Man United vs ARSENAL (match thread)

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Post by Ravneet Singh on Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:54 pm

This is Le Grove's take on the game make whatever you want to make of it.

In yesterday’s post I jotted down a number of fears I had going into the United game.

Would Thomas Vermaelen be able to stem the individual errors?
Would Podolski give cover to Santos
Would Wenger resist the urge to play Ramsey again?
Would Theo be given a chance to show what he’s capable of?
Would the real Arsenal show up and play, or would we get another poor showing?
Sadly, what I have to report back to you isn’t good. From the moment the team sheet came out, you sensed we’d lost our bottle. The team that played against QPR was set out again. The team that struggled to break down a side who’d barely registered a win all season were fielded against a strong United line up. Aaron Ramsey, once again was given the nod in a front wide position, Podolski was given another run out despite offering very little to the team this year… we’d effectively bottled it going forward. Theo on the bench was a defensive tactical play apparently.

The game started off in confidence flattening fashion. United had the ball in their half after we’d lost possession, Podolski failed to track the run of Rafael, he bombed down the wing, cut a cross inside Santos, Vermaelen got to the ball first losing his balance in the process, he duffed his clearance as far as Robin Van Persie who buried a one touch finish past Mannone.

£24million in action…

What a shocker. Another individual mistake putting us behind in a big game. The worst part? It was predictable and it was our Captain. The guy is bag of nerves at the moment.

Arsenal weren’t quite shell shocked, but we didn’t come out of the traps. The goal didn’t force us into action, it put us into a sombre mood. We’d play the ball around the midfield when given the chance, but there was little to no movement up front. The two widemen we’d opted to play didn’t give us width and most importantly, they gave us zero pace to break with. United were controlling the pace. We weren’t interested in wrestling that dominance back.

Jack Wilshere picked up a booking for a poor challenge on Cleverly early on as well, which worried me at the time because he’s a fiery character short of fitness. That usually equates to an eruption of frustration somewhere down the line.

Robin Van Persie was causing our defence all sorts of bother. His movement was far too much for Vermaelen to handle when he surged into the box past the Belgian, he picked up the ball and fired it at Mannone who saved it, but pushed it back into the dangerzone.

Down the other end, we finally darkened the 6 yard box of United when Ramsey outpaced an injured Evra, he broke into the box and crossed, De Gea stuck a hand out but there was no one in a purple hooped shirt anywhere near it.

Our lack of pace was causing us so many problems. It rendered us impotent on the counter attack. Gone where the days when we could break in 6 seconds. The only player capable of giving us that luxury was Theo Walcott. A massive tactical error was made in leaving him on the bench. The fact we don’t have a mix of options up front is a also a huge flaw in our squad. Wenger teams are built on pace, why is this one not?

Rooney found himself in plenty of space at our back post, Sagna had gone walk abouts, he teed up a hard shot, Mannone did well to save it (where did he push it?). Again, another warning sign for our shaky back 4. The offside trap needs far more drilling.

Our best chance of the half fell to Giroud who created some space for himself from a corner, his free header went back the way it came. No where near the goal. Very weak.

United’s next best chance came when Cazorla ceded a penalty for handball. He raised his hands to protect his face from an Ashley Young cross. It was a clear penalty. Protecting your face? Please. It’s a ball, not a bullet. Rooney stepped up and smashed his shot at the post. A giant sigh of relief…

Something that infuriated me and plenty of Arsenal fans the world over was watching Andre Santos take the shirt of Robin Van Persie when they left the field of play. What the hell was he thinking? You don’t do that during a game. You don’t give an opposition player the feeling you’re hero worshipping him. Your focus should not be on what you’re going to frame and put on your wall. It should be on the game. It should be on the battle ahead. An absolutely disgraceful attitude show and a summation of how relaxed the culture of second best acceptance is at our club.

During half time I wondered what the manager was going to do to change things up. The team had no plan in the first half. The senior players were hiding and the front three were in dreadful form. Would Wenger bring on Theo? Would he make a tactical change to get more out of the side?

