Manchester United Review: Brain Farts Cost Arsenal Dear

Arsenal 1 – 3 Manchester United

Classic is overstating the case. Hugely. I’m sure for the neutral it was a fantastic advertisement for the Premier League. For whoever we meet in the knockout stages of the Europa League, it was glorious to watch. At both ends of the pitch, we exposed our weaknesses for all the football world to see, magnificently.

In the end, three brain farts at the back cost us the game. Yes, the referee – who otherwise had a good game – failed to award us a penalty when Rojo tripped Danny Welbeck. At best though, it robbed us of a point. However, with our failings in front of goal, it’s a stretch to make that claim with any credibility.

Koscielny for the opening goal, Mustafi for the second, Xhaka for the third; a comedy of errors in which Manchester United’s laughter echoed around the Emirates. Football teams lose, we know that. When you’re beaten by the better side, you grin and bear it. When you beat yourself? That’s the time for a serious piece of navel-gazing by all involved.

We got the basics badly wrong. United scored with every attack; we didn’t. David De Gea deserves all the plaudits he is receiving for his performance. Two one-handed saves in particular – one in each half – were outstanding pieces of goalkeeping.

Our strikers were wasteful, there’s no other word for it. Chances came and went, each with a growing sense of foreboding. Chasing the game is never a good position to be in and I won’t fault the effort or energy expended in trying to turn the game around. Arsène likes to call everything ‘efficient’; we certainly weren’t in attack, far from it.

Parp!

Lacazette ought to have within twenty minutes of the second United goal. A flick of the studs sent the ball against De Gea’s shinpads; how he, Iwobi or Xhaka didn’t net on the half hour is beyond even Stephen Hawking.

One man not getting enough credit is Aaron Ramsey. Every analyst and commentator commented that the Welshman scuffed it but his deft touch back to Lacazette was quite deliberate and delightful. But you know, it’s Ramsey so let’s run the bloke down.

He’s not perfect but that moment was intelligent football, the sort we demand. Last night it was in short supply as our naivety got the better of us.

The mistakes in all three United goals can’t be ignored. Koscielny’s stray pass was intercepted and Kolasinac reacted too slowly to the danger. Avoidable by virtue of concentration and application. It’s not a case of players not having the talent, it’s about how they implement instructions, assess risk. The world-class players minimise the latter in defensive situations, it’s what makes the difference between themselves and international-class players.

And no amount of World Cup winners medals will explain the mistakes Mustafi made. Is his injury bruised pride? No-one else seems to know what it is, left clueless in much the same way he refused to pass the ball for Cech or Xhaka to clear properly.

The pummelling we produced, the consistent knocking at the door has merits despite the shortcoming in front of goal. United were pinned back and the pursuit of possession, the energy expended at providing the platform for attack is to be applauded.

It was 45 minutes of backs to the wall football from Mourinho. He didn’t have a clue how to stop the unceasing pressure nor did he have the personnel beyond a world-class goalkeeper.

Parp! Parp!

But as is always the case, the danger is succumbing to the counter-attack and we did for a third time with another avoidable goal. Koscielny didn’t defend Pogba’s break and allowed him to turn quickly; the cross found Lingard unmarked. Xhaka stopped running and nobody tracked the England international who tapped home.

The Swiss was hopelessly out of his depth in that situation, reduced to ball-watching as was Bellerin; it was schoolboy defending and even then, would be berated.

But it all started with cheaply ceded possession from Alexis up front. The Chilean’s leaden touch gave the ball away and we were punished. Defending begins at the front and we weren’t good enough at that.

Just as we never argued for a penalty, United didn’t contest Pogba’s red card. It was thoroughly merited, a nasty stamp on the back of Bellerin’s leg before following through onto the ankle. They knew what was coming and accepted it in quite an unusual turn of events for a Mourinho side.

Pogba is reported to have said post-match that he hopes City players get injured this afternoon. Now that’s a Mourinho player, if true.

It leaves us in fifth place. Four points from the big matches this season with ten goals conceded in the three we’ve lost. That’s an issue to be resolved with Arsène – as ever – left with a thousand questions raining in. I’m still mentally exhausted thinking sifting through in my mind where the good and bad points of yesterday lay. It is a complex match to decipher, even if simple in identifying the problems.

