So after the high of Reading (after an incredible low, of course), the question was whether we could build on that. But that was always going to difficult, not only because we were at Old Trafford- our record there has been awful of late- but because e starting line-up was always going to be different.
JAT’s line-up in the pre-match blog was spot in. A few people were disappointed Theo wasn’t starting, but after 120 minutes midweek, was there any doubt as to him bing on the bench? I don’t think so.
Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen Santos
Ramsey Cazorla Wilshere Arteta Podolski
But anyways, having said all that, we started the match pretty much the same way we did against Reading. Nervy, edgy, sloppy, and any other negative words ending in y you can think of. United on the other hand, were anything but.
And unsurprisingly, they took the lead early on. Disappointing to concede, especially so early on, but even more disappointing was the fact that it came from a mistake from our Captain, Tommy V. A cross came in from the right, an air kick from Tommy V, unfortunately, and who was there to fire it in, if not runaway boy, Robin van Persie? All I can say and will say about it and him, is well done for not celebrating. 1-0 Man U.
You’d think there’d be a reaction, but in my opinion, there wasn’t much of one. United looked the more likely to score, and in all honesty, they probably should and could have scored more, but a combo of poor finishing and a few good saves from Mannone saved our blushes. Real fears from a few that we’d get a hammering, but I won’t mention the 8-2 from last year, because to me, that was a one-off. Oh damn, I just did!
United bossed the first half from start to finish, and I don’t think we even managed a shot on target. Poor poor half, and we could count ourselves lucky thinkwell were only 1-0. “Theo! Theo! Theo!” was the cry from the away fans, and there was no doubting that we needed something different. Oh, I almost forgot United’s penalty! Towards the end of the first half, Cazorla was adjudged to have handled on the edge from a cross, but I think he was unlucky. Bit of a moot point in the end, as Rooney’s effort hit the left hand side of the post and went being for a goal kick. Mannone guessed the right way, but I don’t know if he’d have stopped that, was it on target. Massive let off for us.
We started the second half a little bit better- well, we couldn’t have started it any worse than the first! United were threatening, as usual, but at least we could string more passes together. Not so much in the final third, however. Vermaelen slipped again, and Man U almost punished us. We really struggled to create chances, and Arsene had no choice but to bring Theo on, earlier than the usual 75 minutes in. He did make a difference, but not terribly much.
The second goal, which had been coming, eventually came. This time from Evra. Annoying that the two goals we conceded were from two players who we’d rather not to have scored against us, but hey ho, that’s life! Would have said that was the final nail in the coffin, but given the Reading match, and indeed the way the season has gone, with 2-0 seemingly not a safe result. But then again, it’s Arsenal we’re talking about. You just never know. Not that we were threatening or anything.
But if that didn’t spell the end, Jack getting sent off 4 minutes later definitely was it. He’d been yellow carded in the first half, and a late tackle on Evra was enough for a second yellow. Welcome back, Jack. Just shows that he’s still rusty and we can’t expect too much from him just yet.
With us frown to 19, it was just a case of avoiding conceding more goals, and maybe getting one for ourselves. And if we could get one back early enough, maybe we could make something of it. Gotta say though, that although United were comfortable in the first half, they definitely didn’t get it as easy in the second half. Of course they created more than us, even before Jack got sent off, but it wasn’t a walk over. But then you could argue that they were two up so didn’t need to do too much, but I still felt that if we could nick one early enough, you never know. Theo had a chance, but he was unlucky. The match wore off and it looked like it’d end a disappointing 2-0, but Cazorla popped up with just injury time to go and curled a superb effort in. I think we deserved that. Of course there wasn’t enough time to get the equaliser, but I think 2-1 was a fair result.
Would it have been different were jack hadn’t been sent off? We’ll never know. There was the sense, at the end of the match, that the result was inevitable, but football isn’t like that, and if we’d shown more fight from the get go, it could well have been a different result. I’m not going to bother looking at where we lie in the table- it’s probably depressing! But if there’s any consolation, I’m sure we were even far back at the same stage last season. Not ideal, all the same.
Big game coming up on Tuesday in the league, but I hope the team can brush off this defeat and actually pull out the win against Shalke. We definitely need it. Chin up, guys.