The first half was all United, the relentless running of Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo was a lot to handle. United are good at mixed play, a little bit of short passing mixed up with a long ball here and then, strikers working the channels, and they had our team chasing for the first half of the first half. We don't seem to be bright starters in Europe and fell behind to a John O'Shea goal, when we left two Man United player unmarked at the back post - I'll always remember that O'Shea chip when we lost 4-2 at Highbury - and the stand in right back volleyed past Almunia, with the Spanaird nearly saving it.
It was good to have Almunia back in goal. There was an air of confidence about his play, something which had lacked with Fabianski in goal. Arsene Wenger was very much full of praise for his goalkeeper, he surely kept us in he game:
“A player who had a big game in a big game! He was excellent, top class in every sense. The reading of the game, his decision making, his sharpness. He was really top class tonight.”
Without Almunia tonight, we could have been 2 or 3 down. The keeper saving well from close range from Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez. One thing you’ll see from Almunia is that he’s quick off his line and very brave, two characteristics were very much useful today.
We really didn’t test Edwin Van Der Sar and from an attacking point of view, we really were quite inept. Adebayor was very closing marked by Vidic and Ferdinand and Diaby was very much ineffective on the left of midfield. Arsene critical of the attacking ambition, but ultimately the formation and personnel led to the performance.
“I believe that we were not dangerous enough offensively. After the first 20 minutes we thought we could do something but we were not sharp enough in the final third. Defensively we had a positive game, but we were in a position where we had to come out and score. Then United played the game they love which is counter-attack.”
I really hope we play 4-4-2 on the weekend, with Nasri and Walcott on the wings and Ade and Eduardo (or VP if he’s back) with Denilson just in front of the back four and Cesc deep… maybe it will happen, maybe we’ll do something completely different. Either way, as the gaffer says, it will be a very different game…
“It was a difficult game played at a high pace. Manchester United started stronger than us and if you look at the clear cut chances they were on top, of course, tonight. The positive is that we are only 1-0 down and we are still to play at home. I am convinced you will see a different Arsenal at The Emirates.
“I believe we still have a chance to reverse the result. Football can be like this. We could play tomorrow and you would see a different game. That is why I still believe at home we can do it. The tie is still very open. United could have regrets because they could have scored a second goal, and it is up to us to make them regret that.”
News coming out of the United camp is that they’ll be without Rio Ferdinand next week and that’s a bonus for us if true.
So, what do you think about the result? Good or bad?
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand (Evans 87), Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson (Giggs 66), Ronaldo, Tevez (Berbatov 66), Rooney.
Subs Not Used: Foster, Park, Scholes, Rafael Da Silva.
Goals: O’Shea 18.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Silvestre, Gibbs, Song, Diaby, Walcott (Bendtner 70), Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor (Eduardo 82).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Denilson, Ramsey, Djourou, Eboue.
Ref: Claus Bo Larsen (Denmark).]]>