The answer seemed to be no. We had some nice moments of interplay, but they were few and far between. Santos whipped a cross into the box that Rio let slip between his legs, again, no one with the anticipation or instinct in an Arsenal shirt was there to follow it in. Remember Bergkamp and his gut feel of where to stand?

Wenger made a change earlier than his usual 70 minutes mark. He brought on Theo on 50 minutes, but it didn’t really change the way we played. The team were already defeated.

Cazorla slips Giroud in who touches it one then smashed it against the base of the post. He really should be testing the keeper from that close.

Our midfield livened up, but our final ball was still very weak. Arteta looked pretty average on the field and Jack looked a million miles away form wise.

Robin Van Persie broke our offside trap and found himself in acres of space, this time Vito earned his money tipping the shot wide superbly.Shortly after, disaster struck, Rooney curled a devilish cross into the box… Vermaelen was out jumped by Evra of all people and he finished well with his head.

Some meaty challenges started to fly in. Robin crunched Sagna and took a booking for his troubles. Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverly were both guilty of second bookable offences but the ref let them off. Then Jack stamped on Evra when he lost the ball. The red card was deserved. A moment that reminded you we’ve all been depending on a teenager with one years experience to rescue our season. A very immature act that will cost us with a suspension.

After that moment, we had nothing. There was no visible leadership on the park. There was a complete lack of know how. There was no one to rely on. There was nothing to come from the bench.

That didn’t stop us scoring at the death, Cazorla crafted some space in the United box and slipped it into the top corner. Too little too late. The points were lost. Our title challenge was dead and buried. We were once again made to look average by a team who shouldn’t be that much better than us on paper.

Concluding thoughts…

Wenger’s time as an elite manager is over. He’s a good manager. He’ll secure the club top four this season, but he doesn’t have the winning mentality you need to excel. He’s out of ideas, his tactics are old fashioned and he doesn’t have it in him to adapt. The worst part about yesterday was watching the lack of desire. The players aren’t playing for him. There was so much individual talent on show, but no one wanted to work for their money.

Why are we benching our in form player? Theo Walcott is 23 years old, he’s hardly played all season, he’s just scored a hat-trick and he was the only player in our side who could give us pace. Instead, we opt to play a poor central midfielder in his place who has yet to put in a decent performance all season. If Arsene was so desperate not to play Theo. Shouldn’t he have considered Eisfeld instead? At least we know he can pace a create space with his movement. It was a tactical disaster.

Why when things are clearly not working for the side do we not make changes? Shouldn’t Wenger be able to alter the formation to give us a different look? We were painfully predictable. Our passing was patchy and off colour and we look so distinctly average it was quite upsetting. What’s happening in midfield at the moment? Why do we look constantly overwhelmed? Why are we persisting with a front three who don’t move for the ball? Where is the plan? Where is the direction?

The worst part about the whole set up is that the decisive factor in the game was a £24million United acquisition that came from us. We’re boasting £70million of uncommitted funds in the bank and we have no striking options outside a guy struggling to settle. Whereas United have our exCaptain who buried our title hopes. There’s something seriously wrong there. We have a manager who is the highest paid in the leauge and we have a Chief Executive who profits from the sale of players. If that’s not a cocktail for on-going averageness, then I don’t know what is. Wenger doesn’t profit directly from player sales, but it doesn’t take a genius to see the altruistic nature of the unspoken agreement that seems to be going on at the top at Arsenal.

For me, the club need to make some important changes at the end of the season. Will it happen? Probably not. Why? Because we’ll make the top four again. No teams below have improved enough to wrestle that accolade away from us. We’ll have Chamberlain and Rosicky back in a few weeks, Gibbs will follow (Diaby apparently is at least a month away). We’ll find a bit of form, there will be a false dawn that we’ve cracked it, but we won’t have. Wenger is flat out of ideas and he has too much power. Until that is addressed, we’ll never progress forward and we’ll continue along the same cycle of losing our best players year after year.