Finally, a Sunday afternoon playlist at Dad’s Jukebox where 2010 is the order of the day.

’til Tomorrow.

44 thoughts on “Manchester United Review: Brain Farts Cost Arsenal Dear

  1. That was a difficult game to know what to feel about it really. Not the worst defeat, and generally we played well with lots of energy and some good combinations. Sure, defensive cock-ups cost us yet again but this is Arsene’s team and doesn’t everyone understand yet that the next defensive blunder is always just around the corner? Why would we be surprised? That it was against United was a disappointment but it could have easily happened against a lesser side where we may have a better chance to turn it around.

    So, yes although we lost I oddly rather enjoyed the game, at least we gave it a good go. That we’re wasteful in front of goal is another point that is nothing new, so difficult to get too mad. I’ll just write it off as a game that highlights the good and the bad of the later Wenger era and mark time until we have a new regime that can (and wants to) coach defending and being ruthless (a much better term than ‘efficient’ IMO) in all areas of the pitch.

  2. Great post.

    >>> It is a complex match to decipher.

    I’m not sure. We played a rival at home. Their tactical plan was more clever, their keeper was better, their defence was more solid, ther attack was more ruthless than ours, and they won at ouf place. All in all, too familiar to be complex. Just another glorious defeat when a boring win would do just fine. Now, we are 5-th, when our main players have not played in Europe. When they start to, it will get worse. And two of them are leaving anyway. If you want to find positives in that, good luck. Wenger out.

  3. Nice post if a tad harsh, DeGea was outstanding, he was the difference despite Arsenal’s attempts an self harming.

    Yeah, a double stamp by Pogba, studiously ignored by the media, will his sarcastic applauding of the referees decision as he left the field make a 3 match ban into a 4 gamer?

    Definitely deliberate by Ramsey to Lacazette for our goal, I thought exactly the same, very intelligent but again ignored by the pundits.

  4. A fair write up YW. Thanks. There were some poor misses, but United did throw themselves in front of the ball on a number of occasions. Ramsey’s chance in the middle of the area being one where he looked nailed on to bury it when suddenly a United defender blocks it. Getting that many chances and not capitalising is an old problem. I remember a 0-0 against Fulham where another world class keeper put in a show and our forwards couldn’t find a way through.
    At the moment we have too many forwards who aren’t exactly great at burying the ball, with only Lacazette and Alexis really likely to finish chances. If either of those is not getting the ball, or isn’t quite on it, our attacking game goes to pot. Welbz, Iwobi and Ramsey all look like a good supporting cast, but they just don’t convert many of the chances that come to them. Players like Salah, Pedro, or even Sterling stick opportunities like that in the back of the net.

  5. Current Man U’s keeper is better than ours. Could anyone explain what is “lucky” about this? Btw, De Gea wanted to leave to Madrid, and Man U handled that situation expertly. Compare this to our contract negotiations and transfers. At this moment of time, they surely are a better run club. The board should admit it and start thinking about possible improvenents, instead of waving with pointless metrics.

  6. I still find it difficult to believe that a “world-class”defender like Koscielny could make such unbelievable mistakes yesterday.Allowing Pogba to turn inside of him was the height of ineptitude. And what was Mustafi thinking? Balloon the ball away, young man! Otherwise, i was impressed with the game play even though we didn’t convert the chances. United were there for the taking but we fluffed our lines big time.

  7. Simply mediocrity on show.Arsenals weakness has amplified Degeas value astronomically. Credit he had a game of his life.But he was comfortably protected by a team determined to defend and score on counter attacks. It’s high time Wenger started resting PeterCech. It’s a shame but in truth Cech is culpable for some of the goals we conceed. we hope and pray Wenger respects his contract at end end of season and he goals.
    I would rather watch a boring game and earn a point than entertain pundits while loosing.

