Analysis and Observations: Arsenal 1-0 Manchester Utd

Aaron Ramsey celebrates with his Arsenal team-mates after his goal beat Manchester United

The ‘Squeaky Bum Time’ saying has not been uttered as many times as it has been in previous seasons; indeed, Manchester United have led the chasing pack for a prolonged period. And, even in the so-called business end of the campaign, United have looked a team with an air of confidence and a side destined for success – but that deserted them here at the Emirates, looking alien to the side that powered past Schalke in midweek.

United were second best and Arsenal, playing with an element of freedom, deserved the victory. There was, though, something intriguing about this game – United’s players looked tired and almost fazed by the pressures of performing, and simply weren’t penetrative enough, perhaps too conservative, and Arsenal, in the midst of a horrid run acting as a contrast to their opponents, thrived from that.

The handball that went unpunished. Had Arsenal not picked up three points from this tie, Chris Foy would be well in the firing line. But tribalism would be to blame if that had been the case – Vidic’s handball would have resulted in a red and a spot-kick in a perfect world but referee’s do not have replays to which to look at. Fans would need to understand that when Vidic handled, very few actually saw it – van Persie was livid, as were a section of Arsenal’s fans but obvious it was not.

If seen, Vidic would have been dismissed and Arsenal awarded a penalty – denying a goalscoring opportunity with your hand in van der Sar’s job and only his – yet the failure to charge the Serb should not see Foy criticised. This was a game to forget for Vidic, who nearly conceded a goal preceding this incident where his poor clearance went straight into the path of Jack Wilshere, who hit wide. Towards the death, United had a claim of their own; Michael Owen could have also been awarded a penalty when Gael Clichy looked to have tripped him in the box.

Arsenal prosper as collective. What the Red Devils have done so well this season is graft points not from the work of an individual, but as a collective. Today was an exception – of course, no points came from this game as Arsenal crafted an admirable team performance of their own. Aaron Ramsey scored with a delightful finish and the Welshman enjoyed an excellent game in central midfield in Cesc Fabregas’ absence.

Theo Walcott looked dangerous in the first half and had Patrice Evra struggling at times, while van Persie’s movement also posed a threat, although United did do well, at times, to deny him opportunities that might have arisen against a somewhat lesser team. Still, the Dutchman was constantly involved and linked up play effectively.

Fabio makes a good impression. It was pleasing that United’s young Brazilian full-back played a good game – you usually do perform against Arsenal if your surname is da Silva. He displayed such vigour and vitality, refreshingly and was a threat whenever going forward; although his defensive game does still need work, he put in a decent shift. Javier Hernandez’s movement and Rooney’s incisiveness was not particularly obvious, and so much credit should go to Arsenal’s back line for that (and Alex Song) – Laurent Koscielny showing solidarity and perhaps silencing his critics at the same time. He, and Arsenal, made a point – and despite throwing away the season, delayed any celebrations from United and blowing the title race open. Next up, Chelsea. Squeaky bum time, albeit a little later, indeed.

The Report Card. Van der Sar C; Fabio B, Nemanja Vidic E, Rio Ferdinand C, Patrice Evra D; Nani C, Michael Carrick C, Anderson D, Park D; Wayne Rooney C, Javier Hernandez C

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14 responses to “Analysis and Observations: Arsenal 1-0 Manchester Utd”

  1. Doron says :

    Intrigued by your ‘E’ for Vidic. He’s moment of madness aside, he was as usual a rock. First half he was clearing just about everything when Arsenal had constant pressure.

    Think you’re right to single out Fabio for praise, very assured again and totally justifying this recent run in the side.

    • The Gaffer says :

      It might be intriguing because, yes, he has been our rock, perhaps our most outstanding performer of the season but I can’t take that into account today.

      Part of that ‘E’, I’ll admit, was down to his crazy moment which denied van Persie an opportunity on goal – that really disappointed me. If it was just a rating of his performance, perhaps a C. Having said that, his performance was only decent; not as convincing, personally, as previous. He looked jaded – that rash clearance which Wilshere failed to take advantage off an example.

      I was in two minds whether to base this report card feature on just performance. In this case, I didn’t 😉

  2. arsenal fan says :

    Obviously I’m an arsenal fan but I couldn’t help but notice how many times you mentioned how bad our season had become, a fault of our own of course, but I think the ratings and description of the game was very accurate, good post

  3. Gooner4Life says :

    The linesman had a perfect view of the handball. There can be no excuses. Should have been penalty and red. United get away with it yet again. Would have been fun if Vidic missed the game against Chelsea.

