Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United: Suicidal gameplan leads to predictable defeat

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Disclaimer: I don’t hate Wenger. In fact, I love him. This report is about the Manchester United game, not about Wenger losing the plot or needing to spend money or anything like that. It is a look at our match-up with United.

I’ll run through the good before I get onto the bad on what was a dreadful afternoon at The Emirates.

First things first I thought our energy and effort was good, we created enough chances to score a few goals and our physical effort on the 50/50 balls was admirable. 

Andrey Arshavin was purposeful and dangerous, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song gave it their all in the middle of the park while William Gallas and Thomas Vermaelen’s effort meant they did not deserve to concede three goals.

However, our gameplan was suicide. 

Open, ultra-attacking football against the country’s best exponents of the counter-attacking game? Are you freaking kidding me? Did Arsene Wenger forget about last year’s 3-1 loss on the same ground in the Champions League final?

It is a harsh and simple truth that Wenger’s insistence on playing open football against Manchester United does not work.

Sure we’ve won games but when we do it is by the skin of our teeth. Last season’s 2-1 win at the Emirates is a good example, as are the 2-1 wins home and away in the first year at The Emirates. Games that were a knife edge all the way and where luck and one moment of brilliance were the deciding factors.

On the other hand when we lose, we get slaughtered. 3-1 yesterday, 4-1 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-final and the 4-0 loss in the FA Cup the season before. 

The gamble Wenger takes when he plays open football against United is on our attackers taking more of their chances than their opponents. Recent history tells us that it is not a smart gamble, that United’s biggest weapon is their ability to make the most of their opportunities and the only time we’ve enjoyed success is when they’ve been profligate.

The most shocking thing is that Wenger has shown us he is aware of this.

He sent out a perfectly-balanced team to play a slow-paced possession game at Old Trafford earlier in the season and only a generous referee and Abou Diaby’s brain explosion stopped us from going home with the points. He also went for a similar tactic when Emmanuel Adebayor scored the only goal beat United at Old Trafford in 2006.

Yesterday we lost because Wenger again gambled that we would take our chances better than United. Yet again we didn’t and yet again we were destroyed. It’s becoming all to familiar and something needs to be done.

I also thought the manager’s team selection left a lot to be desired. 

The inclusion of Denilson ahead of Aaron Ramsey effectively left us with a less attacking team than the one that so nearly won at Old Trafford earlier in the season. Yet he sent out this group of players with the mission of attacking much more willfully. It made no sense.

Aaron Ramsey is a player that has confidence in abundance and an attacking threat that is still hard to predict and counteract. He could have been our Diaby, our wild-card. His presence would have moved Fabregas back into the battling midfielder position that he appears to thrive in most. Instead Wenger went with Denilson, a player that was predictably invisible in attack and gift-wrapping United with their second and third goals.

Denilson’s effort to prevent Wayne Rooney from slotting home United’s second goal was a disgrace. He had a twenty yard head-start on the striker yet a lack of awareness and sheer laziness saw that margin gobbled up. When you compare Denilson’s effort with that of Vermaelen and Clichy, who tore back with immense speed and desire, it is almost embarrassing.

It is the sort of defending that is inexcusable in any game against any team. Against Manchester United’s counter-attacking expertise it is borderline insanity. Denilson should be dropped for a couple of games to make an example to the other players that this sort of thing is absolutely unacceptable. It cannot happen if we want to win league titles.

To compound the manager’s error with the starting team was his lack of proactivity with the substitutes when we were 2-0 down. At half-time Wenger needed to make a statement of intent: Nicklas Bendtner and Aaron Ramsey needed to come on. 

Instead, he obviously considered that we were creating chances and that we just needed to convert one to get back in the game. Trouble was, so was United. Predictably the scored a third on the break.

From that point, just as with Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning counter-attack goal in the Champions League, the game was over. The rest didn’t matter. We continued to put in the effort and the hardest man in Premiership football even got a goal. But it didn’t matter one bit.

I realise this is just one game but I’m really getting sick of losing to United.

They don’t have superior players. They don’t have an untouchable player like Ronaldo anymore (talk of Rooney destroying us is absolutely ridiculous) and they’re not unbeatable. But as long as Wenger continues to play open football then Alex Ferguson’s counter-attacking team is going to beat us more times then they lose.

In terms of the bigger picture the season is far from over but we desperately need to get a result at Stamford Bridge now. Otherwise just like last season, all our eggs will be in the Champions League basket.


Have your say on Arsenal’s 3-1 loss to United by leaving a comment.


70 thoughts on “Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United: Suicidal gameplan leads to predictable defeat

  1. Andrew

    United fan here. Agree with your assesment of the game. I feel Rooney did not destroy you but certainly did trouble your defence, it was his movement just like Ronaldo’s in last seasons CL semis that troubled your defence. Even for the third goal when Park was going himself Rooney was rampaging forward and Arsenal players didnt know whether to stop park or keep Rooney’s run in check.