  8. Xhaka! Xhaka! Xhaka! I’m just wondering how many matches Xhaka has cost us since he joined Arsenal through loss of concentration, giving balls away at critical points of the pitch or through ball watching when proper action is expected of him as a defensive midfielder. Or is he really our defensive midfielder in the mould Kante, for Chelsea, Fernandinho for Man City or Matic for Man United? As far as I’m concerned if we need an attacking midfielder who can pass the ball, we already have a better one in Mesut Ozil, surely not Xhaka. So with Ramsey and Xhaka pairing our central midfield we have two attacking midfielders and no real destroyer and that poses a great problem for Arsenal. What it means is that Arsenal must go out there and buy a real destroyer who can break up our opponents’ attacks. That is what we are seriously lacking at the moment.

  9. SV

    Not sure they handled it ‘expertly’. The only reason he isn’t at RM now is because they narrowly missed the deadline for the paperwork. And they suffered for a season when De Gea’s form dropped. Looks like he’s off so they gained two seasons at best.

  10. It was an entertaining game. Very exciting.

    However, we got stuffed. This is an ever present risk with modern Arsene’s Arsenal. It always seemed likely that they would get another chance and score.

    Absolutely pointless spending most of the game attacking if you never learn how to defend. This is not an Arsenal side that will consistently outscore the opposition.

    Nor, in this instance were Utd much good at defending anyway. They were clinical in attack though. We weren’t, by any stretch of the imagination.

    We flattered to deceive. Simply not good enough.

  11. Concise post YW. Pogba has gigantic back pockets. Kos and Mustafi were placed in one each and instructed not to move.

    Pogba knows the strengths and weaknesses of Kos exceptionally well.

    Xhakia I have said previously that he’s not the type of player we need for this position. He has lack of pace, lack of athletic ability and being so one footed is not suited to this Arsenal team.

    We possess nobody of the ilk of Kante, Fernandinho. Until we address this issue it will continue to be swings and roundabouts.

  12. I am United fan, and I am not here to brag, but to give you a different opinion.

    Guys don’t moan too much. Be realistic. You were simply second best. Murinho’s tactics and marking worked perfectly, and unfortunately for you, United were clinical today. Arsenal were pressurised into making defensive mistakes. United studied your play from the back and make sure they did something about it

    If United did not stop and sat back after 2:0 it would been even worse for you. For all Arsenal’s chances and posession United looked like scoring every time we went forward.

    You could not even take the advantage of a massive gift from the referee -Pogbas red card. That was harsh, because Pogba did not tackle Bellerin. It was Arsenal player who deliberetly left his leg behind in an unnatural position. Even Ian Wight agreed that Pogba was only trying to flick the ball before crashing on Bellerin.

    As for the penalties, the Wellbeck’s one was a stone wall penalty. Smalling’s one would have been harsh as he stupidly challenged after the danger was gone. The ref decided to even things up and not give them simply beacuse of Pogba’s red card and failure to send of Koscielny when he fouls Lukaku as the last man. And yes I agree with you that Referees in EPL are pretty, pretty bad! In fact awful!

  13. Excellent stuff Yogi on the back of a very difficult defeat.

    Plain and simple our defenders in particular our CB’s let us down and Xhaka for as much as I like what he brings defensively at times he switches off and we get punished.

    De Gea was the difference, he came up with 3 or 4 absolutely world class saves and when he didn’t the cross bar saved him. His double save on Lacazette and Sanchez is a save only he Buffon and Neuer (maybe the Milan GK but for sure those first 3) and that was the difference. The real shame is that some of our other chances fell to the wrong players like Ramsey (his touch to Lacazette was sublime more of that less of everything else), Welbeck, Iwobi. Sead and Bellerin had a chance each that another day against most GK’s goes flying into the net.

    I know I might be in the minority but for everything that good Ramsey does, it doesn’t always work because he is in the box and on the counter you want you midfielders to stop and leaving Xhaka alone doesn’t work.

    I also think the subs didn’t add anything as Giroud just seemed to be in the way and not one of his passes found an Arsenal player, Iwobi didn’t seem to catch up to the tempo and intensity of the match and Welbeck offered very little. I thought Jack would have been perfect to add that bit of something along with Ozil.

    One thing is clear though, we need a CB who can deal with thr physicality and fight because Kos has always struggled in that department and as his Achilles and age push on it won’t get better.

