Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal: An imbalance on the flanks

I have deliberately stayed away from every football website and blog in the aftermath of last night’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester United with the hope of providing an uninfluenced account of the game.

First things first I don’t believe we deserved to win the game and given the statistics and the quality of United’s defensive performance I have to admit they did enough to warrant a victory. Just like at Old Trafford last season our opponents played relatively poorly but unlike that game, we did not play anywhere near the top of our game in an attacking sense.

Nasri was tightly-marked all night

So on this night when I expected our boys to make their defining statement to the rest of the Premier League, what went wrong?

For starters, we failed to create many decent chances. Perhaps only one, when Samir Nasri’s effort was parried by Edwin van der Sar and Marouane Chamakh’s follow-up was blocked, could be considered a genuine opportunity. United created very little as well: their rather fortunate goal was from one of two decent chances they created in the first half while I can only remember another couple, including Wayne Rooney’s missed penalty in the second.

We were not torn apart on the counter-attack as in previous matches against United and Chelsea as I believe Arsene Wenger was extremely aware of this happening and adjusted his side to protect against it. Rarely did any of the midfield trio — Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere or Alex Song — take any real risks to push forward and create an extra man in attack, such was the fear that United would simply nick the ball and race down to the other end.

In short, in an attacking sense, to accommodate for United’s strength on the counter attack I felt we played without courage. We set up a solid base in defence — in my mind Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci were superb, on par with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic — but our passing in the midfield lacked fluidity and our willingness to get forward was extremely stunted in the first half.

In a defensive sense I felt our balance on the flanks was wrong and it gave Nani, the player with the most assists in the Premier League, far too much space to go at Gael Clichy. The Frenchman is hardly the best one-on-one defender and to his credit he put in absolutely everything to stop Nani, but the fact is that the space afforded to him on right lead to most of their attacking opportunities, including the goal.

Andrey Arshavin had a poor game in an attacking sense, which was frustrating, but the real disappointment was Wenger’s inability to create a defensive system that focused on stopping Nani play. Should Nasri, a player who is in great attacking form but has far better defensive awareness than Arshavin, have been switched over to the left to help Clichy out? Alternatively, should Wenger have instructed Song, who was quite frankly poor in this game, to focus his attention on the right side of Manchester United’s attack to create less space for Nani? I think so.

There is a real gulf in quality between our two flanks at the moment. The most damning indication of that is that the flank that we looked more defensively-secure, the right, was also the one that we created most of our chances from.

One of the disappointments of the game was the lack of influence that Nasri, a player in the form of his life, had on the game. Although it is impossible to confirm from watching the game on TV, my thought was that he was getting man-marked tightly by Patrice Evra and often covered by an extra midfielder to nullify his influence on the game. Some may criticise his peripheral role in the game but by maintaining his width on the right and occupying two players for most of the game, he created space in the middle of the pitch for other players to work with. Unfortunately, as I already indicated, none of our midfielders were able to capitalise on this.

For a 15-minute period of the second half we raised the level of our attack to something closer to our best as Nasri and Arshavin began to drift, Chamakh continued to work hard up front and Wilshere began to move into more dangerous positions. Amazingly, just as we started to buzz in the midfield Wenger removed two fleet-footed players in Wilshere and Rosicky, replaced them with the less fluid, more technical Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie and changed our system to 4-4-2.

I thought this was a bad move at the time and when a clearly unfit Fabregas began to hit wayward balls and van Persie drifted far too deep to get involved in the play, my negative feelings were justified. Neither player added anything to the game and I thought it was a poor decision by the manager, born out of hope that our two players with the biggest reputation could provide a match-saving intervention.

In the end Manchester United managed to stifle our attacking play and did just enough to win this game. We were punished for playing a system that sacrificed our attacking creativity to nullify their counter-attacking threat, but even more so for getting the balance wrong on the wings and leaving Nani to run riot against an unfortunate Clichy.

The bright spots from this performance was the competent Premier League debut of Wojciech Sczcesny in goals, Koscielny’s superb man-marking effort on Rooney in the centre, Sagna’s flawless performance on the right-hand side of defence and Chamakh’s tireless movement and workrate up front. All four were standout performers in a scrappy, muddled game that favoured both defences and never saw us reach our creative potential.

I said before the game that this game was not about the points, it was about belief. In that regard it was extremely disappointing to watch our team fail to play to their potential and take the significant step forward that we all hoped they would. We will get another chance in a fortnight’s time at home against Chelsea and before then, our victorious opponents from last night also play the struggling league champions.

There’s a long way to go in this topsy-turvy season but this was another opportunity to make a statement missed.


Have your say on Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Manchester United by leaving a comment.



  1. A poor performance against a poor manure side it has to be said. Song was awful, giving away posession cheaply, constantly caught for pace after wandering too far forward to no effect. Sagna looked terrified and misplaced so many passes/clearances it was embarrassing. Chamakh looks tired and out of ideas. The CH’s both struggled to contain a not-match-fit granny shagger but just about did enough. Nasri looked lost. AA23 was at his most annoyingly inept again. Fabregas and RVP might as well not have come on – they were THAT ineffective. Theo is now fully back in Tony Daly headless chicken mode. Clichy was caught in posession so many times when he could have cleared it – sometimes it is ok to just hoof the fucking thing away!!

    And why didn’t Rosicky play? Oh – he did??!!

    Positives? erm… er… Chezny made a couple of decent saves and looks to be more commanding in the box than the other two clowns. Wilshere looked a bit out of his depth but at least he got stuck into the manure crunts. He’s probably injured now…

    Sickening thing is manure were there for the taking last night and we couldn’t raise our game to do it. Manure will only get stronger as the season progresses (they always do).

    As Wright says we will probably be top again this weekend… fuck knows how. Just shows how bad this PL season is, I suppose…

  2. The game was dull. Arsenal didn’t calve out good chances but the one clear chance fell to the wrong person at the right time( In terms of skills and creativity). If it were to be Nasri, Vanpersie or even Vela, that Chamakh’s chance would have leveled the course. Lets focus on the next game and take some positives from the defeat. Despite playing badly, they still stood tall.

