United Review: Progress Comes At A Price

Manchester United 2 – 2 Arsenal

It says much about how far we’ve come this season that the draw at Old Trafford left me disappointed. That we shot ourselves in the foot for the second equaliser deflates my mood more than Herrera being offside for the United opener. Neither sides’ defence comes out of an error-strewn game with any credit and nor do the officials.

Twice we led; twice we threw the points away within minutes which is a turn of events that will infuriate Unai Emery. While the failure of the officials to spot the dive and offside give rise to complaint, there is more to be concerned about our slow reactions. Herrera’s cross seemed to pass us by in slow-motion; maybe it was the car-crash inevitability of what was coming that slowed the action as I watched on?

Not that the second United goal is any easier to watch. A lazily heavy touch from Kolasinac pushed the ball into Lingard’s path and gave the midfielder the advantage over the sluggish approach of Leno. 2 – 2 within a minute of going ahead.

On the touchline, Unai Emery went from a joyous ‘WTF happened there’ look from Alexandre Lacazette’s goal to a baffled ‘WTF happened there?’ look.

Meanwhile, Andre Marriner – who else – missed so many incidents or wilfully ignored others. Five yellow cards in five minutes isn’t an official who is in control. Not dismissing Rojo for careless, reckless and dangerous play as he followed through studs up was typically appalling officiating. Not dismissing Fellaini for stopping Guendouzi by pulling his hair was just baffling.

Yes, a professional footballer committed a foul by pulling an opponent’s hair. What kind of moronic, cowardly thought process took place there? Then again, you only have to look at his manager to understand the mentality.

I Know What You’re Thinking, Punk

There was still time for Marriner to make a monumental cock-up. David de Gea stood with the ball in one hand, Lacazette headed it from its perch without touching the goalkeeper and scored. Not so, according to Marriner. According to Keith Hackett this morning, it’s “unsporting behaviour”. WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK? It’s crap goalkeeping and diabolical refereeing.

No wonder there were no Premier League referees at the last World Cup. They interpret rules liberally and make up interpretations that no-one else sees. So often we’re told continental referees are “fussy” and too rigid in applying rules. I’d rather that than officials who aren’t fit for purpose. At least you know where you stand.

Which, I confess that now I’ve got it all off my chest, makes me feel better. And appreciative of the point. Yes, we could have taken three but positively, there was rarely any danger in none. That we thought it might happen as the game drew to a close shows the depth of the scars of previous visits to Old Trafford.

The bad news didn’t end there. Rob Holding is set for a significant spell on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury. It’s a shame for him and us; our most consistent defender thus far and beginning to realise his potential under Unai Emery.

Aaron Ramsey’s twisted ankle by contrast, is a short-term problem and one which will no doubt see Mesut Özil’s back recovered by the weekend.

So, what of the performance overall? It was decent; we weathered the opening United storm and imposed ourselves. Hard work in midfield from Torreira and latterly Guendouzi, who came into his own after the interval. Defensively, Kolasinac was hit or miss and when he reached the byline in attack, every cross he hit seemed to miss its target.

Do You Feel Lucky?

For the most part, Sokratis and Mustafi were comfortable with United’s attack. They had their moments, every team does but overall, coped with everything United threw at them. And Mustafi managed the first goal with his powerful header too much for de Gea to handle. Ahem.

The intensity of Sunday impacted on last night; there were signs of fatigue in some of the players with the exertions taking their toll. It would be no surprise to see light training taking place ahead of the visit of Huddersfield this weekend.

There are issues to deal with, however. Principally, they rest with the defending which needs tightening. It seems the issue is communication which lay at the root of the second United goal. Leno seemed to be waiting for some clue what Kolasinac was going to do; would a simple instruction of ‘clear it!’ suffice?

I know that oversimplifies the situation but watching the replays it is obvious Leno expected Kolasinac to deal with the situation. It didn’t happen to our cost.

We dropped to fifth but are a point closer to Chelsea. We’ve taken four points from six and if you’d offered that last week, I would happily have taken it. The manner of Sunday’s victory and the disappointing way we conceded last night?

It feels deflating but then you remember it’s 20 unbeaten and that is nothing to sniff at. We can see the progress made by the squad over last season and positive signs for the future.

It’s Getting Better

And it is continuing improvement as well. Games we were losing last season, we are drawing or winning. The gap to the top four is closing and while we are still some way off Manchester City, Unai Emery has been in charge for six months or thereabouts.

We know it needs several transfer windows yet for the signings to be made which will make us genuine title contenders and there’s nothing to be done about that until the windows open.

If he can bring about this improvement within a short time, what limits are there to the future? Our wallets, it seems.

’til Tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “United Review: Progress Comes At A Price

  1. Dalm says:

    Hit many of the nails squarely on the head – thank you

  2. Pete the Thirst says:

    A draw at Old Trafford is a good result. Got to be happy with 7 points from United and Bournemouth away plus Spurs at home.

