Confusing Gallas goal steals crucial draw for Arsenal

Arsenal maintained their lead at the top of the Premiership table after a hard-fought 2-2 draw with second place Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The home side were forced to come from behind twice against their major title rivals, with Arsenal captain William Gallas proving to be the hero after an excellent stoppage-time equaliser. Despite the thrilling finish to the contest the first half was a relatively quiet affair until just a minute before the break when Manchester United took the lead through an unfortunate Gallas own goal. But Arsenal took just two minutes of the second half to get back in the game when Cesc Fabregas finished smartly from Bacary Sagna’s pass. United then looked to have won the match when Cristiano Ronaldo tapped into an empty net in the 81st after good work from substitute Louis Saha and Patrice Evra, but Arsenal found a late reply through the most unlikely source when Gallas redeemed himself by firing home from the tightest of angles deep into injury time.

I watched this match with a few friends at a Brisbane pub packed with supporters of both sides and the atmosphere was explosive. I have a real hatred of Manchester United going back to a few years ago when both they and Arsenal would regularly fight for the title and it felt great to watch a game between the two sides that was again as important. I am not sorry to admit that I’ve always been a little scared of Manchester United – whenever the play Arsenal they always seem to ruin the rhythm of Arsene Wenger’s side – and it was the same again in the first half at the Emirates.

Aside from a headed effort from Gallas and a foul on Alexander Hleb in the penalty area being turned down Arsenal had made little impression on the United goal. It was no better at the other end with only Ryan Giggs threatening before Rooney/Gallas opened the scoring. Neither the Arsenal captain nor their goalkeeper was culpable for the goal, it was just a top quality move from United on the right to create the chance combined with a huge slice of luck to turn that chance into a goal. But a goal it was and it could not really have come at a worse time for Wenger’s side.

Captain Gallas celebrates his late goalA thrilling second half

Half-time, 1-0 down and United had comfortably dealt with everything that Arsenal had thrown at them. But as they did a week earlier against Liverpool, Arsenal somehow got back into the game. That they found an equaliser at all was quite surprising, that they found it so soon after the break was nothing short of sensational. Emmanuel Eboue – who was dangerous throughout the match – lifted a clever ball into the area that his namesake Emmanuel Adebayor did well to get on the end of before clattering into United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. The loose ball fell to Sagna, who cleverly slid the ball over to Fabregas on the penalty spot and he turned and slipped the ball past Rio Ferdinand on the line. The Arsenal supporters in the pub absolutely exploded and it was game on again.

Rooney should have scored with a relatively simple header and Almunia was unlucky not to be punished for coming out too late to prevent an Evra cross (not for the last time, of course) before Tomas Rosicky, who had a quiet match, might have done better with a half-chance from outside the box. Time was ticking down and it looked likely that things would stay at 1-1 until Manchester United substitute Saha combined beautifully with Evra to set up Ronaldo for the third goal of the match. I really felt it was an excellent piece of play by United and Evra, who should of been tracked by substitute Theo Walcott, took four Arsenal players out of the equation with his run. A lot of people will criticise Almunia’s involvement in the goal but when it’s all said and done he would’ve been unlikely to save Ronaldo’s shot if he had stayed on his line. Baring that in mind, I do agree with Wenger’s relatively simplistic take on things.

“He rushed out to block the cross and he was unhappy with his decision making. He left his goal and didn’t get the ball, so he’ll feel as if he made a mistake.”

At 2-1 with less than ten minutes to go in the match I again thought it was over. I had Manchester United supporters all around me singing and carrying on and I felt absolutely devastated. To Arsenal’s credit they kept trying to play football and their effort was finally rewarded with a late, late equaliser through arguably the best player on the pitch. Gael Clichy did a marvellous job to create space for himself wide on the left and curled in a beautiful ball that eventually reached Walcott at the back post. But the youngster scuffed his shot wide and Gallas, who had gone close to reaching Clichy’s inital cross, turned the ball goalwards.

Van der Sar looked to have saved his effort and the ball fell to Walcott who had another two bites at it before the linesman and referee signal a goal and the score is 2-2. If it sounds like absolute mayhem it’s because it was. The ball was going all over the place in the box before I noticed the Arsenal supporters in pub jumping up and down and cheering about something. Not knowing what had happened, I turned to the fellow next to me, who happened to be a Liverpool supporter, and had the following conversation:

Myself: “What happened? Did somebody win a penalty?”

