Arsenal’s Problems Laid Bare At Old Trafford

Manchester United 2 – 1 Arsenal 

1 – 0 van Persie (9)
2 – 0 Evra (67)
2 – 1 Cazorla (90)

Rooney missed pen (44)
Wilshere sent off (72)

By the time Jack Wilshere left the field having seen red, the match was over. It was over long before that. Last season, the corresponding fixture threw out a result at once humiliating and exceptional; the same United team was beaten 6 – 1 by Manchester City. It could be dismissed, put out of our minds, a freak result in a season of the unusual scoreline. This time? A performance so redolent of recent matches should have brought about a wider margin of defeat. As much as I dislike Sir Alex Ferguson, had United scored six, there could have been few complaints. Unless they were all from penalties, of course…

At what point does the manager admit defeat with 4-3-3? At what point does he admit that he cannot make it translate into an effective tactic in the Premier League with this personnel? Surely it must be dawning on him by now? The lack of discipline in the back four at the moment makes me wonder if 4-4-2 would work. Santos and Vermaelen will win a gold medal at unsynchronised swimming at the next Olympic. There is a common problem on the left side when the Brazilian is in the team, Podolski cannot seem to work effectively with Santos on any kind of defensive solution. Kieran Gibbs injury cannot be healed too quickly.

I don’t care if Santos swapped shirts with van Persie at half-time, to me it’s a stupid as Steve Hodge claiming Maradona’s shirt after that match in 1986. To some it is a problem; get over it, there are deeper concerns. Such as the Brazilian’s inability to provide a disciplined defensive performance. Yes, we all love those little samba shimmies he produces. Time and place springs to mind.

And United exploited this fault repetitiously throughout the match. He was not the only culprit in defence. Vermaelen has been worryingly out of sorts since returning from injury, the assuredness of his initial season has gone and an uncertainty manifesting in rashness has taken its place. It is not as if punishments have not been few and far between, lessons there for him to learn from. This time Rafael exploited the space at left back before the Belgian skewed his clearance; He provided the unerring finish into the corner.

Arsène’s pre-match plan to contain the match never materialised. The statistics show Arsenal had possession but so much of it was ineffective, a point acknowledged by the manager post-match when he called it, “illusory domination“. Yet this is not an unfamiliar problem for the manager; it has still not been addressed. Rooney might have made matters worse but Mannone made the first of a string of good stops; someone enhanced their reputation in this match.

Arsenal had barely threatened, certainly not managed anything on target. When Aaron Ramsey’s run and cross being stopped by De Gea is the highlight of the opening forty-five minutes, the paucity of fare on offer is laid bare for all to see. Trailing by a single goal was a bonus to Arsenal. Cazorla raised his hands in the area and a penalty ensued. Quite rightly. We’ve seen them given against Arsenal at home, let alone Old Trafford. Rooney missed and some claim justice was done. It wasn’t. The referee did not influence the outcome of this match, United were a different proposition to Arsenal without any perception of favourtism.

Arsenal reacted briefly at the start of the second half, Giroud narrowly missing. OK, Valencia and Carrick had gone close beforehand but we’ll ignore that in the vain search for something hopeful, something positive. Such rays of light were few and far between; United added a second when Evra scored from close-in. The wagon was listing before the wheels came off. Wilshere might have been sent off previously, along with Cleverley. The difference came with substitutions; Ferguson removed his errant midfielder before punishment was meted out. Wenger lacked that clarity of thought or the will to do so. That doesn’t absolve Wilshere of blame, far from it, the midfielder is rated as one of best in the game but the flaws in his game were exposed.

In the end, Cazorla reduced the deficit, gave the scoreline an illusory closeness. The problem for Arsenal is that this is a repetitious performance. The lacklustre performances have been too frequent since the last international break and there is no rational reason why. Form had been good previously – or relatively so – but individuals are not standing tall. Vermaelen is as much a problem as Santos. Rashness has influenced his game, is it a lack of confidence in himself or his colleagues? Has he been made captain because he is next on the transfer list, a gentle way of moving him out of the club?

Whatever the problems are, this is where the manager and coaching staff have to address them. It is repetitive that every Autumn sees results drop away with the changing of colours of the leaves. As the ground becomes a rainbow hue, the draws and defeats increase. Each team has a downturn at some point; Arsenal’s seem more entrenched and a resoultion needs to be found swiftly.

At the end of this, almost on the outside, is Theo Walcott. Wenger has repeatedly excluded the winger from the team despite evidence that he is enhancing attacking play in recent weeks when involved. Yesterday, the lack of width was evident and in those circumstances, it is right to ask the manager questions of his policy. It is all very well ignoring a recalcitrant player but Arsenal and Wenger are as culpable in this situation. Aaron Ramsey has the potential to be an excellent central midfielder but is not going to be a wide player. Square pegs don’t fit in round holes no matter how hard you hit them.

These are tough times for Arsenal. The manager has work to do.

’til Tomorrow.


623 thoughts on “Arsenal’s Problems Laid Bare At Old Trafford

  1. So, who’s organising the protest amble? Where do I find the detail? Do I need to rob the local pound shop of all the black bags they have in stock?