  4. Ayah Khalish Khalisha says :

    Dissapointing, hopefully United will bounce back as usual..

  5. Berg Stroemer says :

    I don’t know if this will make you feel better, but Berbatov was clearly offside on Michael Owen’s penalty claim and was obviously involved in the play because he prevented Koscielny from clearing Rooney’ pass.

  6. thundertinygooner says :

    I’m a Gooner who was there and I didn’t have a clue what RVP was protesting about.If you get fed up with Vidic we’d be VERY happy to have him.
    Very balanced comments I can’t see you losing at home to Chelsea but who can tell this season?!

    • The Gaffer says :

      We’re not all fed up with Vidic – he hasn’t played better in all of his United career and fans are ominously saying he’s our Player of the Year. Just that today’s incident was a little disappointing.

  7. ken says :

    Think you are wrong about the handball. would have been a yellow, if seen, not a red.

    • Sam says :

      Nope denying goal scoring opportunity in the box is red. If not goal scoring opportunity then it’s a yellow.

      Today that was most definitely a goal scoring opportunity.

      Fair write up.

  8. rlisu says :

    Interesting. Most of our players were shocking, but we can’t just put that down to a hangover from Tuesday. Several did not play, and others did not work very hard in that match, and it was 5 days ago. So no excuse there. We got our tactics wrong. of course we did, its a league away game. In retrospect I am wondering why are we all surprised that we were so shite. It was a typical away performance from United.

    The team was set up to let Arsenal have the ball and try to catch them out on the counter. Simple really. And awful. That is one of the reasons why we only have 24 points from 18 away games this season. We started playing our typical CL away game in the league, especially if its against a tougher opponent. We had “two forwards” but Rooney played very deep, in what really looked like a 4-5-1. It isolated Hernandez, and he became useless. He can not hold up the ball at all. So unless he would have somehow beaten their offside trap there was not point in having him on the pitch.

    But he was really poor, I am surprised at your grades. Here are mine: VDS-B, Fabio-B, Rio-C, Vidic-D, Evra-F for the first half, C for the second, Nani-C, Carrick-D, Anderson-C, Park-F, Rooney-D, Hernandez-F
    And Fergie gets a D. And its so high only because he fielded what on paper was a strong line up.
    Yes, and I stand by them. We all agree Fabio was pretty decent. Nani was not great, but at least he was positive and contributed something, also worked hard defending, better than Park. Park was simply shocking, one of his worst games for us, how Fergie kept him on the pitch so 90 minutes is beyond me. And he was moved to CM? How? To later play alongside Rooney? Yeah, that made a lot of sense… Substitutions came to late and wrong players were taken off. Why did Rafael not come on for Park? Why did Valencia not come for Anderson? That would have made more sense than putting Park there. Valencia can actually play at CM.
    People on twitter moan about Nani hitting the wall on free kicks. But how is that worse than Rooney’s free kicks? So he gets it on target, so what, the kicks were so weak that the keeper had not trouble saving. You kick that weakly when you’re 19 yards out, not 25 or 30. Its just catching practice for the keeper.

    And finally the penalties. A lot was written about the Vidic handball, But it was very hard to see live. Yet hardly anyone is moaning about the three penalties that we should have had. The arm pulling on Evra, even hockey does not allow holding. Blatant penalty. The handball on the line, on the line means a penalty, that simple. And the obvious foul on Owen. But Foy, after yesterday, was going to be coward and not call anything. That is the only explanation I have. I like him usually. But today he was weird. Silly yellow to Rooney for a nothing foul, yet several players got away with much worse. How? Refs will make mistakes, but we need them to be consistent. If they are inconsistent AND shit, then we have a problem

  9. Manutd4evr says :

    ferguson has reached d end of his abilities. how many big away matches has he won this year? nil!!
    Plus his tactical abilities wil be put into question by the substitutions he made alongwith the startin line up. is it time for us to move on from ferguson?? I guess so

  10. Douglas Crockett says :

    Nice writeup of the game. I also think the formation was questionable and may lead to defeat if repeated against Chelsea.

    Park is not played as a true winger but more as a central MF. That gives ManU a lopsided formation and gives away width on a pitch made for it. Easy to defend with a pressing defense which Arsenal used and Schalke did not. Anderson and Nani were clogged up with defenders.

    When Valencia came in things got better but at the expense of any drive up the middle without Giggs or Anderson. That’s not Park’s game.

    Tottenham’s wingers were abysmal against Chelsea’s pressing defense. If ManU try to go with one winger against Chelsea, it could be a long afternoon. If ManU use it against Schalke, I’d be surprised if they didn’t face the same all court press.

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