  3. Positives from the manure game, is szezsny he is better than batty Al and Flappy. Guts full and fearless he is. Clichy was not bad but Arshvin was bad. Manure did not play well but they were disciplined, tight and compact. Arsenal did not turn up and did not crank up the pressure. Arsenal lacked structure, discipline and offense. Again we witnessed how weak, disorientated, luckless and jinxed this team is. Nasri on the wings where is the sanity? Arsenal is defeated by its own downfall not the opponents. A big game, a lot at stake but in response there was not any passion, drive or urgency on display. 451 or 4321 did not work. This shows this collection of individuals are not suited to work as a unit let alone as a team. Recap lost to westbrom, spuds, chelski now manure stoke follows then chelski. These 3 games will definitely end any hope of salvaging anything from this season. These 3 games will compel to go for the CC to redeem himself. Pity he did not get the same thank you as Big Sam received from the chairman. If we had Dein this mess would not have existed. Worriedly this pain does not stop here we have to wait until Saturday and next week for it to finish. The flair, creativity, ingenuity and entertainment aspect of the team is now obvious, boring, repetitive, tedious and an affront. Wenger is using the pitch as a cover-up how desperate is the man to blame the grass. You are right arsenal lost due to the grass! Cheers Now its the grass Saturday who will be blamed? Tune in for another exciting episode of wenger ooppppsssss!!!!

  4. great analysis as usual Andy. I agree with on the performance of our defense. They did well in my opinion too.
    As you said, it was necessary to provide extra support for Clichy (either by playing Nasri on the left or by using Song). I don’t know what to make of AA23. He’s by far the most inconsistent player in squad I believe. Very poor in the last 2 games following his great performance against Villa.
    As I said yesterday, we lost the game b/c we were overridden in the middle Fletcher/Carrick/Anderson were just too powerful for our men. We needed someone to pull the strings in the middle but sadly we didn’t have one.
    Still a long way to go in this unpredictable season but this particular game may prove to be an early six-pointer come May. We may be left kicking ourselves if we lose it out by a couple of points to Man U. Who knows?

  5. Let me start by saying congratulations to Man Utd, they deserved the win and earned it and Arsenal just weren’t themselves. But there a few positives to take note of from the borefest for both sides.

    Firstly, how good was Clichy against Nani! He was constantly on Nani’s heels, not giving him an inch of space and every time he stuck his foot in, he made sure he gets the ball and didn’t allow Nani to skip past like he has been doing with the rest of the leagues full backs. It’s a shame that the deflection off his foot had to eventually end up at Park’s head and in the goal.

    Secondly, and I’ve mentioned this before, I’m not seeing the passion in Cesc anymore. It’s pretty obvious he wasn’t a 100% and every time he tried to make a pass forward it was wayward or intercepted. I’d much rather watch Arsenal play the way they did at the start of the second half with Nasri in the middle and Rosicky out wide. The only good thing about cesc’s introduction was that Nasri got a little more space and time on the ball, but at 1-0 down to United, it’s hard to find gaps in their defense.

    Thirdly, and a big positive in the new pole in goal. WoShez as I like to call him, had a great game, looked confident and in control. he couldn’t do much about the goal and didn’t have much to do apart from a couple of shots and free kicks straight at him. It surely wasn’t the best game to judge his quality but the stage was big enough to make a young keeper making his debut in the league make a few mistakes.

    Fourthly, Anderson looked in good nick. I never thought I’d say that. He was strong on the ball and looked for the forward pass every time he got it. He’s surely not his direct replacement but he makes Scholes a little less missed. Carrick on the other hand is sewage.

    And finally, this wasn’t a top of the table clash only because City were sitting in the middle but it’s hard to argue that it was a battle between two of the premier leagues best. For a game of such intensity it was pretty tame, probably because both sides haven’t hit top form yet. Neither had a definitive striker who can guarantee a goal, neither had an enforcing, no nonsense midfielder and in the first half both teams looked like they were more interested in keeping a clean sheet than scoring a goal. That’s something you’d never see in an El Classico.

  6. Arsenal only seemed to spring into life with the introduction of Walcott, who injected verve on to the flank. He should have started on the right, Nasri on the left, in place of a poor Arshavin.

  7. …No umph from the attacking players. Arsahvin is so weak at that left flank this whole season. If Wengers not going to play Theo there, atleast do Emanuel/Vela/Bentner for flips sake i don’t care but Arshavin needs some serious bench time!

  8. Seriously, I’m starting to believe whenever we go down it becomes impossible to recover. I’m so sure if we scored first, the outcome would have been different. I was a painful loss that can only be forgotten if Man-U lose to Chelsea then we beat the hell outta Chelshit the weekend after.
    Lets cross our fingers we are not drawn against Barca, Real on Friday.

  9. @ gandiv – It was a poor team performance, particularly from an attacking point of view as my article highlights, but to run through the entire team and criticise virtually every player is unfair. The centre-backs contained Rooney extremely well, Bacary Sagna was strong on the right (despite some passing mistakes, a result of players higher up on the pitch being tightly marked and pressured) and Chamakh worked extremely hard but didn’t have supporting runs to bounce his usual passes off. In saying that I do share your frustration that as a team, attacking-wise, we were below-par.

  10. @ manthan – I don’t believe we lacked structure, just that the structure in one key area – the left side – was not quite right. We had a clear plan, played the right players in the right position and the simple fact is that we just didn’t play well going forward. There was not enough courage shown.

    On Wenger, he blamed the grass? He made a couple of comments on the pitch and whole-heartedly praised Manchester United for their defending. If Gooners are even going to manipulate the media to criticise Wenger, what hope does he have?

  11. When was Bendtner pushed so far away from the team ? Its obvious that he has to leave the club now, and is that the right move from Wenger? I think that Arsenal neede him against MU.

  12. @ MTY – Thanks mate, I appreciate the kind words. For me the positive was that Wenger clearly adjusted our tactics to prevent United’s counter. To a certain extent it worked, but like you and I both agree, the exposure of Clichy on the left was criminal. Perhaps some further adjustment as I mentioned in the article would have been enough.

    In the Champions League semi-final last season Mourinho put Christian Chivu, a central defender by trade, into the left side of midfield with the intention of clogging up Barcelona’s most dangerous attacking area, the right. It worked a treat as Messi and Alves struggled to find their usual space. Although this is an extreme example I believe having some stationed more on the left to assist Clichy would have been a good solution.

