Despite not too much riding on it, today's game was a very decent game to watch and the result doesn't fully tell the story of the game itself. After losing to United twice in as many weeks, the game today showed the world that we're just as good as them on our day. We dominated the game from start to end, creating chances and playing well all round.
The pre-game talk was all about the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor and Mikael Silvestre - both supposedly suffering groin injuries - confirmed by Arsene post match. Rumours are of course circulating about Adebayor - especially with the boss saying he wouldn't stand in his way if he wanted to go and a bid came in. If you watched football focus this morning, you may have already heard a very insightful interview with Adebayor. It’s a stark reality and a sign that he’s ready to move on. Both Ade and Arsene have vent their frustration back at the fans, and whilst I appreciate there has been some negatively, it’s not right from Ade or Arsene to attack the fans. Yes, some things have been misconstrued in the media, but you can see from the interview that there is a tense feeling with the fans and the team at the moment and it’s not healthy.
Anyway, back to the game, and we went with a 4-5-1, with Denilson, Cesc and Diaby in the middle, Arshavin and Nasri on the wings and Van Persie up front – Song partnered Toure in defence, and it seems to be a theme and the end of the season away at Old Trafford. We played well and our link up play was good all round, but it is a difficult to break down United and they were disciplined in defence.
Arsene spoke after the game and had several topics to talk about.
“I believe we played with a lot of heart and desire. When we played in the Champions League I think we were inhibited a bit by the occasion – it was too big perhaps – and in the second leg we had no chance to play the game. Today we showed we have the quality. We played a lot of authority on the pitch.
“Man United like to play counter attack and I felt we were much sharper on winning the ball back but have the regret that we couldn’t score the goal that would have livened the game up – it would have forced them to come out. In the last 20 minutes they made a change to play for a 0-0.”
And today we really did show that we can match United, the home team not even having a shot on target, we had 61% possession and looked sharp all round the pitch. Arsene also talked about the feeling when United lifted the trophy.
“The hope is there that we can do. The quality is there as well and you saw that today.
“Deep down you want to be out there celebrating. They were the better team this year and congratulations to them. Let us make sure it in on our side next year. In sport things can change quickly and what we have shown today is that we have the quality to be up there. We have to keep the belief and work very hard. My team have learned a lot and we were not far. Since November we have lost just one game. We were close in the Champions League and the FA Cup, and were remarkably consistent. ”
Of course, there are many ways you could look at the season but a game like this does help you put the team into perspective.
I’ll keep it short today and leave you with this video posted on the WOA facebook page:
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Carrick, Giggs, Rooney (Anderson 90), Tevez (Park 67).
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Neville, Berbatov, Scholes, Rafael Da Silva.
Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Toure, Song Billong, Gibbs (Eboue 76), Nasri (Bendtner 69), Denilson, Diaby, Fabregas, Arshavin (Walcott 69), van Persie.
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Vela, Ramsey, Silvestre.
Booked: van Persie, Arshavin, Fabregas, Nasri, Song Billong.
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).