  14. While I am frustrated there were loads of good and I want to give a mention to Ozil who constantly kept pushing and driving us forward and its not being mentioned but he chased Pogba from their box to our box and stopped a sure counter by slowing Pogba down.

    Lacazette in all aspects of a striker is worlds better than anything else we have. Hold up play is brilliant link up play is equal

  15. By the day after a disappointing loss I have usually recovered my equilibrium and rationalised what happened, but what is there to say?

    Apparently we had 75% possession — [good stuff]; we had 33 shots, with 15 shots on goal — [very nice] — but with only 1 goal to show for it.

    All very positive and shows that we did not do too badly, especially as two very clear penalties were turned down — but at the end of the day — we bloody well lost.

    Poor old Kozzer is clearly carrying that chronic injury, and in terms of pace instead of running at Warp Factor 10, he is struggling at Warp Factor 4 (and a bit). That is the only explanation that sums up what happened to him when Pogba decided to run pass him, stop, run around Kozzer twice, do a summersault and then pass with his left buttock for Lingard to tap the ball in.

    Our attack looked great at times, but should have converted some more of the chances we had, but we need to look at the mid-field and the back five for an explanation of why some of them let us down.

    Come on Mr Wenger — our CBs are poor – our midfielders are too slow — so what are you going to do about it — apart from nothing?

    Need some help spotting good replacements? Give our man, C, a call and he will help you out — but what about starting with the purchase of Van Dyke?

  16. We know the ‘rope a dope’ that Moaninho always employs against us – almost always works – yesterday ‘felt’ like the closest that we have got to getting a result….

    Mistakes as a result of their high press ? All three very avoidable.

    Admittedly I had a few Guineses – could we have reasonably had 3 penalties – one fairly early when Lacazette was wrestled around the neck and two right at the end ?

  17. Depressing. New manager required urgently. If Arsenal had been managed by Mourinho yesterday the result would have been different. Van Bronckhorst in by this summer please.

  18. HenryB,

    Arsene should give me a call but lucky we have Mislintat and Sanllehi so there is hope (though I would gladly accept a call and even a job 🙂😁).

    This is where they need to show their worth and Arsene needs to either step out the way or listen to Mislintat as far as scouting, give him a list of players and let Mislintat and Sanllehi do their thing to bring in midfielders and CB’s. I would gladly have Van Dyke.

  19. George Strettford,

    Actually, I think that most on here have acknowledged that you deserved to win. Our concern is our own club. Couldn’t give a todos about Man. Utd or that horrible manager of yours.

    Good luck to you with him.

  20. The doom and gloom merchants on ACLF are having a field-day.
    Not only did we lose a game of football we might easily have won but England have already lost ONE wicket in the Test in Adelaide. Their cup runneth over. 😉

  21. Good Morning, Guys,

    Having a quick look thru the comments yesterday there was an inevitable air of disappointment — enough said, really.

    The one that caught my eye was some Manure fan at 3:27 who having convinced himself, in footballing terms, that the sun rises in the West and sets in the North, then tried to convince us that Bellerin deliberately and artfully laid his leg out in precisely the spot where a 14 stone player running at full pelt could land on the knee area of one leg, and stand on the ankle of the other.

    Bellerin should have had the red card for such disgraceful antics that could have ended his own career but more importantly inconvenienced poor old Pogba, the loon.

  22. Nicky, @ 9:03

    Please stop these pointless, and frankly unpleasant, attempts at sarcasm. You are better than that — or should be.

  23. Damon,

    Commentary here was pro-follow on with it being so hard under lights but then rowed back after Overton partnership

    Only Jimmy left to get 16 and not give them the choice!

  24. Not enforcing the follow on then. Probably a let-off for England, I know their bowlers might like a rest but I could have seen an innings defeat if they had done so.

    An there in lies the answer to the question about why all the doom and gloom – because it’s so predictable.

  25. Morning, Andy,

    I am not sure that you are totally correct – “that there in lies the answer to the question about why all the doom and gloom — predictability”

    It is more likely that there are fans who, as part of their personal make-up are optimistic — and others who are, for the same reason, naturally pessimistic — and ne’er the twain will meet. 🙂

  26. HenryB,

    Indeed. Sadly however the pessimists seem to be proven right far more often than not 😉 (I’ve stolen Nicky’s trademark wink again).

