Yours, Disappointed of London

Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal

Another big game, another defeat, and the unwelcome stat about our record against Chelsea and Man Utd can be dusted down, edited and bandied about. I’ll spare you the pain of repeating it but it doesn’t make pretty reading.

I was confident, if we played as we are capable of playing, that we would give Utd a very good game last night. We never crumbled defensively and we acquitted ourselves well physically (a little more robustly than was needed at times, even), but we were horribly toothless and in the end, nobody can complain that we came away with the mandatory nul points from Old Trafford.

It has become a familiar refrain for the fans and you have to wonder whether the same sense of fatalism when encountering these fixtures has also affected the players. We played well within ourselves from a creative point of view. No doubt Utd’s gameplan partly involved cutting off the supply lines and disrupting our rhythm at the earliest opportunity and those two things made our performance disjointed. Well it worked. We found no real way through and didn’t look like finding one.

No, they are not the best Utd team ever seen but they play for each other, they do not let up and they adapt very impressively from team to team and match to match. They are unbeaten in the league all season and while that might be a little fortuitous (we had a bit of that luck ourselves in 2004 to remain unbeaten) it also tells you that they retain the art of not losing even when not at their best.

Oh for a bit of that ourselves. We have now lost five league games and when playing below our best, it is clear to all comers that we are beatable.

At some point or other the discussion will loom as to whether this team is merely experiencing growing pains, or whether more unpalatably, too many of them are simply not good enough or lack the required mental edge to move up a level. You will forgive me for not having that conversation now.

One or two players deserve a mention of sorts. Szszesny came in for his first ever league start in the game you would least want to make your debut in and did very well. He’s a tall lad – much taller than the Flaps – and he has a commanding air about him. He was a little nervous as you might expect but given the circumstances, I thought he was superb. He made several good saves and could not be cricitised for their goal. For all that, the merry-go-round that is our goalkeeping situation cannot be doing anyone any good. I know Fabianski was injured last night (albeit not enough to not be on the bench) and will no doubt come back on Saturday, but the fact that some of us were talking about retaining Szczesny as number one on the back of one performance tells you all you need to know. Arsene, who is our number one? Who will be our number one next season?

Clichy came in for a bit of flak too (from me as much as anyone) and is another of those players who divides opinion. He looked shaky at times last night but in his defence, he had zero help from the man in front of him, Arshavin, who had a stinker of a game. I’ve defended the Russian all season but last night it was something akin to a miracle that he lasted as long as he did.

Overall, a really disappointing, but let’s be honest, not unexpected result.

We simply move onto the next game against Stoke. I don’t know what to expect from that as much as I didn’t know what to expect from last night. We could be one thing or we could be another.

All I do know is that we are still up there – eye-rubbingly, perhaps remarkably – in contention and with Man Utd & Chelsea locking horns on Sunday, we can go top of the table.

Yes, I know. It’s all a bit nuts.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Stadio Goal

    hi mate….nice blog! I would like to make an exchange of links with mine…is it possible? vist and let me know if you are interested in it…thanks…

  2. East Lower

    And I didn’t mention Song on purpose. Infuriating at the moment.

  3. East Lower

    Sorry Stadio, I prefer to stick to Arsenal only.

  4. Jeff

    I was deflated with some of Song’s giveaways in the first half. The whole first half is one I’d like to forget. Dreadful. The one thing this team can normally do well, pass the ball forward, was beyond them.

    Better from the defense though!



  5. Mark Meredith

    Was thinking – if I bring a banner saying ‘Wenger – time to leave’ to Saturday’s game, would I get criticism from fellow fans? Would the stewards make me take it down?

  6. East Lower

    That’s a good question. I suspect they would but I don’t know the answer. I think by and large people are prepared to give Arsene the benefit of the doubt but it’s undeniable that his position has come under increasing scrutiny.

    I don’t think negative banners would solve anything mind you – and I think to go that far you’d be a bit of a lone voice at this stage (at least publically).

  7. Gooner in Exile

    It was painful to watch.

    The most burning pain was our inability to put our foot through the ball at the back from the times choosing instead to half clear the ball in the hope of retaining possession, but with only Song and Wilshere (sometimes) around it kept going back to United’s more advanced midfielders.

    Seems like we don’t want to clear the ball over the heads of the opposition midfield.

    Two positives, defensively better and biggest Scezny, a really solid performance after a nervy start, surely we should leave him in for the rest of the season?

  8. Gooner in Exile

    Publically at the Emirates perhaps not on radio phone ins.

    Bringing Henry, Viera, Pires, Lungberg, Overmars to the club justify a little more time from us.

    I am concerned that he is a victim of his own loyalty to the club in the fans eyes. I’d hope if he had a pot of cash at his disposal he would use it, and that the “I’m happy with what I’ve got” line is to quell demands on the board to spend money that either isn’t there or is reserved for loan payments.

    Also the question remains as to which players (not tied to big clubs on long contracts) would improve our current team and accept our pay structure.

    The most we should demand as Arsenal fans in current financial prudence model is that they qualify for Champions League and have a run at the cups. Anything beyond that is a hope not a right.

    There is no probability in football seasons the slate is wiped clean every season to expect a trophy is media talk which “some” Arsenal fans are buying in to.

    We have had to rebuild from scratch after the Invincibles reached the end of their peak without having huge cash reserves it has had to be done from cheap overlooked talent and promising young players.

    The one thing that hasn’t happened for us is every player reaching top form together, if that happens we can fly, if it doesn’t happen this season or next then I will perhaps ask Wenger to leave. Until this side reach maturity and the flood of young players loaned out amongst the championship can be mixed in we can judge Wengers “project” then.

    And would any other team survive without their first choice Centre Back, Centre Midfielder (and captain) and Centre Forward?

    Have a look over the West of London to see how Chelsea have coped without Terry and Lampard.

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