Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Manchester United displayed weaknesses which augur well for the real battle in April
Let me start by saying well done to Man Utd, they deserved the win and in all honesty 4-0 was kind of flattering for the Arsenal. It could have been much worse if Rooney had his shooting boots on.
Another point to make clear is that we did NOT have a reserve side out there, we had 11 players that a lot of us, including myself, thought that could give United a game.
Wenger played the best team available to him on the day so anybody believing that he went there to lose is deluded! If that was the case then Hleb and Cesc would simply have been saved for Wednesday!
I travelled with some friends all the way to Manchester to watch the game and we got the team news quite early on. When we saw the team line up we started breaking it down as follows:
1) Why are United playing 5 in the middle at home????? We thought if Gilberto and Cesc win the midfield we’ll win the game.
2) We have to press high up and make United by-pass their midfield by making them play the ball long. Without Flamini that is going to be difficult since we all knew Gilberto will not provide the necessary pressure.
Edy and Nicklas need to step up and make it difficult for Rio to get the ball to Carrick or Anderson, we need to frustrate them and be patient. Rio may do something silly!!!
3) Traore and Hoyte are in the team, It’s obvious that United are going to go for the diagonal ball over their heads and try and get behind the defence.
This was never going to happen if Sagna and Clichy were playing! We need to push Nani and Park back on to their fullbacks, force them to defend.
Sure enough most of the above were true! United played through Carrick – who had a wonderful game and was my MOTM – there was no pressure on him by the forwards however.
He was able to spread the game beautifully and give Anderson – another one that had an excellent game – time and space to play. We had no chance with 2 vs. 3 in the middle especially with Flamini on bench!
The first couple of goals came from good United play in the wings. It was almost like Traore and Hoyte were not prepared for the diagonal balls coming towards them and constantly seemed to loose the flight of the ball, the united wingers were having a field day!
Traore and Hoyte froze
They did not tackle, didn’t get close and certainly did not fight.
They just froze! I don’t know why but they did.
Hopefully this is going to be a reality check for both as to what is required to play at that level.
Gallas seemed to get agitated every time united got behind our defence, he lost concentration and that disorganised the whole unit.
Kolo Toure was not ready to play in this game; I hope he is a lot better on Wednesday when he comes up against AC Milan or we could be in for a long evening.
I pray that Cesc was ill on Saturday! He seemed exhausted, could not get any rhythm going. He gave the ball away too easily!
He has not looked right since he came back from injury, but there have been encouraging signs over the last few games. We need him to get back to his best for the run in if we want to stay top of the pile.
The game was disheartening! It’s the second time this year we got mauled in a cup tie and I have to admit it’s not a nice feeling!
Having said that, while watching the game I was never thinking how are going to beat his team? Or we have no chance against them in April!
On the contrary I saw a few things that were encouraging for the upcoming league game
Wes Brown was almost man marking Hleb, leaving a huge hole on the left when Hleb drifted in, that can never happen if Clichy or Sagna are on the pitch.
If it does, United will get murdered on the wings much like we were on Saturday. If Hleb gets more space then he will hurt them through the middle.
Carrick is not going to be allowed the same time and space again, Flamini will be all over him like a rash and even if Falmini does not make it I am sure that Wenger will get someone to do that job properly next time.
Arsenal are going to have a lot more attacking options in their arsenal for the league game. The best form of defence is to attack them; the less they have the ball the less they can hurt you.
Off the ball movement was non-existent on Saturday, first time I have seen Arsenal so static. I am sure that it won’t happen again any time soon.
A few issues have been strongly debated after the game:
1) Nani’s juggling: I didn’t think it was disrespectful, I think if you can keep the ball in any way then you do it. Having said that he should not get upset when he is fouled, what does he expect a free route to goal?
2) Gallas: Lucky boy should have been sent off.
3) Adebayor: I was embarrassed by the dive, so were most of people around me, please, please, please don’t do it again.
4) Eboue: High, reckless challenge I hope it was not intentional, not sure it wasn’t. Only seen one replay of it, united friends assured me however it was.
He needs to screw his head on straight and stop his histrionics or he is going to be looking for a new club very, very soon.
5) Evra: As dirty as they come, should have been booked twice in the first 10 minutes, His first challenge on, I think, Hleb was atrocious!
A special mention to all the Gooners that travelled up there who I though were in fantastic voice whatever the scoreline on the pitch was.
They did not deserve such a heartless performance! The team needs to repay them big time. Starting with tomorrow against AC Milan and hopefully a huge payback will be on offer on April the 12!!!
Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea: Six factors that will affect the outcome of the title