    Agree that in these games the way you played at Old Trafford in August is the right approach. You can get away with this sort of defending against the lower teams, but the top teams will punish you

  2. I am still trying to gain composure after the loss. With all those crap players yesterday, infact, I saw Denilson for the first time in the second half. Clichy was crap too, so was Sagna(the king of back tracking). Man U play us like a game of chess, wait for us to attack, cover the guy with the ball, recover the ball, pass it to Fletcher, Nani or Park who slips it to Rooney n make an easy goal… The last time I felt what like I did yesterday was the 3-1 loss at the CL. Im beginning to doubt our title challenge capabilities!!

  3. totally agree with you…wenger never learned his lesson and stuck to his philosophy…i was gutted when nani scored…but i thought we had that ‘mental strength’ that wenger always harps about…going 2-0 down…i knew it was game over…now i wonder how we are going to head to CHELSEA to grind a result….i can see Drogba tormenting us again or even Cashley Cole….no good points to look forward to…

    …and I’m having second thoughts of staying up till 2:30 a.m on a Sunday night to see another dreadful performance from us…zzz

  4. Rubbish performance by the team and the manager.

    I can’t bear any more talk of potential and a promising future. This team isn’t good enough to compete for the league title and never will be.
    Wenger seems to be too stubborn to adress what needs adressing.

    Almunia is a clown and not fit to wear the shirt. But he seems to be undroppable.
    Clichy has been shit for about two years, but with Gibbs’ injury he has not competition at all.
    Denilson is a Carling Cup player at best.

    We deserve better.

  5. Without going into depth on what we coulda/shoulda/woulda IMO i think we played our great and fantastic passing game, and yet again this does not work against chelsea/man utd/liverpool. Personally i think if we had have been playing liverpool at the emirates and the way they are at the moment we would have lost. The pasing game that wenger wants Arsenal to use works on the mid to lower average teams, and it odviously doesnt on the bigger/stronger teams.
    But i am just a supporter like the rest of us, Wenger is the manager and its his job to decide what the players can and cant do.
    Its easy to sit here and type what Wenger should do, or he shouldnt or whom he should play but we are not the manager, he is and he decides.
    Denilson played bad against utd, but everyone has their off days.
    I hope he does something different against Chelsea, but i doubt it. Knowing Wenger he will stick to his guns and do what he did with Utd.
    So i can be sure next week on monday i will be feeling sorry for myself like i was after this mornings game. But have had plenty of those days in recent years.

  6. Easy to be critical and negative the day after a disappointing defeat. Clearly, we’re not as strong as United but we’re certainly not a million miles away.

    If I was being critical of Wenger it would be in terms of goals conceded. We’ve typically conceded more than the rest of ‘the big four’ in all the seasons at the new Highbury.

    We have continued that trend this season and that is proabably the reason we’ll come up short again. The different formation hasn’t changed this.

    I don’t think there is any shame in losing to arguably the biggest side in the world and one that has spent far, far more money on transfer fees and assembling its squad (and debt) than we have.

    It is a huge if, but if we got six points from the next two games then things would look different. Its not probable but it is possible.

  7. What is awful about yesterday is when you consider all the games that we have played at home against Chelsea and United over the last year. We got battered by United in the CL in much the same way as yesterday, we got batter 4-1 at home by Chelsea followed by a 3-0 battering this season and then there was yesterday……..I’m a massive fan of Wenger and constantly defend him, but for Arsenal to get humiliated at home in the way I’ve described above in the biggest home games of their season, two seasons running is not acceptable.
    p.s Your analysis is spot on here.

  8. Well done, Andrew, and thanks for a somewhat clearer assessment of the game even though I’m sure the mist of rage and despair still clouds your eye as it does mine.
    I disagree with the comment of the manure fan above. I didn’t think Rooney was much of a problem at all – even though he scored! Basically Stan Collymore could have scored that one. It was a gift. And Wayne Rooney, though on a good run of form – is no more than a white Emile Heskey.
    manure didn’t beat us – we beat ourselves. Quite literally for the first goal – Thank you ‘Faulty Towers’ Manuel. And who else but Arsenal lets Ji- Sing Park score against them?
    We should have ravaged Brown, Evans etc in defense. They are second rate.
    I can’t explain it but it seems whenever the big prize is in the sights of this team – they shoot themselves in the foot.

  9. Arrived at the pub on 57 minutes, couldn’t believe it,0-3, game over! Here we are again, I thought, must have been the same all out approach as last season’s CL semi. Apparently so. How disappointing, when we know how to play against Utd is to hold the ball. They actually send out a team designed for the counter attack and we play to their strengths.
    Up front we have no-one who scares their defenders,well Arshavin maybe, but he’s carrying an injury and is out of position. They know our game, through the middle, so they push us wide, to our awful crossers to put crosses in towards shorties. Its too easy!
    Play the posession game gradually drawing more and more fouls from the likes of Scholes and Fletcher who don’t take too long to lose their rags if its not going their way. Get the free kicks around the box and …..well .
    It is the pressure game where continually chasing posession brings mistakes, doubts, fear and defeat.
    Would love to have seen Ramsey and not Denilson too. The thing is Villa could have done exactly the same last week if they were a little sharper up front

  10. Totally agree.Playing 4-3-3 against them was seemed obvious after 10 mins.Also thought he should of had walcott upfront and rosicky and arsh either side.They were not that good.I am convinced we would have won this had we played 4-4-2

  11. I think arsene is just plain naive and stupid. Denilson is the same as lucas in liverpool, brazilians can not cut it out in the premiership. Never. Guys remember when we beat manure 2-1 and 1-0. We used a 4-5-1 formation. How can u play 4-3-3 against manure. Its easy to play arsenal simply choke the mid-field. Simply done choke ur mid-field stupid arsene.
    Our formation if u ask me would have being


    With the midfeild of this calibre it would be hard for manure to break. I was close to tears not that we lost but because Arsh cost us the game. In the first 15mins we had 2 clear cut chances but that imp did not pass. Did u see clichy chasing after flecher. Denilson should be murdered. I hate that guy with everything in me. I always comment when I know our season is over. I will never comment on this lovely blog again but we will not win anything. Can wenger go? we can get another coach who will be the least impartial.