Liverpool Guy: “It’s a goal mate, somebody scored!”

Myself: “A goal?”

Liverpool Guy: “Yep.”

Myself: *hugs Liverpool guy* “YEEEAAAHHHH!!!”

Wenger and Gallas celebrate at the end of the matchGreat display of character

Of course, in the middle of all the mayhem was a goal that Arsenal supporters will remember for the rest of their lives. For a central defender to be that far forward so late in the game is one thing, but for a central defender to produce such a technically astute piece of finishing is another thing entirely and Gallas deserves full credit for his effort. It was a marvellous finish to an excellent game of football and I would dare say that under the circumstances, Arsenal will be far happier with the result than their opponents. The simple fact is that Gallas’ late equaliser turned a three-point deficit at the top of the table into a potential three-point lead and that is why the Arsenal players celebrated like it was a win. Arsene Wenger spoke in detail about his thoughts on the game and this was the bit that I liked the best. 

“We didn’t find completely our flowing game, didn’t find our creative side of the game and we had more to rely on character and determination.”

To come through the games against Liverpool and Manchester United without losing despite falling behind on three occasions is an excellent outcome, and one that I feel all Arsenal supporters should be content with. Wenger mentioned that he had been expecting to gain four points from the two matches but the fact is that two of Arsenal’s major rivals for the title were unable to gain any ground on them and they still remain on top of the table. A loss against Manchester United would have been a huge confidence blow to Wenger’s young side and a huge psychological boost for their closest rivals so in many ways the draw was as good as a win. And don’t think Sir Alex Ferguson hasn’t realised it either, his inappropriate outburst at the referees after the match just served to give away how frustrated he was with the final result.

Finally, to all those United fans who have said to me that it was a poor result for Arsenal because they were the home side, have a look back over the results between the sides over the past few seasons and let me know whether home ground advantage has counted for anything. What’s that, it hasn’t? What a surprise.

What do you think?

Have your say on Arsenal and United’s thriller by leaving a comment.



  1. cesc is brilliant as always…also gallas…his goal was a top quality one!!yeah!!but i have the utmost respect for clichy…he marked ronaldo really tight(but of course ronaldo score a goal and assist one. but for me clichy was really outstanding..his run his crosses…everything!!!rosicky sure have a quite game…i really cant understand why!!but overall i am very happy with this draw!!go arsenal goooooooo



  3. Hargreaves is an over rated workhorse and hatchet man for the FOS,the manager.God help England .He has no innovation and creativity.
    So the FOS thinks he can win the treble.
    Yes he will reach the final only to lose and better still if the winning goal comes in extra time.
    So much for his hype and over rated players.I wonder how he would perform at some of the less fashinable clubs who don’t have the millions to buy players.
    That is the true test of a manager.

  4. I am heart done of 2 draws against teams which were we could of really win, the defending which u wouldn’t except on any given day to concede but did,whether the 2 draws motivated them or not, the boys must learn and prevent it from happening again, i still believe we won the battle of england, having to come back twice against goal scoring and slightly defence man,le roux i can understand ur reasons for swearing, but keep in mind the youngsters that also come on this site, thanks!!!

  5. not as lucky to be in the Emirates though watched it on tv; some obervatons that stick in my mind,

    – almunia confirms [to me at least] he’s not arsenal grade whatever the EPL and CL tables say – arsene does have talent for wordsmithing; he said,

    “He rushed out to block the cross and he was unhappy with his decision making. He left his goal and didn’t get the ball, so he’ll feel as if he made a mistake.”

    and most likely meant to say,

    “He rushed out to block the cross and I was unhappy with his decision making. He left his goal and didn’t get the ball, so I feel as if he made a mistake.”

    simple message to tell and almunia is on borrowed time regardless of how many clean sheets he has this season; it’s when it counts that matters, i.e. not many would pain if derby got a couple back but 1 to manu is 1 too many

    2. adebayor just got to learn how to shoot – except his once in a season magic – frankly who would believe ade could get the same result if he were in gallas’s position? i doubt it’d be 2-2