  13. @ Darragh – A fair point, but made in retrospect. I would have played the team we started with. Walcott made some impact when he came on but he is not yet back to his best and generally speaking, our forward three has been functioning well.

  14. I agree a lot with this analysis, not so much with the doom and gloom from some of the commenters.

    Look, I know people feel negative after a loss, but there’s no need to go overboard. I saw plenty of passion, drive and urgency. What I didn’t see was any attacking fluency, but then we were playing against a compact Man U side with 3 defensive midfielders, so it’s not exactly easy. And it’s weird hearing that Man U were apparently ripe for the taking when they’re undefeated so far this season.

    To be honest, I was expecting us to lose. I was hoping for 0-0. The most important thing was to see an improvement in defence, which I think we got. The back 5 played well, although Clichy had a criminal lack of support against Nani, and it was a pretty unlucky goal to concede. So overall, although I always hate losing to Man U, I don’t feel so bad.

    We’re very much still in the race. Oh, and what’s this about the PL being crap this year? Because the top 4 aren’t winning with monotonous regularity? Call me crazy, but couldn’t that be because the overall standard is going up?

  15. Clichy,Rosicky,Arshavin & Chemakh are not the real first lineup players for Arsenal.Arsenal still needs new players to hold Championship Trophy.How many years we have to wait? Tomorrow or When?

  16. Iam very disappointed &frusturated by the result.We r not at our best.I think we surely need to change our formation,two strikers up front &also we need a plan to play for every team,we will not win always with our own way of play.But nothing we can do ,but keep believe in our team .As a gooners what we have to do is support our team.

  17. totally agreed on your comments especially :
    ” I thought this was a bad move at the time and when a clearly unfit Fabregas began to hit wayward balls and van Persie drifted far too deep to get involved in the play, my negative feelings were justified. Neither player added anything to the game and I thought it was a poor decision by the manager, born out of hope that our two players with the biggest reputation could provide a match-saving intervention”
    Wenger has once again showed he gets his subs WRONG in big games.
    Disappointing and worse than that, not un-expected. 🙁

  18. That is the only conclusion. The tactical problem from our left and Nani creating from a tired Cliche. However, Nani never scored. It was Park-ji Sung. At some point we have to realize that United had to have a chance or two. I thought the result was unfair and we deserved a point. But, Chamakh just couldn’t get that ball over Vidic. Overall, it was a bore and not something I enjoyed watching. If I were to speak to Wenger post match I would have said “total football is better than Mourinho football.” Unfortunately, we played down to MANU and couldn’t convert on 2-3 real chances. It would have been nice to see Walcott on the left side today. Maybe his speed and penetration would have nullified ManU’s best (Nani). The reality is I think we purposefully gambled on the approach to the game. It was sad to see the Chamakh so isolated up top. Oh well. Live and learn. We have another crack at home. I saw nothing to be ashamed about.

  19. i cringed after seing the defensive mindset we were goingto be using. we don’t have the defensive personel to do that. i don’t think anyone can be surprised that this game was lost. it is telling when everyone says the “hoped” arsenal would show some belief and pull out a win, instead of the expectation that we would win. i can’t say i expect anything more than a hope that we produce any points against chelsea.

  20. My analysis of the game was this:

    1. In terms of physical combat (and some of it was), Arsenal matched Utd. Given the discussions about that in recent years, that’s an important maturation point.
    2. In terms of creative threat in the final third, Arsenal were poor. Just one clear-cut chance in 90 minutes and a lot of wayward shots from outside the box. Shows how good Utd are at defending.
    3. Piss-poor penalty decision. For the second time in two days, a wonder marksman takes a diabolical penalty after a piss-poor decision. Perhaps honour is returning to the game in the form of self-regulation?
    4. Szezceny showed he’s well capable of the big occasion – any questions about his temperament can be scratched. Next test for him will be his consistency. As we’ve seen both Almunia and Fabianski struggle there…….
    5. Arsenal still struggle with overall shape against Utd. The number of times Arsenal defender wins a header and it’s picked up in oceans of space by a Utd player is worrying. Something to look at perhaps?

    So the strange conclusion I drew from this match is this: Arsenal are showing they have the capacity to compete like champions, but the biggest question mark is their creativity against the highest quality opposition. The defence wasn’t terrible, but the five in midfield weren’t collectively tracking back sufficiently quickly to prevent Utd creating 5 clear chances on the break.

  21. From the very moment MU scored i knew the game was alllllllllllllllllllllllll overrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I only wish i could understand why Wenger can’t see why this potentially great team loose big games like this. Its totally down to the lack of mental and physical strength. Having to many light weight creative players in a team gives you this problem. They can only maintain the strength required for a few games at a time then they they either get tired or injured and loose games. Shortly after they have recovered, they put together a good run of 2-3 games, peak then get tired then injured and then begin to drop points once again. Wenger does not need that many creative players in his squad. The team is not balanced. End of. Man U are not even playing well but they can still hold Wengers boys at bay because of their more consistant mental and physical strength.

  22. Two main problems, Passing was very poor, and the left flank( Manu right) was
    the main fault in term of attacking, Arshavin was useless again, and defending he left
    Clichy exposed, useless again! substitution didn’t help either Fabrigass was not fit obviously and he was a waste of space, Rosiskey or Wilshere should have stayed on, Arshavin should have been substiuted instead to bring Eboue or Walcot earlier.
    it happened in Newcastle and Westbrom games when Wenger substituted Nasri instead of the struggling Fabrigass and obviously didn’t pay off again..

  23. Good dispassionate analysis. Thank you!
    I thought the match-up was a tactical-fest, and ultimately looked drab.
    We were not played off the park as compared to last year duel. There was some toughness and grit displayed in the tackles.Tactically, more cover should have been provided for Clichy as it was obvious their most attacking threat came from that flank(as you noted).
    Arshavin had a horrible day, and Rosicky was non influential as Nasri was kept quiet by ManU defence.

    Generally, I am worn out by some Arsenal blogs that go on about how Wenger needs to “buy” a new entire team, without any real analysis and understanding of what is happening on the field. They believe they are entitled to this opinion because they see the team on match-day, and know all there is to know!