  2. Ivan Gazidis

    So, the guy assigned himself a bonus and put 2 mln £ in his pocket. Bonus for what? For succeeding in selling our best players to our rivals. That’s how he sees his job! Weakening the team of Arsenal FC and asset stripping. The pathetic leech should be sent to where he came from as soon as possible.

    Arsene Wenger

    Hi, Arsene. How is your buddy Alex doing?

    You are angry with Santos for swapping the shirts? You sold our best player, the captain of Arsenal FC to our fierce rivals, and now you are surprised that your players do not take the rivalry seriously? Forgotten the Pizzagate, Eduardo and our season ruined by Red Nose’ muppet McLeash, and Red Nose himself giving a call of support to Showcross after Ramsey’s broken leg? And have you already decided the destinations for Theo and Sagna? Don’t tell us its Liverpool and Tottenham please! More shirt swaps will follow.

  3. SV I have to congratulate you ,I thought I had seen stupidity at its best ,Then you take lack of understanding to a whole different level .
    You are indeed the cunt of all cunts.

  4. JJ – Just clicked on that link. I think the last paragraph hits the proverbial nail on the head nicely – “And as for fans of other clubs, they get enough enjoyment from seeing our decline on the pitch. We’ve actually had messages of support from many around the country, and offers of partnership from other groups. They tell us that the same things are happening at their clubs, with fans being taken for granted and forced out. So it’s a much wider issue, with loyal fans being pushed out in a dash for the pound note. Standing up for the matchgoing football fan is what we are doing.”

    Up and down the country clubs are trying to squeeze every ounce of revenue they can from all aspects of the business. From punters at the gate to sponsors of the team kit. And all because armchair fucking managers demand clubs spend! spend! spend! they have no problem spending the owners money or that of investors but when it comes to their own, they form a group and plan a march. How the hell do these same people expect The Arsenal to buy players in the region of $25m and up (wages NOT included) and at the same time bitch that it is too expensive to go to the games? We all know it is expensive, very much so but if you want to play the likes of Barca, AC Milan or any other top European team, then you better be willing to pay for it. If it is that much of an issue, watch the game at home and buy a ticket to watch Dag & Red, as I am pretty sure their tickets are a lot cheaper. Or Leyton Orient or whoever. But if you want to mix it up with the Big Boys, then you better step up and pay up. Simples!!

    I would really like someone like Jonny or C’Bob to go to this march, just for research purposes. And while there ask as many of these marchers as possible, who we should buy in the January transfer window, just to get an idea of exactly how much of the club’s money they are willing to spend. I do not think anyone would be surprised to hear they should buy Falcao for $40 plus million, for a start. Enjoy the march if you are going but I for one will be hoping for a really cold and wet miserable day for those attending.

  5. JJ

    Do you seriously think that any of the stated objectives will be achieved through the medium of the Arsenal Ramblers Association?

  6. SV

    You don’t actually understand how a limited company works do you?

    When you raise a valid point, do come back and put it cogently.


  7. yogi
    to be honest..
    no not really..

    it will take a few attempts before they get it right..but at least they trying

    like i said before, just dont renew..

    when they stop filling a stadium thats when they’ll get attention..

  8. Too scattergun to achieve anything. I can’t see anyone disagreeing with the ticket pricing but AISA and to a lesser extent, AST, have covered this off. To be honest, I am not impressed with BSM at all, their methods or their aims.


  9. irish
    this seems to be a common arguement ppl like to use..

    but they aint really asking for 40mil to be spent on falcao

  10. George – LOL 🙂

    JJ – Maybe not but I would hazard a bet that the majority like to spend equal time on two of the more popular bandwagons. Firstly, on not spending enough money on new players. Secondly, having players on the books who are not playing as well as we would like and we that we find difficult to move on due to their high wages. I know Torres is an extreme example but his record compared to that of Chamakh since both of their moves, is just about as successful. Minus the massive fee of 50m. And he was an established PL player too. Generally speaking, I do agree that we should up our ante when it somes to buying new talent but too many people are trying to have it both ways. But unfortunately, buying players is a very specific act and generalities do not guarantee any return when it comes to investing in new players. But I will go on record as saying that we should be looking to improve in the January transfer window. Cover for LB and CF and maybe for Diaby/Rosicky (depending on their respective injury status over the next 2 months or so) would I think be a smart move. Our outside left could also be short when Gervinho leaves for the ANC but not a major requirement if the OX and AA can provide cover/relief for Podolski.

  11. you have to bare with me here but i’m barring in mind the fact that our squad looks thread bare, barring a miracle though i cant see us doing any thing that i couldn’t bare to stand.

  12. Dukey – Would it make you happier if we brought back The Emirates Cup? Maybe you should just wait until Wednesday morning, as by then both the Chavs and City might be (as good as) knocked out of the CL, while we might be celebrating a return to winning ways. Things always look better after a win. Hell, even a well fought for draw with Schalke will suit me. So chin up Dukey, it is a long season and there is always the League Cup!! We are looking good for at least the final in that one.

  13. no not another final!! i cant take any more defeats!!

    no seriously we are only 2 points off 4th, i dont know what all the fuss is about.

  14. Irish i had a little peak at that link, cant ead it though as im too pissed but the thing that shocked me was the side story about pep wanting to mange chelsea!!! no…… isnt he our saviour!!

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