    3. it follows we are technically short of arsenal grade strikers – and we need them this (not next) season; RVP is one (rather a support striker), eduardo is one but yet to be ready (still playing left flank for now), so who else is there really? walcott isn’t ready despite moments of billance, bendtner isn’t the main guy for a while so we are stuck with the hard working adebayor – scoring 3 (?) against debry is nothing compared when with what is expected of him against manu, liverpool etc. — who to buy? probably ain’t going to happen given wenger’s philosophy

    apart from these i thought we did okay not very good but suffice to get at least a draw or more – if our defence was tight manu would’ve had no chance at all given their performance (or tactic however you choose to say it) and it would have been an attack and defend game – one way

  6. Great match, and great atmosphere – particularly at the pub. Very relieved to see that United gained no advantage. Funny to see that the most threatening players on both sides were defenders – Gallas for Arsenal, and Evra for United.

  7. 2-2. Damn.
    I am disappointed with the result purely because of how confident I was beforehand. After coming back from their goals each time though, it certainly felt like a win. In the end, it was a case of one point salvaged – not two points dropped, like at Anfield. The match was extremely enjoyable even though we didn’t get to play our flwoing football often enough. Just the battle was good enough to watch for me.
    On the game itself now. I said this before the game – I don’t like the 4-5-1 system. And at home no less… I just don’t see Adebayor providing enough goals to midfielders or scoring himself with this system. If you check out you’ll see that Wenger has come out and said that the balance is not right without van Persie. I wanted to see a 4-4-2 and didn’t get one. I’m pretty sure we’ll see one against Slavia Prague and against Reading – so why not against Man Utd? I am not questioning Wenger and his tactics, or saying I’m right and he’s wrong. I just want to see what we can do with Theo/Eduardo up there with the big guy.
    Oh and I’m just amazed how Clichy can keep Ronaldo out of the game for 89 minutes and yet somehow Ronaldo gets a goal and assist in the one minute he gets the better of Clichy… Crazy.

  8. the fact that gilberto not interested in post match huddle really made me sad…he is not playing because of the sudden great partnership of flamini and cesc in the middle of the field…but he should be must come first…come on gilberto…we love you!!!

  9. Great game but i can’t help feeling that we dropped 2 ponts. Even though we had 2 come back twice. Just like at Liverpool we could have won but a miracle prevented it. Last miniute equalizer, just as all the manu fans were ready to start a gloat party, Gallas stepped up. We need a striker. Ade is doing absolutely nuffin. RVP is injured. Da silva needs 2 be plyed!

  10. haha sa gunner…..talking bout youngsters, im probly the youngest here(15)

    And im also from south africa!!!

  11. I was just as confused Fry. I was cursing the Arsenal for blowing the chance, and then the Arsenal players started celebrating.

  12. Hi all. Apologies for all the spelling/grammar errors in this piece. I usually publish and then proof-read the articles but yesterday my connection buggered up as soon as it went online. You’ll notice no photos either with this one. Things will hopefully return to normal for the next one.

    Harry Barracuda – What are you on about?

    Leroux – Keep the swearing to a minimum please. As SA Gunner said, young people do come on the blog and they shouldn’t be forced to leave because of bad language.

    ArsenalKenya – Anderson was nothing but an aggravator. For such a talented player it’s interesting to see that he seems to have been enveloped by the Manchester United culture already. If you get a chance to see the celebrations for United’s first goal you’ll see him putting his finger to his lips to “shh!” the Arsenal supporters. Then later his card waving antics to get Cesc booked were poor to say the least. Not a fan of him at all.

    useroz – Basically (1) I’m happy with Almunia as first-choice (2) I’m happy with Adebayor, and (3) I’m very happy with our strikers – I don’t feel we need to improve that area.

    darragh – It was a crazy night! I think I lost you towards the end in a drunken haze…

    Grant – Great points. It’s interesting, if we had come out with 4-4-2 we may have been hit harder on the break, but Arsene Wenger even felt that Adebayor was isolated. I think 4-5-1 was the way to go – I felt what hurt Wenger was his substitutions, Hleb should not have come off and Rosicky certainly should have. As for the Ronaldo quote – so true. He’s a class player isn’t he, but I still felt Clichy did an excellent job.

    443 – I’m glad someone was as confused as I was. It was such a funny situation.

    Phew, that took a while. Feels good to be back.