  27. HenryB,

    Maybe.

    Or some people look at a large (as Bill would say) sample size and start to notice patterns. Some people use them to predict that as nothing has really changed, the same thing or similar will probably happen again.

    On the other hand, there appear to be a group of people who choose to ignore fairly obvious patterns, cross their fingers, stick their fingers in their ears, shut their eyes, go LALALALALALALALALA and hope for the best.

    A very small and myopic group within that second group then berate the first group for being right and calling it as it did occur, after the event and then chastise them for not being more like them.

  28. Damon,

    There is a third option

    The variable is around expectations

    A pessimist who expects us to be champions every year is likely to be disappointed and frustrated every year

    An optimist wants to be competing but recognises the competition and can be happy with any silverware

    😉

  29. Whoa, slow down fellers,

    It was not my intention to set any hares running by trying to rationalise why some fans think one thing and others another.

    I have no idea what proportion of fans (and I think we are all human beings too 🙂 ) are naturally more pessimistic or more optimistic, and to add to that there is probably another group who are neither particularly one or the other.

    Personally, I think all fans should be able to blog their thoughts, whatever they may be, otherwise things can take a nasty turn, which suits no one.

  30. Arsetralian,

    Agree, but will also point out that I didn’t suggest that in outlining two possible groups of people that at no point did I say I’d exhausted the list 😉

  31. Arsetralian,

    Wouldn’t it be the optimist by definition that expects us to be champions every year, And surely the pessimist would expect us to fall short? So the pessimist will not be disappointed and the optimist would be.

    Not that I’ve come across a single Gooner who expects us to be champions every year.

  32. Andy,

    (1) One of the definitions of an optimist is someone who hopes for a successful conclusion.

    (1 B) A pessimist might say that only an optimist would always expect a successful outcome.

    (2) One of the definitions of a pessimist is someone who always sees and expects the worst in everything.

    (2 B) An optimist might say that a pessimist is always happy when the worst happens – proving him right.

    Anyway, I hope there is room for all of you – but I expect it will end in tears. 😀 😀

  33. In case you could use a laugh today…

    Remember, it takes a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school diploma to fix one; a reassurance to those of us who fly routinely in our jobs.

    After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a ‘gripe sheet,’ which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.
    Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.
    By the way,UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.
    P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
    S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

    P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
    S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

    P: Something loose in cockpit.
    S: Something tightened in cockpit.

    *P: Dead bugs on windshield.
    S: Live bugs on back-order.

    P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200-feet-per- minute descent.
    S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

    P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
    S: Evidence removed.

    P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
    S: DME volume set to more believable level.

    P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
    S: That’s what friction locks are for.

    P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
    S: IFF is always inoperative in OFF mode.

    P: Number 3 engine missing.
    S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

    *P: Suspected crack in windshield.
    S: Suspect you’re right.

    P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
    S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

    P: Target radar hums.
    S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics..

    P: Mouse in cockpit.
    S: Cat installed.

    And the best one for last

    P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.

    S: Took hammer away from midget.

  34. Orson Kaert,

    Thanks OK, very amusing.

    My first job was as an aircraft technician at Stansted – four year indentured apprenticeship (not like those mamby-pamby so-called apprenticeships you get these days 😨) and college to do an ONC and HNC. Had all the usual pranks (go get a sky hook, rainbow paint etc) but remember one typically British occasion when the guys went on strike because it was minus something degrees in the hanger, only they forgot to tell me (I was in a wing sealing leaks in a fuel tank, an ideal job for a small person). Came out an hour later and wondered where everyone had gone….

    Also remember falling off a wing while sweeping snow off a 737 – you have to have a sense of humour in that job.

  35. We were not clinical in front of goal coupled with shabby defence which cost us the match. Had we got a result, it would have been my favourite performance from an Arsenal team in recent times. United defended with 11 men and were decisive in front of goal, but will definitely be worst than Crystal Palace (no disrespect) should De Gea leave.

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