Monday, August 31, 2009

A good performance but a bad result, and last minute transfer thoughts.

It was a tough game to take on Saturday. On seeing United's line-up I immediately felt we could win the game - Nani, Valencia, a fading Giggs, O'Shea, Carrick, Brown: these were players we could beat.

And so it initially appeared. In the opening half we dominated the game and deserved to go in ahead at the break.

It was a moment of pure magic from Arshavin that gave us the lead - a shot so pure that the ball barely deviated, but was still too much for Foster to deal with. Of course, we should have already been ahead after Fletcher completely took Andrei out in the box. But this being Old Trafford, why should we be surprised? I'll never forget the way we were cheated in 2004, and so seeing officials being so blatantly swayed in United's favour is just par for the course up at The Theatre of Dodgy Decisions.

The real turning point in the game, in any case, was van Persie's miss early in the second half. Arshavin brilliantly carved open the United defence and cut the ball back towards van Persie who had cleverly dropped off his man to give himself space for a shot. Foster stuck out his leg and made a superb reaction save, but Robin should have buried it; there can't be any excuses from missing from that position, especially at such a crucial moment in the game.

I don't think Robin has played poorly so far this season, but he hasn't scored, and if he's handed chances like that he has to score. I said earlier in the week that it doesn't matter who's scoring, as long as someone does. I still feel this is true, but in the big games you have to be clinical; you can't squander chances.

2-0 at that point would have won us the game, I'm sure. But instead we contrived to self-destruct in the most painful way possible.

If there's blame to be attached, then, unfortunately, the majority has to fall on Almunia. He hasn't started the season particularly well, as evidenced by the goal we conceded against Pompey. What he thought he was doing trying to claim the ball when Rooney was a) running away from goal and b) Gallas was already dealing with it (!) is anyone's guess.

Was it a dive? Rooney was certainly going down before Almunia touched him, but, unlike Boruc, he didn't have the nous to pull away to show that Rooney was diving. Being that he's English this is, of course, merely 'Clever play'. A soft, soft penalty, and one that could have been easily avoided.

Almunia also has to take his share of the blame for the second goal. Yes, it was Diaby who was mainly at fault, but I think Almunia's indecisiveness earlier in the match, and his inability to dominate his area had sowed confusion in the defence. Given how strong Almunia looked at the end of last season, it's a shame he seems to have slightly regressed. Here's hoping he can pull it together over the international break.

My major disappointment was our rather limp response to the second goal. We seemed to leave it too late to try and re-take the lead, and had it not been for hilarious misses from Nani and Berbatov we could well have ended up losing 3-1. The final humiliation was the ridiculous decision to send Arsene to the stands amongst the Mancs who yet again showed themselves to be a bunch of classless idiots through their repeated insistence of singing that song. Given Ferguson had the gall to complain about our fans 'abusing' him a few years back, I find it incredible that United have never faced any sanction over this song, or that the club doesn't try and do anything to stop their fans from singing it in the first place.

So, a weird one, in all. An absorbing encounter that I thought we deserved to win, but ended up taking nul points from. I just hope that the boys use this game to develop a sense of righteous injustice to spur them on, instead of just mentally collapsing, again.

As I write this there's about 28 hours of hte transfer window left. Will we sing anyone? Maybe. Given Senderos looks like staying, I'm not sure we need another centre-back - Phil is an acceptable second string player. The area we do need strengthening is in central midfield, namely a player who can provide cover for Alex 'soon to be the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League' Song.

The only signing that looks on the cards, atm, is Chamakh but I'm not convinced he's what we need.

Whatever happens, it's not going to be intense as during the last transfer window, so it's probably best that we all just go out and enjoy the bank holiday and hope for the best. The squad if fundamentally sound, so let's not get silly if we don't sign anyone.


Anonymous said...

Spot on about Almunia - don't forget the gaffe in Hungary.

The only thing I disagree about is that he played well at the end of last season. What about the free kick he conceded against Ronaldo? He had a decent 45 minutes up at OT in the CL 1st leg, but other than that he has been what he always has been - an average keeper lucky to be playing at this level.

We could add 10 points to last season's tally just by adding a decent keeper.

One clean sheet in five games this season says it all - it's fine when you score lots, but we won't do that every game and your keeper is the man who gets you those 1-0 wins which Arsenal just don't get any more.

Anonymous said...

I think RVP is the biggest problem at Arsenal. No doubting his commitment and love for the club but 4-3-3 doesn't suit him, he is too clumsy to play in that position. Also because RVP takes too many touches and can't link with Arshavin, our attack looks blunt. AA is our best player by a country mile and we should build around him, not RVP.

Anonymous said...

what abount

Anonymous said...

We don't need a backup for Song, Denilson can be that man. What we need is a backup for Cesc. He leaves a big hole in the midfield right now. Van Der Vaart comes to mind.

Gooner4life&beyond said...

David James is just as prone to mistakes as Almunia, not much of an improvement and he's 40. Chamakh looks like a good player to me, better than Bendtner (not that Bendtner is crap). Only thing is I haven't seen him do a holding role as the striker so not sure if he gives us more options, should prove to be an improvement though, which is always welcome.

Anonymous said...

Spot on!!

New Keeper needed!!

ACN z n January rit?? so Wenger might buy a DM n Jan!!

RVP should learn 2 bury his chances ant not 2 hit d bar so often with his free kicks!!

Unknown said...


Arsene, has a wonderful record when it comes to selecting players from the french league. If he wants Chamakh, than Arsene has done his homework and knows what this chap has to offer the club.

thezha said...

I have been criticizing Diaby for years now, and today I have seen enough, and no, not for this unacceptable mistake in a crucial game.

Ignore all the hypes in media, Diaby does not resemble Patrick Vieira in anyway. He takes too many touches on the ball and has the vision of a blind Bat. On a rough count, in Saturdays match, he has lost possession on at least 10 times in the midfield (not the final third), all because he takes too many touches. He dribbles for the sake of dribbling, and completely destroys the flow of the passing game. This is the premiership, not La liga, no one can hold on to the ball for that long, lets face it, he is no Requilme.

In the last five minutes, there were a few occasions, we regained possession. But every time, the camera turns back from the replay, ManU had the ball again. I mean what the fuck, I don't know who lost the ball, but I have a good feeling that it was Diaby.

Anyone feels the same way about him?

King Richard said...

If Wikipedia is to be believed then Matuidi is set to join us:

Anonymous said...

Good summary and agree with most your points but take adifferent view to the team. I actually think we could do with Chamakh, Van Persie isn't that great through the middle, we need a specialist, Van Persie was admittedly very good at old trafford but would rather see him on the right wing with the big guy up top, our right wing options arent great either.

I also think its folly to trust Senderos in any way shape or form.

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