  13. Ferguson said “They got their second goal from pumping the ball into the box.”
    And this is what Hargreaves said “Both of our goals were beautiful pieces of play, but their goals were a bit more scrappy” I can sense a bitter taste in those comments.

    Ferguson criticised Arsenal for resorting to long ball for the equaliser ( Stupid) . he forgot about their ugly 1-0 victories at the start of this season. Gallas was right when he said teams fear playing Arsenal the reason I’m saying this is because of the way M.utd played. They sat back and hit Arsenal on the counter drawing everyone behind the ball at times. Can you imagine Arsenal doing the same. It would’ve been the worst game ever that is why M.utd V Chelsea‘s FA cup final was dreadful both teams sat back and no football was played. Luckily Arsenal played their normal football which allowed M.utd to counter attack. M.utd normally don’t play like this against other teams they tend to attack them from start to finish. They knew they couldn’t attack Arsenal the way they normally do and the reason for that: FEAR.. Once again I’ve seen Arsenal weaknesses in the air Giggs and Rooney had few clear headers and they didn’t put them away. And please Wenger get another Goalkeeper quickly. Almunia made some terrible decisions coming out 3 times flapping his arms in the air for no reason. And his throwing of the ball is awful.
    Overall Arsenal played well, just the way they normally played their football maybe a little bit cautious and not enough thrust upfront . But you have to give credit to Purple nose for almost getting the tactics right. I’m very pleased with the never-say-die attitude that Arsenal showed once again specially Gallas and that is why his is captain.

  14. most people thought Arsenal will win the game.. not even one TV pundits have backed MU. the fact that we were nearly beaten Arsenal at Highbury, is very encouraging.. OH has just recover from injury.. obviously, he is not fully fit.. btw, the discussion title should be, “Why Manchester United will not defeat Arsenal-becos Arsenal score late-late goal.. hehehehe.. we got this result at time when Ronaldo is not performing well(since early season) and shortage of fully fit midfielders.. that is something that you should think about if you are thinkin of becoming a champion

  15. I think Arsenal have every chance to challenge for the title. You’ve just come up with a list of excuses for why Manchester didn’t win against Arsenal. Just because your players aren’t performing well (Ronaldo, Hargreaves) is no guarantee that they will perform any better in the future. That is something you should think about if you are thinking of becoming champions.

  16. Viva gunners for passing your second test, the first one against liverfools and the second one agaist manure/manuseless united. For all the criticts, you have been proved wrong cause we are yet to be beaten at any competitive game. The other big test is still coming against cheliski but who is afraid of them? Bring them on and will teach the the best lesson of there lives. Any team playing against Arsenal this season, should know that the game is not over until the last whistle. If they thing I,m jocking,they can ask manureuseless or liverfools.
    Kenyan gunner a.k.a WENGER

  17. that’s the point!!! u are struggling to have DRAW with a depleted team.. hmmm well.. nevermind.. u wont understand anyway. lets talk again in 2mths time, just after AFrican Cup Nation.. btw, we are champion for now.. at least, till end of the season.. take this NOTE.. Ass-senal will struggling against midtable team in AWAY game.. from now onwards.. and it’s worsen durind Dec-Jan (African Cup Nation).. whose goin to replace Toure? Sanderos?? hikhikhikhik.. dont make me laugh.. btw, I’m very much addicted to this blog.

  18. ——— that’s the point!!! u are struggling to have DRAW with a depleted team.. ——–

    How can you refer to Man U’s team on saturday as “depleted”? I can’t even begin to make sense of that. The only main noticeable player who wasn’t present was Scholes…other than that you had the same team that has been ravaging teams on your climb back up to the top of the League……..I hear alot of Man U fans and players (even the manager) talking about how it’s evident that uall are still the best team right now in the league without a doubt…….and on the other hand ridiculing Arsenal fans for being content the draw on saturday at home……..One has to make up their mind…it’s either you stick to thinking you are the best team…or you say that you aren’t…you can’t think that you are the best team and ridicule a “lesser” team for forcing a draw out of the game…….A game is a game, regardless of wether it was home or away…..If my memory serves me right, Man U also drew at home this season…and it SURE AS HELL wasn’t to a team such as Arsenal….so why is it ok for Man U to draw at home to a “lesser team” but it’s not ok for Arsenal to draw at home to a “best team in the league” team?….amiaq_ferguson….your team was FAR from depleted…please don’t insult the intelligence of both team’s fans please.

