Great Escape still on

Man Utd 1-0 Arsenal

Remarkably, we are still in this.

If I could speak for all Arsenal fans this morning, what would I say their overriding emotions were? Probably relief and frustration.

Relieved to still be in a tie in which we were comprehensively outplayed, and frustrated that Arsenal could do nothing to hurt Utd at all.

I might be wrong, but I think we had one shot on target, a couple off, and no corners. At the other end of the pitch, Almunia was quite marvellous in keeping the score down, making two spectacular saves and keeping us in things. It says a lot that he, along with the excellent Kieran Gibbs, were our best players by some distance.

There can be no denying how good Utd were in the first half. Arsenal looked lost.

Walcott couldn’t get into the game, Adebayor was hopeless with the service he did get, the midfield couldn’t grasp the game at all. We were all at sea and to go in just 1-0 down was a blessed relief.

In the second half, we improved immeasurably, at least in terms of possession. But we still struggled to get past Utd. We were a million miles from scoring an away goal all night.

But we’re still in it, it’s only half-time and there’s a lot of football still to play. The boss summed it up neatly:

“I believe that it is advantage Manchester United. They played very well and started very strong. It was important that we didn’t concede more than one goal. We have a good chance to reverse it at home. It is still there for us to win at home and I think we will see a different Arsenal next week.”

We’ll need to see a different Arsenal next week too. Play like we did last night and it’s all over, frankly.

We’re in it still, it perfectly do-able. It would be very handy to have the nous of van Persie back, and Clichy too – though the way Gibbs played, I’m not worried about left-back at all. In essence though, the same players as last night need to find a way through United. They need to hurt them more, pressurise them, make them sweat.

Wenger’s got six days to sort out that masterplan.

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