This whole Theo Walcott saga is ridiculous as well. We’re not playing him at the expense of success which is really dim. Apparently it really isn’t about money for him. He wants to stay with the club and it’s genuinely about where he’ll be played going forward. That’s good to know, but whenever Wenger is backed into a corner, you generally know what the outcome will be. He doesn’t like being told what to do.

I also heard through the grapevine that Pep Guardiola and his people have let it be known that they’d be very interested in taking up the Arsenal project next summer. If there was ever a better opportunity to part waves with a manager who has once again demonstrated his ineptitude to guide Arsenal on to greater glories, it’s that one right there. The structure of the club needs a total rethink. The CEO needs to be the most powerful man at the club. The set up needs to be more flexible.

I’ve spoken about accountability with the player a lot over the past few years. The serious lack of accountability lies with the manager if you ask me. He earns a huge amount of money. He’s the highest paid person at the club. Why don’t we tie his pay to winning trophies? What about offering him a £180k a week if he wins the league? Would he take that? Doubtful. By not spending money and keeping the club in profit, he ensures he’ll never be removed. The club don’t need to give Wenger a big budget to spend each year because he can keep them in the Champions League on a small one. Shouldn’t the manager be pushing for maximum funds to kick a club on? Should he be accepting the CEOs analogy of football transfers not being like a supermarket when plenty of other clubs prove the opposite?

Where is the incentivisation for winning? But more importantly, shouldn’t that drive to be the best come from within?

Arsene would never spend £80million in a summer because it would mean he’d have to be accountable. It suits him the way things are at the moment. That’s a very precarious position to put yourself in. We can look to the better days when new commercial revenues come in, but things won’t change then either. How much more flush with cash can you be than £70million? We need to accept that being 3rd or 4th best is going to be the norm until there is wholesale change at the club.

Yesterday’s half time shirt incident summed up our club, happy to be second best…

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Post by John Foxall on Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:32 am

Was Wenger ever an elite manager?

Think about the struggles he had in Europe. He took years to work out how to play. Almost a decade in fact.

Of course his record with signings is getting worse. His record as a manager was always closely linked to the quality (or potential at least) of his signings.

A player like Santos is just a stinker. The reason he's at a club like Fenerbahce in the first place is because he's a poor professional. Probably not a very good trainer, more interested in partying than working hard and doesn't look after his weight. A decent footballer but neither a class attacker nor a genuine defender. Good for Brazil or for a lesser European league but not a good enough player.

Surely SOMEWHERE in Europe there was a better player available than him?

That's presuming that we start looking early enough in the summer...

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Post by jason.mandryk on Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:23 am

After about three minutes, I kept going back to this statement which irked many in the summer but now appears to be completely justified:

"As announced earlier this year I had a meeting with the Boss and Mr. Gazidis after the season. This was a meeting about the club’s future strategy and their policy. Financial terms or a contract have not been discussed, since that is not my priority at all.

"I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.

"Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.

"I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract. You guys, the fans, have of course the right to disagree with my view and decision and I will always respect your opinions."

Yesterday, RVP couldn't have been proven more right.
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Post by John Foxall on Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:38 am

Well that was always the elephant in the room.

RvP played like a rolls royce last season. He didn't want to finish his career with one FA cup medal, so he had to move clubs. The you guys part of his statement was ill-judged, but didn't make a huge difference.

We needed to be signing players like Cazorla and Mertesacker two or three years ago when their quality could have been added to that of Cesc and RvP.

However he did it, RvP was desperate to get away because it's groundhog day at Arsenal, probably even more so if you have the quality of RvP and Cesc and you're playing with lesser players around you.

The choice of Man Utd hurts, but the reason that Wenger sanctioned it was probably because it would be ridiculous if yet another Arsenal player moved to Man City. In doing so they've committed another howler though.