  24. Manu were better team and deserved to win. arsene should stop talking of young team. the team is simply not good enoug to face top teams. arsene made matters worse going too defensive from the start. clichy and sagna can only run. Time to get rid of blundering song, a player who cant pass a ball. How he remains regular in the team is beyond my imagination. send arshwin to siberia. midfield is too lightweight to trouble top teams. nasri was wasted he should always play as central midfielder. cesc and van have gone off the boil and looked lost. it will be better to sell them and bring in players not injury prone as the two.

  25. @ Byo – Heh, it was a bit dispassionate. I’ve become a robot in these big games. I don’t think I can cope any other way. I noticed, quite bizarrely, that when Nani’s early shot flashed past the post the whole pub jumped up and I barely flinched. Have Arsenal damaged me beyond repair? 🙂

  26. Hmmm i wonder why we dont throw the entire kitchen sink at them in the final 10-15 mins ?? and specially after the penalty miss should have stirred up our boys even more to go out there and look for that equalizer, but i think thats what wenger tried by throwing in RVP, fabregas and wallcott but instead we lost our rhythm, yes i have to agree bendtner and wallcott would have been the better options for rosicky and arshavin, but not young wilshire i thought he played very well, and clobbered evra and stood right in the face of Fletcher, hmmm defense Kosc abs superb Clichy well he tried but he just doesnt scare wingers anymore unlike two years back.. I remember 2 years back when we drew at the Emrites ronaldo was initially deployed on the right but clichy was so good he had switch to the left flank. Well anyone for Vermalen at LB?? on his return and continue with squallci and Kosc i would.

  27. yes, but saying that Song should focus on the right side, it would make our attack and build-up play somewhat dysfunctional. Song as the DM needs to be flexible across the pitch, but needs to realise the threat posed by Nani and know that clichy will need assistance. too many times clichy was caught with Nani one-on-one.
    rosicky had little influence on the match…and I’m not against the wilshere sub because he’s 18 years old, and we want him to be healthy and strong for Arsenal for the next 15 years. he was getting battered about and was beginning to look a bit sore as the game went on.
    the team needed a lift, a moment of brilliance, and fabregas/van persie are two players capable of providing both of these things. in hindsight it didn’t work out.

  28. I thought before the game we should have played Rosicky on the left winger position instead of Arshavin in order to support Clichy, our weak spot in the defence. Wenger obviously missed that one. I also thought van Persie should start as our link player between midfield and attack, of course it would have been a bit risky but I think he was improving and he always is a goal threat with his counterattacking and shooting skills. Wilshere was a mistake starting and I really thought Denilson should have gotten the nod after good games recently. Wenger is the cause behind our bad performance, it played into Man U:s strategy rather than predicting their style of play and try a recipe to counteract it. It’s hubris to think we can outplay top opponents with tic-a-tac football, we aren’t as superior as FC Barcelona is.

  29. Extremely boring game and even though Man U won I don’t think they can brag about it after pushing everyone to defensive work except for the ailing Rooney and the electric powered Nani. I do however think Marouane Chamakh could have done better with Samir Nasri’s effort, when the ball bounced back to him the defenders were sliding away from him and he just needed a little composure to hold the ball and guided it through to the net instead of just blasting it goal wards (easier said than done hey).Stupid game though, but 3 points is 3 points

  30. why didnt he play Theo on his favourite wing, play Nasri in central midfild together with Song and Wilshere/Denilson. as for Asharvin he is very disappointing. once again we lack attacking potent

  31. Well arsenal fans the final analysis of this team should be given at the end of the season. But so far and as i’v always thought this team is not good enough, its hugely imbalanced.
    And so much excuses are being made on this blog, EVRA war right, the truth to most arsenal fans is no longer a matter of fact but a mater of opinion.
    The sad thing is wenger is not a tactician YES he made some adjustments but how can such a man who clams to be the professor not pay more attention to detail, Let me say this MAU was ripe for the taking am dam sure arsenal are just not good enough to take it. They were the game 1 nil but never were they in any danger of loosing or even drawing this game.
    I don’t blame the team because i think collectively were not good and its the managers fault simple as that.
    Nani got at clichy 1 on 1 too often and on the goal one of the midfielder should have come to double or assist that’s basic across WHAT THE HELL IS WENGER TEACHING THESE GUYS.
    A primary school team would know this don’t care what any one says but wenger has lost his cutting edge he should be coaching under 15 and leave this to a more tactically inclined person.
    On chamaka i think he is a real hard worker and credit to the lad BUT this is what you get for
    FREE he was never a goal sore in france why do you expect him to come to england an become one madness he is not an opportunist he doesn’t strike fear into defenders and is technically inept.
    BOY how wenger has gone so far away from what was a winning formula all arsenal top strikers had one thing for sure if nothing else and that pace it scares the blood out of defender look at walcott he has no technique and people question his awarness ( he gives them reason to ) but his pace scares people.
    our most successful period under wenger we had natural wingers overmars, pires not people who we convert it works some times most times it wont.
    Look at eboue prime example he was a fantastic right back wneger has tried to turn him into a midfielder now look he is done as a player totally lost.
    chamaka is not the solution to our striking problems and also not the overrated vanpercy he is not and will never be a finisher.
    We need a striker who is big strong and has pace he’s out there BUT will cost money and wenger will not spend for sure.
    SO the question should be has arsenal improved? The answer is yes!! but by how much? sad to say very little the rate this team’s improvement is going all the players will be in there thirties before this team is mature which would make wengers master plan viewed by many as a waste of time.
    And the problems don’t stop there the CL draw as well will expose us am dam sure.
    No birght spots for me we lost AGAIN am feed up of loosing, the goal keeper did well as most arsenal pl;ayers do first up then really show there true colors later.
    Wenger you blame the pitch BOY you got ball no matter where you play MAU or CHLS in space, on mars, in heaven or hell they’ll always beats us cause tactically your’e dead you should be out of a job.
    Arsenal i love you enev though under arsene wenger you seem more and more to prove we will never win the prem……..

