Let’s trackback to last year when Man United came to the Emirates and basically swept us aside and won the game 3-1. Well, let’s move forward to yesterday and we were definitely better than we were the previous year, but the same fallacies and some woeful finishing ultimately cost us the game.
I was at the game yesterday and the feeling of losing such an important game at home is one that you just don’t want to witness – but in reality, losing a game that you should have won is worse. And I really feel we should and could have won the game.
So where did it all go wrong? Let’s take a look…
Matty Almunia – I am sorry to say – is going backwards in terms of his ability to play in goal – he seems to always have bad games against big teams. The back four have pretty much lost confidence in him and his mistakes against United yesterday and earlier this season have pretty much cost us the points both times. Now, I am not a fan of slating a player, but when you’ve got a fairly decent set of outfield players on the pitch that like to attack, it’s important that the opposition doesn’t score all of it’s shots on target, which has happened a hell a lot of times. Almunia has shown that he is bad on crosses, makes bad decisions, concedes penalties and of course scored a nice little own goal on Sunday too.
How to combat this: We have three other goalkeepers, Fabianski, Mannone and Szczesny, and whilst all have their problems, Mannone does look like the best one out of the bunch. Of course, investing in a proper keeper may not be a bad idea either…
Gael Clichy was once better than Ashley Cole. This season, however, the Frenchman has yet to discover the form that made us all so happy to get rid of the England left back. He wasn’t very good at the weekend, and should have done better for the Nani / Almunia own goal. In fact, United targeted his area as the weak link and it’s something a lot of teams will be doing at the moment.
How to combat this: Like the goalkeeping department, we have a lot of options in Traore, Gibbs, Silvestre and Cruise, but ultimately, it’s quality that count not quality. In Clichy and Gibbs we have two very good left backs. I wouldn’t suggest investing in this position, but I would suggest extra training practice for Clichy and a speedy recovery for Kieran Gibbs.
Denilson is an enigma. A player whom sometimes shines and sometimes does just the opposite. The Brazilian has had some awesome games – I remember the game against Newcastle last season when he ran the whole show and scored a cracker, but on Sunday – for some reason he looked overwhelmed to the point where he has something like a 40% pass accuracy – remember he was 82% last season – ahead of Xabi Alonso – and his positioning was awful. I wonder why he has those poor games, and it always seems that he doesn’t do well when he plays along side Song and Cesc – when one of them is missing, he seems to have more of a defined role. In our system, it’s clear to the team – Song is our defensive midfielder and Cesc is our attacking midfielder and where does that leave Denilson – a bit of a general midfielder.
When Song and Cesc play, we do see a poorer Denilson and maybe in Arsene’s eyes he is only in the team because Diaby is injured – but I don’t want to come down too critical on the guy as he has played well generally and is only really “found out” in the bigger games.
For all three goals, the three players could have been better – and if you roll back to the Bolton games, the same players were at fault. In reality, I don’t think Arsene will look to change anything – well, he can’t now that the transfer window is closed. The false hope of Bendtner was just that – false hope – but with Eduardo, Vela and Van Persie all injured, he will see the game time that his promise maybe deserves and he has goals in him.
The best thing about Bendtner is that it will see Arshavin play wide left, where he is most effective. We saw when Walcott came on against United, it allowed us to start playing balls behind the defence, and a front three of Arshavin, Bendtner and Walcott will cause more problems than Rosicky, Arshavin and Nasri in the same positions. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of time for Nasri and Rosicky and would love to see them play inside alongside Cesc and Song – more about the potential starting lineups for the Chelsea game later, but I think you know where I’m going with this.
Back to the current situation and we’re currently 3rd in the table and although slipping, still up there and still hoping that something can happen around the top… much better than the pre-season and experts had us. And we can recover at Chelsea – it’s all about belief at the moment…
Captain fantastic is looking forward to the Chelsea game and had this to say:
“I think we have to be positive. It is very easy to say we lost to Man United and let our heads go down. We have to be strong, be together more than ever and do our best until the end of the season. United had their chances to score even more goals and they also missed [them]. They were the better team and that’s it. They competed better than us. With all my respect, I really don’t care what people think about us. It’s about what we believe up until the end of the season. People are not going to play for us and it is up to us to show what we can do. People watch the football and enjoy it but we must do our talking on the pitch.”
It’s going to be tough, Chelsea away and then Liverpool at home, but nevertheless, we’re still in it. If our players can shake the loss off themselves, then they will be raring to go…
As much as the defeat hurt me, it’s time to forget and move on…!