Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, August 29, 2009, 17:15
I wrote that title as the game finished on Saturday and I’ve kept it because it’s an accurate description of the game. At the moment, football is very confusing. As a team, Arsenal have always tried to do things the right way. The proper way. We’ve concentrated our efforts on making our club a pure club. The football way. In return for our efforts, it seems that the officials, the FA and UEFA are all anti-Arsenal. I’ve got a lot to say on this whole subject and some of the points I’ll make today and some I’ll make a little later this week, but for the moment I’ll concentrate on the game.
We started with our new formation, the 4-4-3, but it was a slightly more defensive set of players – with Eduardo and Bendtner on the bench and Eboue starting ahead of them.
Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy
Denilson – Song
Eboue – Diaby – Arshavin
From an Arsenal point of view, the game was very interesting – we were clearly the better team. We dominated posession and put United to shame. The game was run by controlled by one person only and that was Mike Dean. Despite the constant fouling by Carrick and Fletcher, he allowed these fouls to go unpunished as well as without carding the United players. He was very quick to book Arsenal players and it really seemed that every decision was in United’s favour.
We had a stone-wall penalty when Fletcher took out Arshavin in the box. I have no idea what possesed the referee not to give the penalty. A clear case of inexcusable refereeing – there was no dispute. Arshavin did put us ahead from the resulting play with a sensational goal, shot from outside the area, a pinpoint shot. Arshavin brings us that type of play, he’s got a brilliant world class ability to score from outside of the area – and he seems to score in big games too. The highlight of game.
The commentators and MOTD pundits say, it should have been a penalty, but “it’s okay because he scored anyway” – that is absolute nonsense. The penalty should have been and the goal was.
The second half got worse in terms of refereeing decisions as Wayne Rooney clearly dived – clearly dived – to win a penalty. Video replays show there was no contact whatsoever. A penalty was given and that decision single handily was the most absurd decision of the game. Will UEFA ban Wayne Rooney for two games for diving. Never in a million years.
I’ll cut it short there and talk more on his later.
The penalty decision took the winds out of our game, and before we knew it, we were 2-1 down as Diaby scored an own goal. At that point, the own goal and the penalty were Man United’s only two shots on target. Ouch.
After the own goal, we went forward and tried to get the winner, Eduardo and Bendtner coming on for Eboue and Denilson. It was to no avail. United defended well. There was a controversial moment at the end of the game, when a shot from Van Persie went in for the equaliser. Gallas was offside in the build up to the game, the goal ruled out. Wenger kicked a bottle in frustration and was sent to the stands. You’ve got to watch the highlight – it’s absurd – Wenger had nowhere to go and had to stand in front of the United fans on the roof of seated area.
This is possibly the worst match report I’ve ever written – but the game for me was outside of our control. Arsene had this to say about the penalty decision:
“It will be a big difference tomorrow in the newspapers. I don’t know…I have not seen it, I do not want especially to see it. He kicked the ball to the corner flag, Rooney, and after – was he touched or not, was it a penalty or not – leave these decisions to the referee.”
And that statement shows exactly the differences between the treatment of United and Arsenal.
On the game, the gaffer said:
“I think what is the most difficult to take is that we were the better team and we lost the game. We were in front and had a chance to score the second goal and got punished on two goals. It is beyond belief. So overall I would like to keep the positives of this game because I believe that we can deal well with the disappointment of losing the game today. We have a great future and we can be a real force. But of course, it’s difficult to sort out tonight and we go home without any points.”
For reaction to this game, check out the comments on Match Day live – some very passionate and heart felt comments about the game – Fabrez summing up the game nicely in more positive manner:
Personally, I find it very hard to get over defeats like this but just judging on performance rather than result, we did well in midfield with no Cesc. We held our own so credit to the lads. It wasn’t always perfect but we played a very positive brand… and we did so at Old Trafford. Not many teams dare do that. Not many teams r that confident or even capable. Ferguson playing a lone striker at HOME shows that he knows how dangerous we can be. RvP and Arsh tried…a very spirited performance from all.
Time to compose my thoughts and think about what’s going on at the moment. I’m not a happy Gunner.