  12. Well written Andrew.

    I enjoy reading your posts, but rarely make comments. But due to Arsenal’s poor performances especially against Manure and Chelski, let me say something. Wenger’s defiancy to buy a strong midfielder and a good striker, despite having the opportunity has left this team stagnating. We have a say in Africa that, there are only 40 days for a thief to survive, but eventually he will fall in the trap and get cought. So, Wenger after telling us fans so many lies with players like Denlison, Almunia and so many others who shdnt put on Arsenal shirts, he was captured yestarday and his lies were exposed. pliz Wenger burry your baseless pride and strengthen the team. we want trophies, not business empires. am tired

  13. i think that sums it up exactly andrew, we are not bad loosers, this match was more about us getting it wrong rather than m.u. getting it right, as for subs by half time in anymatch you can see if you have got it right or wrong, that is the time to change your game plan, not effin 10/20 mins before the end, the subs havnt even got time to warm up, like you i love a.w. but he needs an assistant manager who can and is a thinking manager like arsen used to be,i think when berkamp has finished his coaching courses he should get that job.

  14. You can never do things the same way and expect different results, we can play the same way we do 1000 times against MANU or CHELSEA and lose all. Are these players ever psyched up to beat MANU or CHELSEA thoroughly? or they just enjoy playing such matches irrespective of the results? I wish Theo Walcot could be psyched to score against MANU the way Rooney is always sure of scoring against us, Drogba too. Who in Arsenal can much up to that Score against MANU or CHELSEA in 5 consecutive matches? When will we beat MANU or CHELSEA 3-0 or 4-0?????? who can give me this answer????????

  15. Every losing plan is a suicidal gameplan. It makes you lose doesn’t it?

    Constructive? This? Having a laugh.

  16. Andrew,

    At first, when Arsenal hired Ivan Gazidis, my fellow African, i thought he was going to put on pressure on Arsenal board and Arsene Wenger to be buying players. i thought he was going to help us fans, but it seems, he is another “Yes man”. surely Kids dont win trophies

  17. Agree 100% with the article. Arsenal used to play like that during the time of Henry. I don’t know why AW has strayed from this policy which served Arsenal so well.All out attack is suicidal unless you have wc and physically strong ,speedy players who can stop the counter attack quickly.I know Arsenal play the best soccer but if you consistently get beaten,then there must be rethinking.Arsenal got out of jail against Everton. A similar game plan against Chelsea with another defeat will frustrate more gunner fans.

  18. Great post-match comments Andy. And I am glad to finally read comments from a sane non-gloating Man Utd fan. Credit to you ‘aig alex is god’ though your name does suggests a subtle attempt at gloating. AW lost the game pure and simple. The way Bolton’s Lee and Villa’ s Ashley Young tore Clichy to shreds, no suprises that SAF decided to use Nani against him again with superb effect;it worked all night long! Nasri had his worst game for Arsenal as did Rosicky.No thanks to a pedestrian ‘underrated’ Denilson, I am sure the stats are still in his favour, right? If only games and trophies were won by stats the Brazillian would be ahead of Messi by a mile!
    Now AW will pay for his ‘no-striker-has-impressed-me’ attitude during the January window.Bendtner cant do it, Arshavin is no line-leading striker;Eduardo is again injured and hasnt ever recovered ‘mentallly’from his broken leg.Almunia is no goalkeeper of EPL quality.I mean is there a worse keeper in any club?
    But not all gloom and doom though ‘cos as I stated after Villa away.If we just have the nerve, workrate and the tenacity we showed against Bolton and Villa against the big teams, we’ll do very well. But once again, we didnt and got punished.
    Unlike AW’s delusions, I can SEE very clearly that this team needs a world class striker that can terrorise defences. We need to BUY a real goalkeeper, whatever that makes Almunia and his two side kicks. We need another strong and tireless midfielder who can mix it and not Denilson for big games.With Song and that midfielder playing behind Fabregas, we’d have had a better balance in the big games.
    Finally, I am not too sad. Even if we lose to Chelsea, we need to win against Liverpool and raise our game fro that point on. If we have now specialised in beating the small teams, then let’s do it more rutlessly. Man Utd won their last trophy losing to the top sides but beating every other person.
    And of course the naive and ‘ultra-attacking’ approach seen against United must be replaced with greater resolve against at the Bridge. Its not the end of the title race but unlike last year post-chelsea run of games back to the top, our keeping up with the top is not just based on our performances, it is also now dependent on Man Utd and Chelsea dropping points.

