The Gunners out of ammo!By: Ian | November 4th, 2012
As part of a tough-looking run of fixtures, Arsenal came to Old Trafford at the end of a tiring week for the home side with two hard fought games against Chelsea. The squad that beat Chelsea last weekend ran out again, and ran out winners in a surprisingly bland game. Utd weren’t at top speed, but nor did they need to be, as for the most part Arsenal padded about like an old lion: scary looking but with no teeth to bite. Given that, the 2-1 scoreline to Utd heavily flattered the Gunners.
Van Persie’s first game against his old club brought a predictable reception from visiting fans and if they needed any more reason to shout, it was through him that Utd took a very early lead. A neat bit of skill from Valencia released Rafael (still running after both games this week) who’s cross was badly dealt with by Vermaelen. The ball ran free for Van Persie to meet it with a right-footed volley that went straight in the net. Quiet celebrations from him, not so from the home crowd.
Another chance came after twenty minutes when Gunner keeper Mannone saved from a RVP angled effort. Given the first goal in 8-2 game last year didn’t come until 22 minutes, this was looking promising. Arsenal contributed minimally from a Ramsey cross, with Santos coming in for particular criticism for being almost permanently out of position. Rooney, fairly quiet in the first half by his standards, also saw a shot saved and keeper Mannone was right behind a Van Persie headed attempt. Giroud headed over from a Arsenal set piece.
In a busy week for officials, this was a nice run out for the ref thus far. He was called into action just before half-time as Young’s cross was handled by Cazorla who, despite protesting innocence, can have no complaints as it was hands raised in the box. Don’t do it. That said, Utd haven’t taken penalties with any conviction this season, and Rooney followed this trend by putting the shot to the left. AT LEAST hit the target from a penalty, its not that small to aim for. Better a save than a miss.
Utd’s boots must have been swapped in the dressing room, because a further goal, despite dominance, was proving elusive. Valencia had a try shortly after half time but Mannone could have been reading the paper and it wouldn’t have troubled him. Well wide. Walcott then replaced Ramsey, and Fergie wisely replaced Cleverley with Anderson, the former on a yellow. The next chance fell to Van Persie again, but being clear away wasn’t enough of an advantage and that attempt was saved too.
A short corner on 67 minutes saw Young and Rooney interchange for Wayne to whip the ball in for Evra to head in. Why not? If your strikers are off form, why not call in the smallest defender you can find to meet a cross? Excellent deceptive tactics. 2-0 at last. Seconds late, Wilshere received a second yellow and Utd played the last twenty minutes against ten men. A chance for more perhaps, but no. That was to be the lot for Utd, despite attempts from Van Persie and Anderson from offside positions. Arsenal kept plugging away, and at last struck a blow through Cazorla, who found the ball in the box and curled a great effort past De Gea. In the same way that the last second penalty in the week saw us bow out of the cup, so this goal so deep in extra time took away the potential clean sheet. That particular achievement remains as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster.
But three points were taken, which saw Utd jump to the top of the table, with Chelsea to play later against Swansea. This game ended 1-1, so Utd keep top spot by a point. City also drew so more good news there. Altogether, a potentially difficult game was seen out without any major problems and rivals dropped points, so pretty successful day. A trip to Portugal against Braga beckons on Wednesday with some points there pretty much guaranteeing progress in the Champions League.
Everything’s looking in good shape at the moment, your thoughts below.