Well, that was bleh. It was an affair to forget even though it was draw. Manchester United set up behind the ball and Arsenal – well the less said about our approach the better.
It seems harsh to be critical of an away draw especially at Old Trafford, but it set up so nicely for Arsenal and well, we fell flat. So it is with that tinge of regret we look back on the Three Things We Learned from Manchester United versus Arsenal.
Missed Opportunities are Piling Up
Two weeks ago it was Tottenham. This week it was Manchester. Each of those matches presented Arsenal with a chance to set the pace for the title race. Instead after each one, they are still part of the pack but playing catch up.
And in each one the recipe was similar. Neither opponent were stellar are offered anything to be worried about, it was just that Arsenal came out flat.
Top to bottom players who should have stepped up didn’t. Additionally, the noticeable absence of Santi Cazorla lingers large over the team. Both adding to lackluster performances that while not woeful remind us that the title fight is going to be just that a fight – as long as we continue to perform like that.
Of course both opponents are well coached and talented opposition but as stated earlier, nothing really set them apart or made anyone say – ooooo they are better than us. We should’ve put them both away. And while a draw at Old Trafford isn’t something to sneeze at – it still feels like points dropped rather than a point earned.
It’s Nice Having a Plan B
I’ve a self-avowed Olivier Giroud fan. I have been since the day he arrived. I accept he is not everyone’s cup of tea. But when you look at what came before him, it’s no wonder fans are so critical of him.
The fact remains however, that coming off the bench he allows Arsenal to change it up and more times than naught he brings the goods.
To highlight that two facts stand out – he has had more goals than any other Arsenal player as a substitute (10) and his with his last 9 shots he has scored 8 goals. If that doesn’t embody the idea of “impact” – I don’t know what does.
He’s never going to be the mobile, run at you type of forward we’ve been blessed with. His strengths and tool kits are entirely different than that.
If it’s a near-post run with a front foot flick, he’s your man. Last minute header that shakes the net. Bingo. Add to it the touch of a midfield maestro and Olivier Giroud offers Arsene great options when in need of a change.
If I am critical of something – it’s that we should’ve started out against United with Plan B. They were never going to be fully open against us. As the defended it at times looked like a back 5 with 4 in front. You can be the best passing team in the world but this is where Jose’s teams live.
They were solid defensively and cut off all the passing lanes. We did get joy in the wide areas but without a real target in the center of the pitch crossing the ball was inefficient. I wonder had Giroud started and battling against a makeshift back line if we might have had more success.
It wouldn’t have been pretty but some matches don’t need to have the aesthetic of the beautiful game. Sometimes, smash and grab will do just fine. That’s what Olivier Giroud can bring. That’s what having an effective plan B can bring.
It didn’t live up to expectations
Jose Mourinho v Arsene Wenger is always going to be a match that brings a lot of hype with it. The two managers simply don’t like each other. With the end of the Interlull happening before the match the buildup was nonstop.
Except those building it up forgot one of the oldest maxims in the book – no matter how hard you try the actual event never lives up to the hype.
Wenger and Mourinho played their part and dutifully conducted the pre and post-match handshakes. No fireworks occurred on the pitch and Arsenal v Manchester United – which used to be a fire and brimstone affair. This one was a limp affair that wasn’t reminiscent of its epic heritage.
All the highlights (if you want to call them that)