  19. Fair assessment. Arsenal Destroyed themselves. You can’t attack an team like MANU with players like Deni as CDM. May some will think that the team lost as an whole but certain players performance stands out Nani for united was fantastic. When i saw the match i thought manu were playing like the old arsenal team(pires,henry,ljungberg,bergkamp). Breaking quickly and very time they did break they looked like scoring. We should have played Bendy i still believe (Half Fit or Full Fit). These would have allowed players from midfield to break. Bcz united had an defence(Brown,Evans,Rafeal,Evra(Dog who is unnecessarily barking )) with no one taller and good in air. I am still not attaining the phone call of my friends who are united fans. Still feeling Gutted.

  20. Corners. Can’t take them. Can’t defend them. (George Graham to take training one day a week to teach this team set pieces?) Not tall enough. Or strong enough (apart from Song and Vermaelen) Walcott useless.( Will Southampton have him back?) We are spolied for third-rate keepers. (Almunia is so lacking in ability and ambition he thinks he can be England’s goalkeeper.) Our only addition this time round is Sol Campbell. Unless he’s replacing Almunia, why get him back? Denilson, waste of space. And what was Wenger doing at half-time? Clearly not motivating the team who started the second half worse than the first. The easiest three points Man U will win all season. No team is frightened of Arsenal. No team leaves the Emirates thinking “That was bloody hard work!”

  21. Fergie out-thought wenger, but we still could have scored 3 on another day. Bad performances from denilson and clichy, but it appeared to be a part of the Utd game-plan to target our LB. Someone could have supported him more.
    Denilson can play better than this, he was superb last time at old trafford, but he was awful yday. The annoying thing is you could see it coming based on his previous performance.
    Bendtner should have started if he ws anywhere near fit, with nasri dropping into midfield. He always fights for the cause and has a bit of extra pace over denilson.
    I still disagree with a lot of the criticism. Its not the end of the world. We have a far better side than last year, but clearly its still learning. From that Utd side yesterday, Id probably only take rooney, evra and one of their midfielders (over denilson) in our team. Our problems were mostly tactical, and lacking a striker didnt help.

  22. Probably a bit pointless sacking Wenger now!!! as your facebook suggestion would say rather he needs to be bollocked and given the financial back up. If he does not want to use it to strengthen then the board should make a board like decision and decide what they feel is the right move. Currently we are all angry, incredibly angry as yet again we capitulate to a Man U team that really are no comparison to the past teams. Man U were allowed to play their game and deservedly shoved it right up us but we would normally let our anger subside before making the big decisions. Remember when people were going mental about paying £10m for a left wing flop called Henry, just as good we didn’t sell him to borough of a couple of quid really. That said I am of the mind that things have to change and I am really worried that Wenger is spouting off about self sufficiency and all of that stuff. I prefer a balance but we still have not quite got it. We had it in our hands to strengthen the squad and unless we do so today we have blown it again. If we are truly Arsenal we take the good with the bad but of course this does not stop us feeling heart and in my mind disrespected at this moment in time however we have to be there for the club no matter what or are we really Arsenal fans at all.

  23. Oh, and arshavin at least is playing with an injury. I have a feeling denilson’s back injury prevented him a bit as well.
    I cant imagine he wouldnt chase back ordinarily. It’s unfathomable to me that he could be that lazy, and that wenger would just allow it. He failed to chase back at times in the previous match as well.

  24. AW ‘s recruitment of wc kids has to be shelved for the time being. Instead he shd concentrate on getting better players for the senior team.
    btw all the epl know how to play Arsenal.
    Arsenal play the attacking game with the counter the best option to score agaginst the gunners. AW has no plan b and variation.
    I hope he proves me wrong by beating Chelsea. football is funny old game and dont be Chelsea are beaten.

  25. Wenger it is bye bye premier league title and another trophy less season. No team against the likes of MU, Chelsea, MAN City could win with a goalkeeper like almunia, full backs clichy, sagna, midfielder denilson, bungling forward bendtner and a team of midgets against the men who hardly win 50-50 ball and get anything in the air due to height problem . The time has come for wenger that he cannot any longer hide the old hackneyed phrase of “young gunners” or the team’s average age is less than 25. Fans want success and six years without a trophy for a club like arsenal is not acceptable and Wenger should really consider of quitting and a new man to be given the charge to put the club on road to success that it deserves.

  26. good write up webs. i agree that arsenals gameplan was far too attacking and ultimately cost them. i was worried that man utds 3rd and 4th choice centre backs would be troubled a lot more than happened. arsenal looked so meek in attack and despite having a few chances in the first half could not even hit the target.

    hope you boys beat chelsea for us now 🙂

  27. I’d say the arsenal team I saw yesterday was hungry for the 3 points. One was so hungry that he left his position from one end to the other to find a goal. well thats not that bad. at least he wanted to win.

    The only person out of those in red I saw yesterday without a desire to win is denilson. Just look at him.. all he does is lose the ball, give half-hearted tackle to redeem himself, resigning to fate that since he’s lost the ball, its not his problem anymore. what kind of attitude is that? some of u may be right.. he doesn’t deserve the faith AW has in him. Almunia on the other hand, I wont question his commitment, just his ability. enuf said of his ability. even the pundits on tv say arsenal deserve a better goalkeeper.