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Post by nick t on Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:32 am

United had our number. We barely had the ball in the attacking third because their midfield played a high line and contained us near the mid line. One of our continuous problems have been a lack of movement, and with United pressing high, it was absolutely essential to move into the open space they left behind, and it didn't happen. There were a couple of times we had a break, but saw missed crosses/passes and a horrendous Santos cross.

This game was more on the players than Wenger. The only criticism I have of Wenger is that our gameplay is still predictable. EVERY team knows how to defend against us, and we see our players trying to attack the middle, but then panic and pass it toward the side line and cross it in, which would be fine if we had more than just Giroud in the box.

What we're missing the most from RVP was his movement in the box and how he could be picked out so easily to pass to for a scoring chance. Now, we're having two guys standing next to each other on the 18, way too easy to defend. I don't think we've had that many great scoring chances in the box that have come from holding possession and playing the Arsenal passing game. Arteta has been showing us frustration when he looks up to pass, he needs to speak up a little more as he is vice captain.

I like to be the optimist, but unless the players get a kick in the arse, Schalke away could be ugly. And quite frankly, we've been told that players like Gibbs, Diaby, Rosicky, and Oxlade-Chamberlain should have returned already from injury. Gibbs had a big chance to play against QPR, Chamberlain was 60-40 for QPR and wasn't on the bench against united, Diaby was supposedly 3 weeks from October 3. Ridiculous

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Post by pwoodman1 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:58 am

TV won't be dropped simply because we have no one better Kos has been at best inconsistent this season then we are left with JD, Miquel and God forbid Squid, his poor performances have also happened since Santos has been playing next to him which suggest his lack of confidence in Santos.
What ever happens in the next game I just hope Santos isn't playing but I have an idea Wenger will stick with him.

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Post by Hisham El Mawan on Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:20 am

Mario Leontiou wrote:
Hisham El Mawan wrote:Our next fixtures are Fulham (H), Spurs (H), Aston Villa (A), Everton (A), and Swansea (H). If we're to even compete for a Champions League place, we need at least 12 points out of this. But to be honest, I'm expecting all 15. This team needs to fucking step it up, and soon.


Expecting or wanting/hoping? Expecting 15 points from those is a bit confident. The way we're playing we'll do quite well to get 10. 2 of those teams are above us in the table and Fulham are level with us.

I admit, it's more like wanting. But I don't think teams being above us in the table is an accurate way to gauge whether or not they're better than us at this point (except for United, City, and Chelsea). I still think we can beat all five of those teams, and I'm sure we've had one of the harder beginnings to our league schedule out of all the EPL teams.

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Post by ralph avedikian on Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:28 am

Blaming Santos for TV's poor form isn't right. If I was playing left back he should have cleared the ball well enough for RVP's goal. Plus, he is the captain so he shoudl take a bit of responsibility...maybe give Santos a bollocking..i don't know. I don't care if he is the captain, he should be dropped for Schalke at least. He has a strong personnality so dropping him will only make him wake up and play better.

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Post by pwoodman1 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:04 am

I'm not blaming Santos totally but having him alongside TV won't help his confidence and dropping definitely won't help either.
People also seem to forget even with TV in "poor form" we have one of the best defensive records in the league better than all of the teams above us, It's creating and scoring chances we are struggling with

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Post by Vanig Bostanian on Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:21 pm

Choosing TV as our captain was always a mistake. He shouldn't be an automatic starter as he isn't even our best center back. If I were Wenger I'd give Koscielny a run of games to get it going and drop Vermaelen for a while. I don't care if he's captain.

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Post by Jenks1981 on Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:33 pm

I agree with Vanig and think Arteta would have been a much more sensible option as Captain when the decision was made.

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Post by Michael Foster on Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:34 pm

I too thought at the point arteta would have made a good captain......

See the thing is almost everbody was shouting for tv to get the captaincy I too was one,it seams to have not worked out big time and no coincidence that his bad performances of have flowered since...leads us to the big question will it continue and will he continue to wear the arm band and the answer is.....