  32. i’ve really had enough of people saying we wont win the prem under arsene wenger. we DID win this under arsene wenger so your stupid argument is false. I think Man U played 9 guys behind the ball with rooney up front. We find it hard to breakthrough when a Bolton or Blackburn puts 9 guys behind the ball. With Man U it is the same only the defense is intensified. I remember numerous times yesterday when the back four from Man U would get a foot in and cut off our final pass. Also i think the passing was pretty poor yesterday.
    I would find it hard to single handedly blame any one of our players (although this seems like an easy choice. Arshavin!! Song!! Rosicky is shit!!) The passing in the final third was not very incisive and therefore we couldn’t create many chances. Oh well

  33. Agree with a lot of what has been said here, particularly hemanth and Andrew.

    With regards to Szezceny, I don’t know that he performed better than what Fabianski may have been able to do in large part because he wasn’t really tested. Szezceny didn’t really have that much to do. However, and this may be unfair to Fabianski, I just felt better with Szezceny in the box. Again, Fabianski may have performed just as well given that Koscielny really did a terrific job of keeping tabs on Rooney, but I found myself not worrying about goal as much as I usually do.

    Also want to add hats off to Koscielny. Yes, Rooney may not be as sharp as he usually is in front of goal, but he is fully fit, still fast as all get out, still able to make great passes, still a very physically forward, and still able to make intelligent runs. Koscielny dealt with all of this, and dealt with it very well, ESPECIALLY given that this is the first time that he has faced Rooney. I also don’t understand criticisms of Chamakh. He got very little service and was isolated up front to deal with Ferdinand and Vidic.

    My biggest frustration with the match, aside from Arshavin (if Wenger is going to tolerate inconsistent performances and a lack of defensive effort then AT LEAST allow Vela or someone younger the opportunity to get in there!) was Song’s passing. After having watched much of the match again, I genuinely think that Song could’ve bossed the match. If he didn’t muscle the ball from someone, he was in the right place at the right time to intercept an errant United pass ONLY to make a bad pass himself. I just thought to myself, if only Song could make a decent pass or could pass just as well as Denilson that could’ve been the difference. Song had the ball at his feet at the right times in exactly the right places but just made terrible passes. This is not about criticizing Song for the sake of doing so. I just think that if he could become a better passer it could make all of the difference in matches like this when teams try to overload the midfield. Unlike others in the midfield, Song does not really lose the ball because he is dispossessed or muscled off of the ball. He loses the ball because he makes inexplicably bad passes. If he can just tidy up this part of his game, I believe that Song could become one of the top 10 footballers in the world. I thought he had a fantastic defensive match yesterday.

  34. I disagree with putting Nasri wide, defenders need only turn in only one direction to return to action. Also Tomas Rosicky was the only one of the three to do absolutely no pushing forward, nothing creatively, Wilshere and Song both played well. Tomas Rosicky was lost had no influence and was soon played & passed around. He’s a wide guy pretending to play centrally. Yet Nasri has to pay the price for playing all positions well. They had way better success when they weren’t predictable. About the 30 minute mark was when he and Rosicky switch positions and it had Man United lost. Why not continue to switch sides if anything with Nasri and Arshavin, it has given not just manchester a fit but every other team.

    A clearer answer at this point in the season is who should be out. I was of the school that AA should be out, but even though he had a toothless display he did somewhat buy into the team concept. Tomas Rosicky has to go. Basically Alex Song is Park without defensive support. Should Vermaelen find his way back into the line-up issues up fron will be an after-thought.

  35. @ Kel:
    Another “Wenger needs to spend money” rant! Where is an objective analysis of the match you saw yesterday? Or should we just do with with an emotional tome? One of them who always see the glass as half empty. You claim Szezceny who performed well will soon show his true color, Wenger is bad teacher, Eboue was a fantastic midfielder but a horrible back, ad anuseum….There is always a panacea for a “fan” who is tired of losing- find another team that wins ALWAYS to support.

    How one who sees the team on match-day can claim to know more than those who spend their every waking minute thinking about the team, know the financial situation of the organization, know who is available on the transfer market and how they can integrate into the team, etc etc, is beyond me.

    Me? I don’t claim to know more than what I see on match day, even if I have followed Arsenal for over 3 decades- that means I have been through some ups and downs of the club over the years.And I trust those in management position in the club.

  36. Well, I think in terms of points lost, it s really not a big deal…but the fact remains that we have a mental inferiority complex.. We have miserably to not only beat the big guns, but we can’t even put on a decent performance – and that is just down to mental aspect of the game.. How can Arsenal finish 90 min without creating a chance??? The likes of West Brom, everton, Sunderland are capable of doing that but us- Not once in the past 2 yrs have cause any sort of problems to United…
    We loose to Chelsea, man utd, tottenham..consecutively..!! That is a lack of Leader on the squad.. Team can perform, but who is the person on the team that turns around and yells: guys – this is unacceptable.. Don’t wear this jersey if u are not ready to play your guts out!! I know Wenger surely can’t do it!! And without that nasty leader, we are bound to beat the lower opposition but we will be failing at pressure situation games!
    I still love my Arsenal tho’! Like a good woman who annoys you, she is bound to satisfy you right at some point, and I don’t wanna trade her for no one!!

  37. To me, I noticed that our boys and yes they looked like boys showed intimidation and no courage what so ever to go for the win. and I blame this on AW. he doesnt seem to influence there drive at all. they looked like they played 120 minutes in the first 10 minutes of the game. they looked scared and no ambition what so ever. exteremly disappointing. the only player that seemed to show some drive was Jack Wilshere. he has a heart of a lion and tried to go for it. but the rest played like dogs with there tails up there behinds. I am sorry to see this and say this but I expected much more from them this season against our top main rivals, and they failed immensly. our away form was on fire and i depended on that to see that fire and drive they have on there away games. but all of that vanished once they stepped foot on the old trafford pitch. the good thing about this now that we are still second even with goal diff. but Manuer, can be 5 points ahead with that game in hand if they win it. what a lost apportunity like many this season, but so far for me, this topped the Spurs loss, because if a win came out of this game, the belief of this team would have been undistroyable. I truely feel AW is not pushing his players hard enough to make that “killer instinct” feel to go for the win. so diappointing. all we can do is look forward and hope our boys bounce back, in which they face a tough physical side now at home.

  38. We can keep on TALKING rubbish all day if we like, my voice is gone already. Fuck Wenger for playing Chamakh. When I say we dont score goals, this is what I meant. If we have been scoring, we would have done so yesterday.

    Barca tore Magreed apart cos of VILLA.