    Oh and I thought I should say this. I thought Arshavin has really put in his effort to win the game. His runs and work rate in the Man U game alone surpasses all matches I’ve seen. Thats leaving aside the finishing part. well everyone has their off days.

    I just have a crazy thought. since denilson isnt fit to join the ranks of the first team, y not move vermalean to the DM position and get gallas and campbell to cover the CBs? Verminator could score some piledriver from the midfield too.

  28. Sorry but can not agree that our all out attacking was the cause for this result. The cause was that manure had 13 players on the field and we had 9, I say this because denilson and clichy (who were 2 blame for all 3 goals) certainly weren’t playing for us, what really boils my blood is that every one of those goals was more than defendable but because we have have 2 candidates for worst player in the league who somehow get in the team week after week we leak goals for fun. Come on wenger den and clichy should be playing for pompie or hull not us

  29. We missed Eduardo. he may not be up to form yet but his passes in and around the box enable nearly every goal. in absence we left with Arsh trying to tonk it to the back of the net at every opp. two early goal scoring chances squanderd all of a sudden would have been a differnt game. instead we end up with gallas and verm trying to slavage something. maybe should have sent almunia up there as well he may have been more use.

    Dennilson … i mean wtf@@k. why is he there. his inabilty to track back and tackle is astounding.

    but all this only masking the fact we have gaping hole upfront. just hope bendtner is the chosen one that wenger believes. the one to restore the balance in the force.

  30. First of all i hate all those people who say they r real arsenal fans and those who despise arsenal players are not real fans, everyone has a right to voice their own opinion. and yesterday was just ridiculous, beaten at our own turf and comprehensively. and i have no doubt that we will be shamed and comprehensively beaten at the bridge. this will have a lasting demoralized effect on the team. u can’t attack a team like utd with 10 men going forward. really sad. feel bad but i’m hoping we’ll at least fight hard at the bridge

  31. A turd by any other name will still be a turd especially if left lying in the middle of pitch.

    accusing real arsenal fans when taking victory by chelski as a given. strange.

    only an excellent perfomance picked up the three points we threw away yesterday. im sure the players more than aware what a loss next week will mean. its all about what happens on the day.

  32. Random thoughts… you can’t blame Almunia for the first goal. Clichy got smoked and the goalie was hung out to dry.

    Denilson needs to find time on the pine. He is absolutely at fault for goals 2 and 3 – lack of urgency and poor trapping skills.

    Arsharvin did create a few chances, but should have done better with them – especially the one are the top of the 18 with time and space.
    I can understand Wenger’s decision to not start Bendtner, but Ramsey should have started in lieu of Denilson.

  33. I´m so disappointed because MU players are simply not better than Arsenals but yesterday they seemed to be superior.If u look at players like Nani and park,they used to be average players but they were better than our players.
    I think its time for Wenger to learn more about tactics in football.

  34. fed up of AW`s `philosophies`. we lacked a gunman up front.ashavin should be rested,why?.
    you can`t bulldoze your way only to be selfish at the end.
    within 20minutes it couid have been 2 nil in our favour

  35. Arsene has shown he is a man who sticks to his guns. This is fine when he is right; but when he is in error it is suicide for the Gunners. His decision to play open all attack football against ManU was an error he has made in the past. Good managers learn from their mistakes and correct them during the game or on the practice pitch. Fergie is the master of this and look at his trophy case. Why does Arsene have a blind spot when it comes to two, yes TWO, teams, ManU ans Chelski??

  36. What I feel is that most supporters are being critical due to the fact that we were always the top two team during the viera bergkamp years. By sliding down the pecking order most see that as regression and when Wenger dosent spend money when he explicitly says he made some supporters unhappy. He could just say we have no money and I guess most supporters would accept the non spending, but then again those who pay for the season tickets would start questioning the highest prices in UK.

    Yesterday’s game showed the problem the current squad have been having for the past seasons, the lack of plan b is not something new, it has been debated on most blogs untill I get sick of reading it. The only way for us to have any change is if it starts from the top, if Wenger starts reworking whatever plans he had. But I believe it will only work next season. Its such a pity the squad couldn’t take advantage of a weakened ManU and an aging Chelsea, this season is the best chance ever, well we could still beat Chelsea…can we is the more appropriate question.

  37. You guys wanna know why we havent bought a striker? it is because Wenger knew this all along:
    it wouldnt take until April for RVP to return..he knew and didnt want to share the info…see below:
    According to the report, the Dutch international
    (RVP) is now walking freely and was back in training with the Gunners last week.

    Arsenal striker Robin van Persie is set to return to action far sooner than expected, and could be ready for first team action by mid-March, according to the Mail on Sunday.

    The 26-year-old has been sidelined since rupturing ankle ligaments in an international friendly for Holland against Italy back in November.

    However, according to the report the Dutch international is now walking freely and was back in training with the Gunners last week.

  38. You are absolutely right. It’s the big games that we have to win if we want to remain contenders. What I don’t understand is why we can’t tighten up when we play Man U or Chelsea. I think Arsene should sign up some more firepower come this Summer. A good example, the young but talented Spaniard Borjan from Barcelona. They did it once (with Cesc), they can do it again. Still a gunner always a gunner!