Yes,no way will Wenger think of passing on the armband to say arteta because of this downfall and yet neither will anything improve until the verminator sorts out his ability to lead and play...

Either way we are stuck.....
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Post by Mike York on Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:14 pm

Dropping him for a few games would be a good kick up the butt and show the squad no-one, not even the captain, can get away with bad form. But taking the armband away from him so early would be a huge slap in the face and a very big decision (potentially with a lot of repercussions). He captained Ajax and Belgium before Arsenal and at a young age so managers/players obviously believe he is a good leader whether the fans see it or not. I'm confident TV will be at Arsenal for a good few years yet (26 isn't old) so I'm willing to give him more time as captain, he just needs to get out of this bad patch of form.
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Post by Vanig Bostanian on Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:21 pm

He was stripped off the captaincy from the Belgian national team for some reason, not sure if it was the injury that caused it. Kompany is the captain now.

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Post by Mike York on Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:32 pm

Yeah that change-over happened when he was injured for ages and was away from the team. And in fairness Kompany is one of the world's best CB's and seems a very good leader at City.

In terms of consistent form Arteta would be the obvious captain role. But personally I've always preferred captains who get passionate and shout at team mates when they do stuff wrong (Adams, Sol, Vieira etc) over the captains who are more quiet and are captain based on how they play (Fabregas, Henry etc). In terms of personality on the pitch I'd still rather TV as a captain over Arteta. But I'm not against dropping TV on poor form, there is a reason for a vice captain role after all.
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Post by Michael Schatzky on Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:11 am

John Foxall wrote:Was Wenger ever an elite manager?


Of course his record with signings is getting worse. His record as a manager was always closely linked to the quality (or potential at least) of his signings.

A player like Santos is just a stinker. The reason he's at a club like Fenerbahce in the first place is because he's a poor professional. Probably not a very good trainer, more interested in partying than working hard and doesn't look after his weight. A decent footballer but neither a class attacker nor a genuine defender. Good for Brazil or for a lesser European league but not a good enough player.

Surely SOMEWHERE in Europe there was a better player available than him?

That's presuming that we start looking early enough in the summer...
This thread is all over the place - and I'll contribute to it !
For me the LB situation /Santos signing and that period last year post 8-2 loss is the indicative of the shambolic mismanagement Arsenal have suffered through.
Clichy sold -okay reasonable decision.
Relying on permacrocked Gibbs as starter -hmmmm a little worrying.
Armand Traore as backup LB deemed not good enough sold on to QPR. Good decision.
Jose Enrique available from Newcastle for 5 million. No !! Do Not Buy!
Sign sexy, unheard of Brazilian from Fenerbahce for 6 MILLION among flurry of panic buys before transfer window closes...turns out he has always been listed as "winger" and can't defend.
What a bunch of bollocks.
Remember how much we used to make fun of Traore /live in fear he might have to play ?
Would've been better if we just kept him.Seriously. Or ,obviously ,bought solid unspectacular, dependable Enrique.
ARMAND TRAORE CAN DEFEND BETTER THAN SANTOS.

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Post by Jenks1981 on Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:55 am

Eboue was a better defender on either flank, than Santos, he has been a terrible signing in all fairness, should be playing at a Wigan standard club for me.

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Post by Michael Foster on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:14 am

Is Wenger is the same bracket at the elite??

Simply for these reasons......

Games played 916
Games won. 522
Games drawn. 218
Games lost. 176

%win. 56.99

League Championship 1998, 2002, 2004
FA Cup winners 1998, 2002, 2003, 2005
Emirates Cup winner 2007, 2009
Voted 'Manager of the Year' 1998, 2002, 2004

And the countless years in cup runs and champions league appearances.....

The countless players he and the back room staff have created within our club..

This all on the budget we live within....

Oh and the small move of stadium...

Reasons I think and at the moment he is not...