    Our defence is still letting us down. Kolasinac can’t defend and would be replaced by Monreal if he was half fit. Leno needs to sharpen up.

    United tried to kick us off the park once again. The only ref to stand his ground against them was Oliver in the Cup. Marriner let them get away with murder.

  3. Sini Star says:

    We are level on points with chelski and two behind the spuds . By the weekend, we should be third when spurs and Chelsea loose . Good times are back at arsenal.

  4. Uwot? says:

    Fair comments.Andre Marriner,another shot ref.knew when we got him our chances of a win reduced dramatically.still despite his best efforts to F** k us over ultimately we shot ourselves in the foot.It happens.Zits just that you hate dropping points especially to those northern monkeys & Maureen.still,my monies on giving them a good shafting when they show up at the ems.

  5. Pete the Thirst says:

    How sh!te was Steve McManaman on BT Sport commentary last night? He made about as much sense as Donald Trump in a press conference.

    He seems to have an axe to grind against Arsenal too (Anfield ’89 maybe?)

  6. C says:

    A draw at OT 3 days after that NLD, I will gladly take that.

    I agree Yogi, it seemed like Leno was waiting for Sead to let him know. I think the one thing we need to remember about Leno is that, he is still adapting to the PL so there are things he will learn. For instance, in that situation in the Bundesliga, the defender deals with it but in the PL, GK’s need to be a bit more commanding in those situations.

    20 unbeaten is nothing to sniff at nor a fluke.

  7. Damon says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    Says a lot when a scouser will talk up a Manc side just so they can have a dig at Arsenal

  8. Limey says:

    Emery has to find a way to have Lacazette in the starting 11 – he is too good for the bench.In Iowbis position out wide would be my pick.Also Monreal and Koscielny will improve our defence,and should both be back very soon.

  9. Noon Gunner says:

    Thanks, Yogi. Some elsewhere were referring to United as a carbon copy of latter-day Stoke. I must say I was appalled watching Rojo grinning unstoppably after getting his yellow (which you rightly say should’ve been red) – he looked as though he either had a screw missing or was part of a culture where he knew his team mates and manager would later be slapping him on the back for a tackle like that. Then to see Fellaini tugging Guendouzi’s hair, as if to say “I’ve cut mine off and now look a completely different kind of tw*t, so why should you enjoy yours?” was beyond belief. But then I suppose for a true Orc that’s almost polite behaviour. (Never liked Fellaini and was horrified when there was talk of bringing him to Arsenal.)

    On the positives, I love it that, increasingly, we play full tilt for the whole game. Long may that be so! With our fitness levels we make ourselves hard to keep up with in the latter stages. Losing two to injury robbed Unai of the chance to bring on devastating fresh runners as the lung-busting first 30 mins started to catch up with everyone. I also thought Auba did some excellent defensive covering in the 2nd half, when they occasionally looked dangerous down our left.

    Not a game I enjoyed by the end, but one could call it ‘drawing ugly against ugly opposition’, and our performance to me underlined the quality against Spurs, just by not being any sort of a capitulation or reset back to dodginess. We’re all good. Will be interesting to see how Unai rotates for Huddersfield.

  10. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    It shows the progress being made when a draw makes the players look like they’ve lost come full time.

    The only time i was particular worried about them was first ten minutes but even then they didn’t create a single thing minus a long range Rashford shot. After that i feel we dictated the tempo, they’re goal shouldn’t have stood for the equaliser and the second half was again, after the first ten minutes all us. Auba should have scored, but let’s be honest, De Gea is the only reason it wasn’t 4-2 to us, when he leaves they’re going to really struggle finding someone of that quality, he’s legit an insane keeper.

    I thought they played like Stoke City of pulis age, bullied us non stop and i have to say Torriera and Guendouzi did exceptionally well, i feel this is the kind of game Matteo needed, was seemed a bit shaky at first but grew into the game and i hope he carries this forward to other games he starts because he made Matic and Herrera look like carthorses once he’d grown into the game. What a find for 7 million.

    If i had to identify what i think Emery needs, it’s a CB/LCB, Holding always looks very awkward on the left side, always having to switch back to his right foot. I feel a naturally left sided CB would help and also help Kola out as there are times he’s making runs that are snuffed out by the time Holding has switched it back to his left foot.

    An attacking midfielder because we know Ozil isn’t 1. Getting any younger 2. Doens’t look to be staying much longer 3. Isn’t that effective in all games as he should. And finally, i’d LOVE Pepe from Lille, what a player, physical, strong, extremely fast and can find the back of the net. He’d open up so much space for Laca and Auba with his pace.

    Iwobi has looked pretty jaded last month, he’s lost the form we saw in the first 10 games. He doesn’t seem to want to take players on and he’s waiting that extra second to pass which he wasn’t doing for our first games, but he’s still a good player. Bring in a winger and let competition drive him back to full form.