  39. andy your bang on as usual,you and i havnt seen eye to eye on alot of topics and its a shame the one thing we can agree on is that yesterday was a shambles,for you to write that piece in that way just shows how even the most steadfastly loyal and patient gooner can become so frustrated,there was no positive,bar verm,to take from it
    i cant believe some dude was on here defending denilson by sayin he musta been still carrying that back injury,if he werent 100% the boss wudnt even consider him starting and dont kid yourself by claiming hed play through the pain because he forfeited possession in the everton game and fell to the ground like a little girl!!!!!iv been in here a year sayin the guy doesnt chase back and isnt even related to DM,andy his attempt for the second was worse in my opinion as he made the initiall mis-control,remember when i was chattin to you about why i think utd,chels and pool are better than us because when their players make errors they work their asses off to get back behind the ball…nasri,deni,arsha,rosicky wont do this and the proof is in yesterdays game
    we are a team of lightweights and its time to man up,did anyone see the manner in which theo attacked the free header he had,a labrador wud hav attacked it more,cringeworthy stuff really,i know some1s gonna tell me know its not in his locker,but c’mon these guys train everyday and he shouldv done better
    the manager shudv taken denilson off at half time yest but being the stubborn man he is he gives him yet another oppurtunity to sabotage us….which he took with both hands
    almunia,denilson,nasri….pack your bags you overpaid bluffers
    theo,rosicky,clichy,sagna,vela…youv alot to prove

  40. andy,
    in the above i meant denilson was worse for the third
    also do you think cesc will stick around???and why shud he if he does
    ice,gunnerboss,georgetown,radads,laninja….wots the verdict fellas

  41. My problem is not even why we lost the game as over the years, it has been evidently clear that AW has consistently refused to match the top teams in recruiting new players that will add value to the team and not kids that will take years before they blossom and probably get sold as soon as they mature and as such are not able to help our cause of winning trophies.
    However, there are other competitions which we could have won by playing our strongest teams. Each time AW rests players because of the so-called big games, they go on to lose such important games having lost the earlier cup games due to resting the top players and playing kids. For God`s sake, cant a $150,000 per week player play two games in a week? He rested virtually the whole team for Stoke because of matches coming up against Villa and MANU, but he lost against Stoke, got only a point against Villa and has lost against MANU. Wouldn’t it have been better to send out the full squad against Stoke? at least we would still be in one competition or even two had he sent out full strength teams in the carling cup. I REST MY CASE! GET ON UR BIKE AW AND GET IT RIGHT! LET YOUR PLAYERS WORK FOR THEIR MONEY.

  42. Denilson is utter crap. Even with his recent goals scored, I would rather see him in street clothes, behind the bench. Or in a different team’s jersey. I was quick to dislike both Denilson and Song early last season. I am still not sold on Song’s overall game, but his defending and reading of the game has improved exponentially. Den, though, has remained as poor as he started. His passing is woeful, feeding the opposition’s attack as frequently as Arsenal’s. He is defensively lazy. He a large share of the individual blame for the first two goals. The only role I can see him playing effectively on this Arsenal team is as the 3rd choice CM behind Cesc and Ramsey. He does not work when paired with Cesc. He either does not know what he is supposed to do in that role, or is massively incapable of doing it. I would rather see Ramsey, Nasri, Diaby, or Rosicky starting alongside Cesc. Now that Bendtner is healthy (fingers crossed), maybe Nasri or Rosicky could slide back into that midfield role instead of continually sending out our faux-Brazilian. If I have to see that stupid grin again after his complete lack of effort and skill lead to another goal against, I’m going to be sick. It’s the same look retarded children have after disobeying their teacher.

    On to our other team idiot. Almunia is an absolute disgrace. The first goal showed his lack of athletic prowess and the 3rd showed his inability to grasp to simplest of goalkeeping concepts. The whole team is at fault on the last goal and I do not expect a goalkeeper to have a great save percentage on breakaways but Almunia’s near post was more exposed than a Hollywood “It” girl’s twat. The defenders did only one thing well on the break. They pretty effectively took away the angle for any far post shot attempt. All Manny had to do was cover his near post. Force park to hit a great shot to score, or at least to pass across to his oncoming support.

    Unlike most people, I have taken some positives out this game. Arsenal played poorly across the board. Still, we had some good moments. There were numerous scoring opportunities. We could have easily had 2 goals before our whole left side fooled the crowd into thinking Nani’s initials were CR. Even with such an overwhelming number of sub-par performances, Arsenal had their chances. Arsene already removed the psychological cancers (Ade, Kolo). Now he needs to remove the physical cancers (Denilson, Almunia).

    Off to Stamford Bridge now. I hope our boys can play to the level we all know they are capable of.

    Sagna – Gallas – Verm – Clichy
    Cesc – Nasri
    Rosicky – Bendter – Arsha

  43. And I know I like Nasri more than most. I think he is much better in midfield than on a wing up top. I like Ramsey in that position as well. Maybe more.