Plan B...no not the music but more along the lines of where is it? This seams to be one problem we carry season after season...stop us playing and you halt us to a full stop..
Wenger seams hell bent on sticking to one way of style and play and yet as we see no end of times teams know exactly what to do against us and not only that but some of the calibers of players we have don't have a plan B in themselves....and yet this rolls on and on with no real say comfort in the fact Wenger is addressing it....

Motivation....seams to be a big lack of it something from the early days we seamer to have bundles of....Wenger would fight tooth and nail for ever challenge,card,decision, you name or he had an answer and idea on what to do.....now is it ol pop's is knocking on and no longer has a fight and motivation is slipping from him??.....who knows....just wish he would find it again....motivation seams to have been swapped with frustration...and who is to blame....maybe just maybe it is time to start looking around for a new gaffer...


The weekend result really fucked me off for a whole host of reasons.....
Team selection was one...why not give Theo the chance he wanted up front against united..Christ if I was Theo and handed this chance would have played the game of my life..santos.....need I say anymore.....we had options to drop tv into leftback why not?!?
Organization was a big piss off for me yet again this season....absolutly no shape to our play yet again....united were not a their best and found channels all over the park to slip the ball through..one of the major problems I beleve we have at the moment....

Granted we have now played almost all our hard away games which within good fortune should now hopfully get us on a decent run and climb the table...

Another thing....the capital one cup....this HAS to be a priority we have a bloody good shot at doing it again...even more so then when Birmingham done us in the final getting the team no matter how small this cup is in everybody's eyes it would be a huge boost for our boys to pick up some silverware and get a few people of the clubs back...it has to be marked down not just as a our 'kids' cup but every fit able willing strongest player first to land it....the next game should be a walk in the park..after that...strongest 11 please Wenger....


time to end this drought one way or another
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Post by ralph avedikian on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:26 am

Enough with the Santos criticism. Okay he was poor against man united but so was cole against Valencia too and almost every defender who plays an in form Valencia. Remember last year he was pretty good when he played 10-15 games in a row, so he is not THAT bad. TV is a bigger concern for me, at least Santos isn't a starter, whereas TV is our captain.

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Post by John Foxall on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:34 am

What do you mean enough?

There's no question that he shouldn't be in the starting line-up. It's not that he struggled, it's that he can't do the job asked of him, so he shouldn't be starting.

He did reasonably well without ever looking totally secure last year. Now he's at a low, but it's not like we haven't been warned. He was shocking in the first half against Chelsea when we won 5-3. Many other managers would have taken him off, Wenger didn't and it worked out OK. Not this time though. He's just too easy to skin. Valencia and Farfan are quick zippy players but that doesn't excuse non-existent defending.

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Post by Michael Foster on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:40 am

Enough comes when I stop having to clench everytime he is on the team sheet.....

The guy is at best an avrage player...he done ok in his first bulk of games but seriously..



No thanks..
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Post by ralph avedikian on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:41 am

Sure, I am not saying he is good enough, but come on dropping him for this game will kill his career as an Arsenal player, and the truth is we still need him, at least for this season. So let's give him a chance and support him while he is with us and when we find a decent replacement we can sell him.

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Post by ralph avedikian on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:46 am

Oh and which team has a 'decent' second choice left back? Barca have Adriano who is just as poor defensively.. Bertrand? Buttner? Rose? Even kolarov is very bad at defending but he scores great goals which kind of cuts him some slack.

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Post by Michael Foster on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:47 am

Where was his support when he asked for robins shirt like that infront of the world after the shocking half he played?!?

Nope..there are so many ways that performance and down right stupid act he did are not worthy of any games in an arsenal shirt....
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Post by Michael Foster on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:49 am

ralph avedikian wrote:Oh and which team has a 'decent' second choice left back? Barca have Adriano who is just as poor defensively.. Bertrand? Buttner? Rose? Even kolarov is very bad at defending but he scores great goals which kind of cuts him some slack.

Put it this way.....he needs to do some serious redemption....is he capable?? I don't think so....
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