    We’re linked today with Suarez of Barca (not the striker), Pepe (we always are) and finally Banega again, i’d take them all in a heartbeat. If we could cut a deal with Rabiot for joining next season, we’d have one hell of a team if you consider the youth coming through like ESR, Nketiha, Willock and Nelson

  11. ferkov says:

    Great review Yogi.
    Where the fuck was Callahan? Not sure what he had against Punks. Maybe only the cowardly variety on show for Maureen’s Wankers. But he would have buried 4 or 5 of them for sure. Including Maureen for ….. anything really, but the kicking the wall pantomime was a particular lowlite in his ever blackening comedy.

    Holdings injury looked pretty serious, but will hopefully herald the identification of a CD Leader. Just saying C.
    We need 1 outstanding defender. From within ,or without.

    But even sober, I remain satisfied with the result, and elated at the Unaity. 🙈

  12. thrillbo says:

    Hello all, thanks for the write up YW. That match was out of control, and yes previously we would have been blitzed for a big loss as MANURE bully’d us around. Not anymore. Guendo looked so mobile there in midfield.. Many EPL players i see are just 1 touch and pass. Guendo gets the ball and moves it, quickly. not like ramsey style moving. Big touches and he gobbles up space when given the ball, covers ground and makes a good pass. That was encouraging to see.

    Bummed that auba stuck that last shot straight at De Gea, would have loved to squeak a win but happy with the draw. Plus fellani’s hair pull is out for the world to see, what a tosser huh? Ref was looking right at the incident and should have carded him. Must have been the jealousy like YW mentioned. Maybe he wanted to steal a tuft of Guendo hair , do some lab work and put it up on his own ugly head.

  13. Bill says:

    Great post yogi

    Happy to get a point at Old Trafford. We have certainly outperformed expections to date. Emery has done a wonderful job of building a team which is more then the sum of its parts.

    We are on an historic run of good form and still in 5th, however, we certainly look like a squad that can compete for 4th at this point and I am cautiously optimistic we can stay in the race for 4th all season. However, we still need to spend some money if we hope to compete for the top of the table. With the transfer window opening soon I hope our front office will be busy. We need another forward who can bring some endproduct. Iwobe is a nice player but he does not offer any sort of production and similar to Ox, Iwobe is not a long term solution as a starting forward. I suspect Ramsey is leaving after this season and its becoming clear that none of Ramsey, Ozil or Mkhitaryan are the answer at our attacking midfield spot. We also need a LB. Sead is a good as wingback with a back 3 but we need someone more like Nacho who is better fullback if we ever go back to a flat back 4. Our defense is still a work in progress and a really commanding CB would also be welcome.

  14. Dalm says:

    BIG Shout out as mentioned above, thanks Pete the Thirst –

    f’ing Steve Mcmanamanamanmanaman – arch T*sser – every comment was negative about Arsenal and positive about Manure & I think it was him who chose the Man of the match Matic – biased and one eyed throughout.

    That one foul in our box, anywhere else on the pitch is a red & the hair pulling FFS -on the street that is an assault…was that even a yellow?

    To be fair, gutted we didn’t win, relieved we didn’t lose, and a little sad we weren’t that tiny bit sharper that would have led to keeping out both their efforts….But then hadn’t we had a day less rest ?

    But most importantly, what a Mcmamanatw@t

  15. ferkov says:

    You’d think that a proper lightweight shrinking violet like macman.. was would be quicker to acknowledge the destructive tactics at play. Thick as shit too then.

  16. Two Owls says:

    Even with the rough house tactics employed by Manchester, which were over the top on many occasions, our team was not provoked into self destructive behaviours. I thought Guendo was absolutely amazing during this game. For one so young, he has amazing football insight.
    I still have difficulty understanding how the defending on Lacazette during his goal, was not seen as a full blown American Football League tackle worthy of a foul in the manner of a red card.

  17. Blue Yonder says:

    Being disappointed with a draw at OT is a measure of the progress we’ve made under Emery. You have to think Mourinho told his players to take a physical/dirty approach, knowing his thugs couldn’t win any other way. Fellaini looks like Bluto in the Popeye cartoons. You know, big, dark, bullying and with a small head. Still can’t get used to seeing w/o the Afro. Pin-head in more ways than one.
    Still, it was a step backward for Arsenal in many ways. Ghosts of hammerings past, perhaps, but getting a point and learning some valuable lessons is not bad. And draws don’t help MU or their fearless leader very much, btw.
    Last thought: trying to picture Ozil starting last night – not a pretty sight.

  18. Leopold says:

    What I think we need to realize is that even if refs are terrible, we should’t blame them for our mistakes or shortcomings.
    On NLD, spuds were given a penalty that was a dive, nonetheless we managed to win. In this case, there were awful callings from Mariner and we couln’t win. that’s it.

  19. Blue Yonder says:

    Just watched Ref Watch w/ Chris Foy etc and Chris confirmed (1) that their first goal was offside as a result of the player breaking into the box just before the free kick, and (2) Fellaini should have received a straight red for the hair pull. Disciplinary action still possible for Fellaini. Pin-head, indeed.

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