  44. fabregas- great
    arshavin- great
    v. persie- great (injured)
    song- great
    vermaelen- good

    bendtner- crap
    eduardo- /
    clichy- /
    sagna- /
    almunia- crap
    nasri- bad
    rosicky- bad
    walcott- bad

    and finally…. WENGER!!!!!! = CRAP!!!!!!!

    we would do better with another manager… someone who spend money… yought does not bring trophyes… i hope wenger finally realyzed that after 5 years without trophyes…

    now come on… every other club would fire a manager who wouldn’t have won anything for 5 years… even everton, villa, tottenham and other for now lower rank clubs then arsenal.

  45. For the most part it’s great to be an Arsenal fan. Most people I know are jealous. Unfortunately my personal pain runs deep. I’m truly disillusioned with the team.

    This weekend I’ll sit and watch Chelsea beat us. It may not be the spanking we got off Man U but nevertheless a solid 1-0 performance from the blues (probably Lampard 56min) it will put us 11 points off the top (yes I’m predicting Chelsea to win in mid-week too).

    Don’t you just HATE it when a Man U fan says “I hope you beat Chelsea so we can win the title”. Aaaaaaahhh!

  46. @ rockandrolljesus1 – Why are you an Arsenal fan? I know you made comments yesterday that you should go and support Manchester United or Bayern Munich because they win things. I think you should, your unfair negativity is not welcome here.

  47. Question: What will happen to Wenger if we lose to Chelsea and perhaps only get a point against Liverpool leaving us with 2 points from this crucial 4 game period?

    Answer: Nothing

    Of course I want you to stay Mr. Wenger. You ARE Arsenal. You produced the greatest team that ever graced the Highbury turf. But those boys were different.
    Adams – no nonsense – plenty of grit.
    Vieira – no nonsense – plenty of grit.
    Keown – no nonsense – plenty of grit.
    Bergkamp – no nonsense – plenty of grit.
    Apart from Gallas, where is the grit in today’s team. Perhaps Song maybe. Buy some grit Mr. Wenger. Buy some no nonsense. Look at Chelsea, their team is full of no nonsense with class thrown in for good measure. Flair on the wings yes but grit in the middle. God we miss Flamini. That was a very poor decision to let him go so early.

  48. Fantastic analysis. I avoided the blogs yesterday — just wanted to put the game out of mind – and thankfully was busy. But this analysis helps explain a lot. When we play the possession game against Man U we are better. I remember the game well 3 years back when we beat them at OT. Cesc, Rosicky, Hleb and Adebayor practically never let them touch the ball. But it seems we have abandoned that approach for a more direct approach. So we pick up more points against weaker opponents, but risk being played off the park against stronger ones. We also, quite simply, are too profligate on counter-attacks. I thought Arshivin was a sure thing, but apparently not.

  49. Hey Drew, Good blog.
    I agree denilson needs a seat. Preferably on some other teams bench. Does anyone feel as if we’re ready for the Blues? (I mean Chelsea of course).
    Please say so I need some uplifting. Ouch.

  50. Wenger has been doing some really shitty things lately. FA cup loss, this loss, Villa draw. and that article on where he claims he could have bought david villa or chamakh, then why the hell didnt he? that confuses me. its not like we can win anything this season with nicklas bendtner or eduardo. RvP is hurt, and we need to do something to overcome that. Villa would have been elgible for champions league too, which would have been superb. also, we should have bought another midfielder i think, denilson is pissing me off. signing sol campbell and expecting to win trophies is ridiculous with our injury situation. In Wenger we trust?

  51. been watching the game over and over again. good observation AW, our tactical awareness is lacking. maybe our solution lies in a different tactical coach. sometimes, when coaches are too familiar with a group of players, they cant see what the players are doing wrong. buying players/sacking Wenger may not be the ideal solution but getting another insight our tactical conundrum maybe a solution. The difference between Man U and Arsenal for the past few season is the change in coaching personnel.

    what do you think?

  52. Time to get honest.

    Arshavin is not producing the results expected of him. He has a hard time holding the ball or making the right pass. He just does not have the size. Granted, on short sprints, he is really fast and pulls the trigger in amazing ways once in a while..but he is not the day in day out producer that we need.
    Second problem is Denilson. He simply needs to go.
    I also agree that our total game strategy was misguided. We were with a couple of exceptions very slow in developing our plays moving forward and once we lost the ball, even slower in getting back on defense. It seems to me we have too many Cesc Fabergases on the field. We need players that play their own position in a solid uncompromising way and not all try to make the pretty passes and act like they are Cesc.

    We definitely needed a striker in the transfer W. I dont think we can make it with Arshavin and Bentdner is way too slow on the ball. AW’s job is to win and not act as the controller or the accountant of the team. Leave that to the money people..unless he gets a piece of the pie!!!

  53. We are being fooled wenger should buy players to replace injury list because if it is money we have what else?

  54. Wenger has faith in his young guns, and it seems that is blindfolding him. He has to realize ‘Faith is a Virus’

  55. Denilson needs to warm the bench for enough games. Knew he was the weak link from the Stoke game and the Villa one just confirmed it. The Man Utd game just confirmed that. For Almunia, lost for words. Am sometimes forced to think that the board told Wenger he would have to reach in his pockets if he wants to buy any player. Why does he not want to spend our money. It’s football, not Economics.

  56. I’m frustrated but not surprised that Arsene Wenger hasn’t added anyone other than Sol Campbell to this Arsenal squad.