  19. amaiq_ferguson – Who will replace toure?? Well we have Gilberto, Djourou or Senderos, so don’t think we won’t have a good CB cuz Gilberto is great in CB. Did that answer your question!!

  20. amiaq_ferguson – I’m glad you enjoy reading the blog. I enjoy reading your comments – they’re quite entertaining – but if you say something that I don’t agree with I will always stand up for what I think. And as BayBB commented, you were not a depleted side against us on the weekend. A 2-2 result was a good one for Arsenal because of the manner in which it was achieved. Psychologically it felt like a win because of the late goal and for Manchester United it would have felt like a loss. Regardless of who was at home or not when you’re in front with 10 minutes you expect to win so you have to ask questions of your defence.

  21. OK……ive been away but now im back…my view on the game is as follows–>

    Im a bit dissapointed in the draw because we should have taken all 3 points at the end of the day but that is football and a draw is acceptable due to the fact it was a away game….i nearly predicted the 2-1 united win whcih hurts a bit and i was correct on the fact united were gonna hit arsenal on the break and out wide……Ronaldo to me is inform..everytime he got it he had 3 to 4 players on him at once and for a guy to be so tightly marked and get a assist and goal is just brilliant in my opinion.
    United did very well in shutting out any rythem to arsenals game…The overall picture of the championship i think Arsenal WONT win it cause when it comes to getting injuries i believe they will have a bit of trouble later in the season…Also dont count out chelsea cause they are back….UNITED are the CHAMPIONS atm and hopefully will go back to back…..

    Spanish Fry…on Anderson..i thought he was one of uniteds best…his touches were of class and he got stuck in and thats what u want in a player…Cesc i really like him but my god he whinges to the ref ever minute, he is possibly the biggest whinge ever…he did have a good game though…

    I agree i thought Hargreves gave the ball away wayyy too much and was frustrating but thats alright he hasnt played hardly any games this season and he did do alot of defending for united….

    Also like to say Arsenal supporters carried on like a bunch of clowns at the pub i was at when they equalised….acted as if they had just won a world cup final or somthing….from what i see i feel quite happy to say Arsenal will NOT win the Premiership..

  22. hehehe.. i really love ur blog. btw, i must admit that my previous statement is not well delivered. There are two main players missing from 1st eleven, Gary and Scholes. Apart from that, depleted also refer to players performance at the moment. Eventhough OH and and Ronaldo did play, but their performance are way off their best. This is not an excuse. This is only a statement. Imagine MU game with those players at their best. That’s all. I personally would blame MU tactics. It’s not wise to attack a well structured and in-form team like Arsenal playing away from Home. Obviously Arsenal will attack, and MU should use this opportunity by counter attack Arsenal. MU can do this brilliantly becos we have the suitable player. 2nd, with 10 or more minutes less, the substitutions are really sucks. Carrick for Anderson!!! Anderson should carry on playing and Giggs should be replaced by Nani. In this setup, MU look very dangerous in counter attack. That’s all folks..

  23. Fair enough there. I never thought there’d be so many Manchester United fans onto the blog, but there you go. At least you’re not just here to swear and pay out all our players like many other people do on other Arsenal blogs. Just on what you are saying, I agree with you on many counts. I think things are pretty even – there is no way anyone can predict who is going to win the title at this stage. Arsenal have an advantage, because they have more points, but neither side can be discounted. Even Chelsea are back in the equation again. And yes, you’re right about Manchester United’s substitutions on the weekend, they were no good at all (except Saha).

  24. Arsenal played better. ManU had pure f*ckin’ luck on their side.

    Arsenal is starting to get on my nerves. I see this guy to be one of the most hated players in the EPL, will most likely surpass Ronaldo, Pires, and Van Nistelrooy in that department.

    Spanish Fry, you are the sound of wisdom. I don’t have any patience to reason with these manure fans.

  25. What for?

    For wanting to get stuck in and to show his manager he has what it takes…..his passing touches and tackling was excellent..CHRIS you are a ClOWN

  26. Seriously guys, no bickering. Non-constructive posts will have to be blocked otherwise.

    CHRIS – Just because someone supports another side doesn’t mean they are idiots. Unless of course, they say something idiotic 🙂

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