    Can we really compare Shrek to that idiot CHAMAKH? Shame on WENGER for starting the idiot in place of RVP. Now, in the second half, he plays two strikers and completely abandons the midfield when the tiger in the midfield got injured. Why introduce FABs, when he keeps on going forward and RVP has to keep coming deep to get the ball. This 4-2-4 is the most stupid thing i’ve ever seen a stupid manager play(esp. when he has the right players but doesn’t use them in the right places). Let someone question me. We’ve scored no goals against the top sides this year(Liverpool was an own goal). Wenger makes me hate Chamakh because I would be okay if he is used only as a sub.
    I keep saying it…SPEED IS KEY. Shrek gets the ball and our defenders panic, Chamakh gets the ball and no one cares. Our best player Nasri is either not given the ball or not played where he can get the ball.
    Walcott is 10 times a player Chamakh will never be, talkless of RVP.

    Why did he have to change to 4-2-4 in the second half? A formation started in the Carling cup and not played even up till 6 times this season. Is this guy mad? Is it so he can keep his beloved (FREE) Chamakh?

  39. How many people watched the match against Partizan? How many people see our matches consistently? Are people just shouting about the defense cos of what they read? Did no one see Chamakh? Why cant our attack score against such easy opponents? I’m not against Chamakh, (but its the same way some of you jumped at Arshavin and Nasri without considering that they are not even playing in their preferred role and Arshavin uses up his energy a lot easily). I only feel that by playing him, we loose playing another dribbler/runner (Rosicky, Walcott, maybe Diaby). Chamakh does not trouble any team, opposition defenders are very comfortable with him. Yes he scores tap-ins, but is he threatening? He does not shoot and now refuses to score them headers and kudos to him, Sagna has gotten better at crossing.
    Fuck the sick press, they dont know whats wrong with us, so they can only write rubbish.
    Fuck the stupid new formation(made to make Chamakh a 1st teamer), fuck the crazy tactics without speed up front and for making Arshavin and RVP run too deep just to get the ball. When do we now attack when those supposed to attack are busy in the midfield? Walcott comes in and because everyone respects his pace, he becomes a NATURAL THREAT.
    Focus people, we already know what the problem is, so what is everyone shouting about?

    When this new formation started in the Carling cup, I stated clearly here that I hope it was not to accommodate Chamakh cos RVP will certainly bench him if there was only one space up front. It is exactly as i said….anyone? Its just a sick situation. If we want to play like this, I said I would prefer Arshavin behind RVP with Nasri and Walcott on the sides and two DMs. We look completely out of sorts with this stupid switch and much less threatening. Adapting to a new style in the middle of the season when we are still having cohesion problems in the team with so many new players etc. Its just crazy right now, we’re supposed to be a force what with almost everyone fit (FABs & Vermaelen).
    We are very strong right now, but what do we do with very ineffective players in very wrong positions. What is CHAMAKH doing up front? What is RVP doing in the middle? Arshavin is a support striker, why make him play midfield? 4-3-3 was far much better with 3 in the middle, unlike now with only two(cos two are supposed to wide). Thats why I called what we play now a 4-2-4 instead of the 4-4-2 that the press is claiming.
    If we go back to what we played before and Song and Wilshere respect themselves and guard the back when the full backs go up, then the front three will rarely need to be coming back for the ball and the attacking threat will be there throughout the match. What we have now needs a lot of tweaking from the Professor and loads of concentration on the part of the players.

    Question me! I said all this earlier, are we seeing it now?

  40. @ GunnerBoss – Can you seriously watch your language. It’s so unnecessary and there are plenty of young people that read this blog. They don’t need to come here and here you speaking like this.

    As for your Chamakh comments, they’re utterly ridiculous. The guy has been superb this season, gives us a hard-working option up front and a great focal point and deserves his place in the team. Blaming him for last night is absolutely ridiculous – he received minimal support from midfield and was man-marked tightly by Vidic and Ferdinand.

    Calm down dude, your comments are out of line.

  41. Really nice analysis Andrew. I’m particularly glad you pointed out the great game that Koscienly had. He looks like an elf, but plays like a beast, really. If not for a few very high profile errors in previous games, I think people would have noticed by now just how good he is.

    But, I disagree somewhat with your tactical analysis. I think our problem in the first half was being outnumbered in midfield, which is where we should always dominate the game. By flooding the midfield — Park and Anderson effectively pressing Song– they negated our game. Our midfieldiers were to far away from each other to really support each other. Their game, on the other hand, tends to go down the wings with Nani, Park and Evra creating chances. Yesterday, with Park pressing inside, it was almost all Nani.

    I think that we became much more effective when Nasri started to float inside. This gave us numbers in the midfield and added fluidity to our passing, while dragging Evra inside and leaving Sagna acres of space to attack their right flank. I’m not sure Sagna is the best player to do this — I actually think Eboue would be a bit more scary going forward– but it was a good tactic. I hope we refine it. We could even ‘rebalance things’ by putting Theo on the right (like Nani, as a true winger), and Nasri as a false winger on the left. Again, Gibbs is probably the better fullback going forward to exploit this.

    If you think about it, this kind of ‘unbalanced’ formation, something between a 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 with one winger tucking in, was being used by Man U yesterday, is regularly used by Chelsea (with Malouda tucking in leaving space for Cole), and most importantly seems to be how Barca operates. They, of course, are our true referent. Like them, we have highly technical players who can operate in small triangles and not lose the ball… they then suck in defenders, leaving space on the sides and behind for someone to make a run. So, in short — numbers in the midfield– that is what we lacked.
    In the second half, Nasri drifted inside and pulled Evra with him. Our

  42. @ Andrew

    “The guy has been superb this season”

    Ummm no, he’s made the best out of situations that a lot of players could and would make. Chamakh is like the nurse that shows, up in an emergency, he is a sight for sore eyes but he’s NOT a doctor. He’s slow, he does at least change speeds but when your pace is at that of Paul Scholes at best that’s not saying much. When was the last time you actually saw him make a 10 yard+ shot attempt? He has served us well throughout a period of lack of size up front but at what price do you pay for aerial aggression? And when I say “aggression” I don’t mean like a one-dimensional Andy Carroll, I mean the teams not suited or committed to it, so its not helping him. And when that is the only real aspect he can offer (outside of believable dives from time to time), then it is a waste to commit so many minutes to him. The pitch is littered with his missed opportunities. What other player has had that many moments unseized?