    Maybe I am slightly deluded but I honestly had the belief that Wenger would bring someone else in. I guess that from now on in the future I’ll have to take his comments on signing players with a pinch of salt.

    In fact I’d rather it if Arsene Wenger didn’t mention his plans on buying players at all. I fail to remember how many times in the past I’ve heard Wenger say something that raises my hopes only to feel let-down when it doesn’t happen.

    I guess I should learn from my mistakes and not expect anything that comes out of Wenger’s mouth to be gospel but I suppose that is what near desperation can do to you. Funny things.

    The true fact is that we haven’t brought anyone other than Campbell in and nothing can be done to change that now.

    So what do we do?

    I’ve spoke of my frustration but I’m going to support my team through thick and thin like a good supporter is supposed too.

    I’m also going to judge the team in May. Like Wenger has asked. I’ll do this because I love Arsenal and respect Arsene but I also believe that he has created a rod for his own back by saying this. Bit like his transfer remarks.

    I’ll wait to May and I hope that we have had success. I backed Arsenal to win the league at the beginning of the season and I’ll keep with that prediction. I have to keep showing that faith despite little doubts beginning to creep in.

    These little doubts are only beginning to show because of the fact that we suffer so many injuries to players in key positions but then again doesn’t this always happen? I actually feel like I’m going over these things round and round again!

    This current Arsenal squad, fully-fit, would win this league. But when is this squad ever nearly even 3/4’s fit? Wenger could have rectified this by signing someone but he hasn’t and we have to try to trust his judgement.

    That is the key word here; Judgement. There will be a lot of that in May if we go trophy-less again this campaign. There will a lot of very disgruntled Gooners and I hope that Wenger is prepared for that.

    The season is far from over and it could still be a fantastic year for us. A football season doesn’t end in February, it ends in May. So save your judgement until then but Arsene Wenger better be ready because it might be harsh.

  57. 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 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…
    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…!

  58. wenger could change his policy on his mind, and if you encroach certain policy and failed try to use another, we need strong and efficient striker for survival of geting primier league champion

  59. Denilson needs to go he is lazy and doesnt seem to have an understanding with the back four. Against Stoke and MU he might have been able to stop vital goals if he had the committment to track back and support his defence. It hurts to say it but does anyone believe Rooney would have given up on his runs the way Denilson did.
    As for no signings in the window ( I dont count SC) this is suicidal I do not believe there are not better players than Bendtner, Eduardo and Almunia available in the market.
    This season could go down to haunt us all, we had real chance in the league cup, FA Cup and premiership and we are now hanging on by the skin of our teeth in the league. The only good news is I always thought our best chance was the Chamions league because of the style of play and the refereeing.
    Right now I have this awful fear that we will look back on this season as a major chance thrown away by suicidal tactics against our main rivals.
    I still live in hope or is it prayer.

  60. I love the football that Wenger has taught his kids. He has provided a beautiful number of years to all of us but it is time for him to go. He is disillusioned and blinded by some mixture of “faith” and arrogance. We were out coached yesterday in every aspect. The players we have been missing for the last two seasons were apparent against Man U (a top tier goal keeper, holding midfielder and a true positioned striker). I love to watch the Gunners play their flowing, free form football; it is a form of poetry in movement. We will not win another piece of silverware however until we are managed in a way that adjusts to our opponent and situation.

  61. have to put the Manure game behind us. Chelski dropped two points this morning against Hull – makes a draw away to Villa seem not so bad. I’d like to see Walcott get a run against Cashley Cole. Walcott has been poor on the few times he has played but I reckon it’s a confidence thing. Show faith in him and his pace might unsettle them and reduce Cole’s attacking threat. Two of Chelsea’s goals in November were down to him. Agree about Almunia but can’t see Wenger dropping him now. Bring in Diaby if fit for Denilson and definitely play Bendtner for his size alone. Also what about Eboue over Sagna. I reckon he brings much more energy and is a better attacking threat. So my team would be Almunia, Eboue, Gallas, Vermeulen, Clichy, Song, Fabregas, Diaby, Arshavin, Walcott, Bendtner. I still don’t reckon Chelsea are that good and we can give them a good fight. And don’t let the heads drop if they score first.

  62. I agree that leaving Aaron Ramsay out in favour of Denilson was a mistake bordering on sheer stupidity.I think Ramsay has more than proven his ability to make a big difference to any match and should have started against United.I think we need to get tougher and start to play teams at their own game instead of trusting entirely in our system.Sometimes you just have to mix it up.It’ll be interesting to see the selection and tactics at Chelsea.I’m sick of losing to the so called big teams.It’s time we brought OUR glory days back.

  63. we to have sign new goalkeeper to replace almunia.i m sorry to say that.but its a gunner crazy fan, his performance against big team like a schoolboy team against professional must sign a good keeper like manuel nuer, mdflder-joann gourcuff of bordeux,samuel eto, edin dzeko, yaya toure. our policy must be changed from trainning home or trainning school to the cup and glory challenge.

  64. Nothing more to add. But when a coach becomes more interested on how a team played rather than the outcome, his ambition is called to question. At the end of last year’s champion league match Patrice Evra described the game as an encouter between boys and men. I do not know how he will describe that of this year.

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