And while both Dimitar Berbatov and Nani had golden chances in the final minutes to wrap it up, Wenger’s did not waste his golden chance of providing some comedy for the fans. After being sent off for kicking a bottle because Robin van Persie’s ‘goal’ in the final seconds was judged offside and therefore disallowed. Credit must go to the linesman for spotting something so crucial.
Wenger, reluctant to listen to the official’s order, only made things worse for an unlucky Arsenal today, by providing the crowd with some extra joy. No, the performance was unconvincing but the reward of three points generously donated by a kind young man named Abou Diaby is all that matters.
Venue: Old Trafford Date: Saturday, 29 August Kick-off: 1715 BST
Form: Man Utd: WDWWLW Arsenal: LDWWDW
When Manchester United went to the Emirates last year to play their second leg of the Champions League semi final, the Red Devils expected a tricky night, but it was far from it, as they outclassed Arsenal in every department as the game was already over in the first eleven minutes. A game which Patrice Evra’s described as “men against boys”.
But Saturday’s Premier League tie against Arsenal should be nothing like the demolition on that cold Tuesday night. In fact, they face the in-form side, who have already scored fifteen goals in four of their games so far, with ten of them coming in just two league matches.
United bounced back well from their 1-0 defeat to Burnley with a 5-0 victory over Wigan, with both Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen off the mark for the season as well as a important landmark was reached by Wayne Rooney, who becomes the 18th player to score a century of goals.
Dimitar Berbatov (Man Utd): Berbatov looks in good form and against Wigan, it was the Bulgarian international who supplied many of the Manchester United chances. He also found the net using his brilliant individual skill at the DW Stadium and United would ask for more of the same at Old Trafford.
Andrei Arshavin (Arsenal): A threat whenever he has the ball in his feet, Andrei Arshavin is capable of scoring goals from any angle, and he can use his terrific defence-splitting vision to pick out a pass to any of his tea mates.
Prediction: 1-1: Expect a tight game, where both teams cancel each other out with Arsenal having the better share of the possession.
Arsenal (4-3-3): Almunia; Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy; Song, Denilson, Diaby; Arshavin, Eboue, van Persie.
Manchester United (4-4-2): Foster; O’Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra; Park, Fletcher, Carrick, Nani; Berbatov, Rooney.
We recommend you also read:
- The Joy of Six: free-kick specialists (Guardian)
- Early-season congestion is capable of upsetting England’s four clubs (Guardian)
- United to slip up in Champions League Banana skin group? (A kick in the Grass)
- Arsenal must press on with their defensive plan against Man Utd (Arsenal Column)
Two goals in two Championship games for Watford from on loan Tom Cleverley proves why many Premier League clubs were keen on signing the young midfielder from Manchester United this summer.
A versatile midfielder who is not renown for scoring goals but Cleverley has continued to show consistency when on the pitch, and looks a bright prospect for the future.
From what I’ve seen on MUTV and other footage such as the Football League Show on the BBC, he looks the real deal. Last year, he joined Leicester and straight away settled in before an injury forced him to return back to United. Before that his effort for the reserve side has earned him a nomination for the prestigious Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year.
He can play anywhere in midfield as well as in defence with boss Sir Alex Ferguson revealing that he has attracted interests from many other clubs in the Premier League.
It will be difficult to break into the first team but the talented twenty year old will have to continue to play well, and the rise of Darren Fletcher into the senior squad shows that you could make the team if you continue to develop. Cleverley did score for United in pre season against Valencia where they beat the Spanish side 2-0.
We recommend you also read:
- Prelude to a new golden era (Between the Lines)
- The Nani conundrum (Between the Lines)
- Is Arjen Robben worth a punt? Here are some stats (RedRants)
- Samuel Eto’o's arrival at Inter should enliven the Champions League (Guardian)
Wigan Athletic 0-5 Manchester Utd
After losing 1-0 to Burnley in midweek, many people doubted how Manchester United would push for a fourth consecutive title without Cristiano Ronaldo.
But the champions proved many wrong in typical style, scoring a flurry of late goals to beat Roberto Martinez’s side. The day will belong to Wayne Rooney, who scored his 100th and 101st goal in a red shirt, and was praised by boss Sir Alex Ferguson after the game.
“It’s a great achievement as he is only a young lad. It will do him the world of good,” said Ferguson on Rooney. “Some players have been at the club for many years and not reached that total yet,” he said.
“Strikers have to score – that is their mantra. If they are not scoring they think the world is at an end. When they are scoring they think they will never finish scoring. But that is what they are.”
The impressive Dimitar Berbatov was also on the scoresheet, scoring a terrific individual goal as well as showing some lethal touches combining and linking up well as usual. Michael Owen also found the net with a trademark finish, his first goal for his new club, and the creator of that goal, Luis Nani, rounded things off with a last minute fifth after he curled a free kick past Chris Kirkland.
The United boss was happy to see Owen and Berbatov amongst the goals, and hopes the strikers can continue to find the net which will go a long way to United’s title bid.
“That is what he needed, he needed a goal,” the manager said of Owen. “It is what he is made of. I was so pleased for him and Dimitar Berbatov. If the strikers keep doing that it gives us a big chance.”
After a frustrating first half, where Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher both missed golden chances, the second half was in no way similar. Antonio Valencia supplied a beautiful cross which Wayne Rooney headed home for his 100th goal before Berbatov conjured up a piece of magic minutes later. After a clever dink over the ‘keeper he then volleyed past two defenders to make it 2-0.
Rooney then made it 3-0 after a deflected effort capped up a good move for the visitors. Michael Owen then struck to make it 4-0, a little chip was just too good for Kirkland. And Nani completed the rout with a free kick showing there is in fact life after Ronaldo.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Manchester United|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||11|
|6||Shots off Target||3|
Is Arsène Wenger right? Would the big heavyweights of the continent be head to head every week? Before Arsenal’s game against Celtic, which they won 2-0, the Gunners boss believes that in ten years time we would see a new European League.
From a financial point of view, this may be an opportunity as the sum of money could be all too tempting for the likes of the men behind the scenes from the big four, not to mention clubs such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
Manchester United say they are happy with the existing structure but other clubs, may be keen for the change. How would this system work? Wenger has an idea of how it might work; “Teams would have to play in both the European Super league in midweek and the national league at the weekend. It means all these teams have two teams.”
In 1998, their were discussions about a breakaway European Super League for Manchester United, Arsenal, AC Milan and Inter Milan, Juventus, Ajax, Paris St Germain, Marseille and Borussia Dortmund. Who knows how that could have turned out if it had become a reality?
Could this be just another ridiculous idea though? From what Wenger said, it doesn’t sound so promising, playing with your strong side in one competition and your second string in another. Just like the 39th game idea or the thought of Celtic and Rangers in the English League it shouldn’t be done. (Well that’s our opinion anyway, what do you think?)
If you are interested in writing for us, please leave a comment or email us, which you can find on the contact widget on the side.