    Does he deserve any blame? I don’t think so but in rightfully swatting down GunnerBoss I think you might have bumped your head. The only improvement I’ve seen is in tracking back and supporting the midfield occasionally. I would submit that by playing the lad so much he is breeding comfort, and ruined (what he didn’t ruin with his own mouth) Bedntner’s reestablishment arc. I mean, I’m pretty sick of the “received minimal support from midfield” excuse, it’s the same governor that all the school buses drive their routes on in this league. You don’t think that Rooney didn’t know that they were going to play 9 behind the ball the whole game? You don’t think that Marouane didn’t know that Wayne knew this as well? In these days that’s just not a reputable excuse with the amount of counter attacking that took place. Now…out of all the counters/build-ups we had (bad Song, Wilshere & Rosicky passes included), do you recall seeing Chamakh a part in any of them? The kid is good at what he does, he’s just not ready for prime time. I see the flashes and changes of speed, the cuts with ball to his feet, he just can’t pull it off under normal circumstances with EPL defenders. We had plenty of missed opportunities from a coaching standpoint…to the point of insanity. We were out prepared, they had a plan in the back, and it was only through the hard work of the elf and Clichy in many situations that it wasn’t worse.

    With the caps that Chamakh has had on this squad, let’s substitue an Odemwingie in there, how many goals do you think he would have…Or an Elmander? That should be the gauge. I love Cham-wow…hate the hair. We can do better, at this point it would make more sense to throw a Nasri up front or even a Fabregas…yes you probably think I’m crazy…sounds crazy. van Persie preferable.

  43. “I think that we became much more effective when Nasri started to float inside. This gave us numbers in the midfield and added fluidity to our passing, while dragging Evra inside and leaving Sagna acres of space to attack their right flank. I’m not sure Sagna is the best player to do this”

    @ California Gooner

    Thank you, what is this obsession with him throwing offensive posers up front? Did Rosicky come to Wenger in training and say “hey I played up front on my club team?” Not the old Thomas I grew up seeing play. That would be like Ron Artest going up to Pil Jackson and saying, hey let me play point guard/shooting guard. At one point, when Steven McManaman has to point out that all the mid fielders are running up to get the ball for service…one might thing Arsene would see this as well. Nasri probably touched every single part of that pitch, I don’t feel that Arsene had any idea or any scouting report…this game is to the point on thursday those boys better have a dossier on how each player should be played…Do you even think they had a plan for a Park playing as an attacking midfield defender? Did his heart drop when he heard that Berbatov wasn’t playing…knowing him he probably got happy, like the rest of the squad did…lack of respect. The funny part is, they probably get caught up in the whole SAF and Arsene don’t like each other…that’s the narrative SAF wants. Suckered again.

  44. The solution against Nani is not moving Song or Nasri to the left. It was much more preferable to move Wilshere to the left of midfield: he is left footed, very combative. He could easily help Clichy way more than the lethargic Arshavin.

    So I would play with Denilson and Song in the middle, Wilshere on the left. I would definitely put Arshavin on the bench. In a game that Berbatov is not playing and stubborn energy is everything, why the fuck is Arshavin playing?

    I think Wenger should have played a much tighter 4-4-1-1 with Nasri just behind Chamakh, Walcott on the right of midfield with Wilshere on the left of midfield. Nasri playing through the middle would also confuse the sheepshagger Evra and the fucking three-lungs Park who only scores against Arsenal.

  45. How does Chamakh motivate Arshavin and Nasri when he would not be able to get to the end of a pass cos he is simply not fast enough.
    Look what Diego Milito did to Barca last season, his MAD coach left him out and FIFA snubbed him completely.
    Because Wenger plays him, we say he is good. Good luck to you guys.
    I guess this is the same situation at Chelsea where the coach plays his favorites almost to the detriment of the team.
    I believe also that the idiot refs were against us.

  46. “I guess this is the same situation at Chelsea where the coach plays his favorites almost to the detriment of the team.”

    @GunnerBoss – would you happen to be talking about Kalou?

  47. @ Mr. Webber good article but i think we may have watched a different game that night. What positives do you draw from Chamaks performances. He looks a mere dummy upfront.@Gunnerboss you have made the best analysis on this blog never mind the langauge.@webber the word work rate seems to have lost meaning. I always enjoy your analysis but if you can convince me that Chamak is worth a starting place in the arsenal frontline then i quit being an arsenal fan.No defender is scared of this guy at all. On very rare occassions do arsenal score from set pieces like corners with headed balls.What is the difference between B52 headers and Chamaks. What link up play are you talking about. We want to see shots at goal, we want a vicious attack, we are looking for a forword thinking aggressive player. Look at Drogbas equaliser against Spurs then you will know what we are talking about.United were taking shots from all angles to our goal we were lucky enough not to swallow three again. What shot did Chamak take. Wenger must stop this stupidity and resort to our old tested strikers as they are by all standards better than this free agent from Bordeau who is not accountable for anything apart from his pay cheque.Have a look at the Interclub world championships and see TP Mazembe play you will know what they call attcking players.Chamak is mediocrity in box and costing us games while we silently swallow that the guy is good.Chamak was not meant to be a starter he is a bench player and not Bendtner. We need Vela to replace ARSHAVIN, we need Diaby to replace Rosicky always palying backwards, Denilson is a must fot the Chelsea game. V.Persie and Walcot are by all standards our lethal attackers and Bendtner the third choice. It cant be Chamak who cant even shoot by pretending he is waiting to link up. Wenger must stop this mediocrity, pretence and arrogance to the arsenal fans.The coach is stubbornly refusing to believe that his free agent is a midtable striker in the class of Zigic and the rest but not a top team.Something must change in the sysyem and it must be soon. Otherwise this seemed the brightest chance to win the premiership in 6 seasons.

  48. Nice review Andrew however i believe that you have missed one critical aspect – Wenger’s seemingly consistent inability to motivate a team. Let me attempt to qualify this sweeping statement. I have been priviliged to start supporting Arsenal since the first day of Wenger’s era and over the past few years the niggling feeling that he does not have a Mourinho’s or Ferguson’s(as much as i hate them both) forceful impact on a team during big games, has now been realised. The invincibles on the other hand always had natural characters within the team – Viera, Keown, Adams, Parlour etc. Within the current generation there isnt a single standout character in my opinion – when the chips or down or when we are at a big stage or when we are simply a goal down, you clearly notice the nervousness across the team. On the contrary everyone seems to be up for it either before or after a goal we score. I disagree with comments made by Wenger as well as voiced by many here that our intensity was high and we did our bit in that sense. Throughout the second half i could not, grudgingly though, admire the Manu reselience which was borne through a collective hardened stance based on belief. There was no belief in our team – no one making proactive runs to come to a ball when they are being marked so closely and no sense of urgency in the dying mins (despite the “patient build up” we are credited for). I dont think players like Clichy (god his reaction when he was down in the box and the look on his face gave the penalty NOT the referee) and Song, who according to me had the poorest game on the night in a long time, were or are terrible players and i believe it is their development mentally – the “stage” gets to them. Put them against a weaker team on the same night and they will be their natural self. That is my point – it is not their physical quality as much as it is do with their mental capability/ development in such situations. Couple this with Wenger’s lack of interest in tactical changes(risks) within a game, most often than not, to leave someone as tired and poor on the night as Arshavin till the 75th min and we deservedly are called “same old, same old”.
    In summary it would be extremely naive and totally wrong to conclude that the players are not good enough, we need to buy in January and that Wenger needs to go. Those who form this conclusion do not see the damage this could potentially bring that could just turn out to be irreparable. As in life most outcomes are combination of factors – on the night we didnt have our first team out fully fit in comparison to Man U(seemingly an impossible occurrence for us this season), we did not get up to our top intensity levels as we are still not mature mentally (which lies at Wenger’s door more than it does on individual players) and Wenger’s tactical inability to change/ react faster were the contributors to our loss.
    I am absolutely certain that there is only one person in this world who can bring back Arsenal to glory – it is the same person who is fully well aware of his constant criticism (no plan B and motivational skills) – Arsene Wenger. My take on his current predicament, with my limited grasp, allows me this conclusion – his desire to be different in his approach to the game (pure technical football) and consequently his reaction to the constant criticism of this – which is becoming a vicious cycle as he wants to prove everyone wrong, is tying his own hands. He, first and foremost, KNOWS that he has to change with respect to the conditions of the present (be more experimental tactically or invest in the spine of the team through the middle or work on the aspect of mental development on the current crop more consciously during games that need it) and accept that the ideal world of winning trophies with regular ease, with the current crop with our brand of football, may not offer the best probability. I trust his intelligence to make this a matter of time before one of the above changes occur. If it does come down to the last option, of faith in the current scheme of things with no change, and we end up in the top 4 this season(with CL next year) along with a scalable profitable business model that will be the single biggest distinguisher in the next decade for success – then so be it. I can wait for the success to reach us. In Arsene we trust.

  49. GunnerBoss – you’re crazy, Chamakh has been playing great this season.

    Arshavin – he just doesn’t look fit at the moment…so languid and lazy…frustration.

    It should have been walcott on the flank and Narsi central, perhaps rosicky up on the left.

  50. Thanks for the excellent analysis, Andrew. Personally I can never get my head round that much technical stuff so I’m always enlightened and somewhat surprised when I read it.
    – It just seems to me tho’ that the fergusbum has got our number. His teams come out, do their jobs and go home. It’s never interesting to watch but it works. And whether it be roughing up the pitch, ‘parking the bus’, trying to catch us on the break, or awaiting the inevitable penalty manure are awarded every home game – it works – so the end justifies the means. I never thought we’d win this game, expected to lose in fact, but I was still disappointed to see how easily manure snuffed out any of our chances. I certainly didn’t sense any real belief in our attacks, although that may have just been my projection. For what it’s worth I would have started with Walcott although I couldn’t honestly say that I know for sure that would have made a difference. Like others though I did find Chesny a plus point and I’m reading some great comments he’s made in the press today including claiming he psyched the fat boy out for his penalty miss! I love the kids attitude. He’s got IT. And by god we need IT.

  51. Is there some weird anti-Moroccan thing going on with these Chamack rants or something? Otherwise I don’t get it? I think he’s excellent. In this match, okay, not so fab, but then who was? How many goals did the 30 million pound pie-eater score in the game? None. How many sitters did he sky over the cross-bar? Yeah. That’s right.

  52. Andrew,
    While your tactical analysis is pretty fair, i think that the game was lost more in the middle of the park. Our midfield normally so dominant were totally outfought and outpassed. The tackles were almost non existent, or at least effective tackles. Arshavin not tracking back was a big problem. Clichy is just an enigma. He does most things really well and then messes it up. Song was useless, as you said, though more politely.

    You’re right when you say we defended much better. Rooney was basically invisible. I think we still haven’t got the balance right, between attack and defense. What suprised me though was that even after the penalty miss we just didn’t go full blooded into them. They were there for the taking. We just didn’t create enough. Nothing in fact.

    Something is wrong with this team’s mentality. I don’t think it’s lack of desire. It’s probably that having been punished in the past for going into such games without any fear (some said careless) they tried to be more contained and as a result just ended up with no drive. That can happen. What I’d be interested in is seeing how we play against Chelsea now. They should find that mental balance now.

    I have to disagree on Chamakh being a positive in this game. Don’t get me wrong. I think he has been fantastic for us. But past few weeks his form does seem to have dipped. Maybe he’s been overworked. I don’t know. He didn’t add anything to the team. The one opportunity he had to score he didn’t take. I think he should have scored that one.

    The positives were Jack Wilshere (also for kicking Evra), Wojcech Sczesny(spelling?), Koscielny for his marking of rooney, but failed in winning the header that led to the goal.
    I’ve changed my mind regarding the defensive pairing. I think it has to be Koscielny and Djourou. Koscielny is a brilliant marker, and Djourou can win the aerial battles. Clichy and Arshavin should make way for Gibbs and Walcott for the moment.

    To end I’d just like to tell all the Arsenal fans saying that Evra was right that they are pathetic. They’d rather help Evra stick the knife in than SUPPORT their team and their CLUB. Something that Evra abused.

  53. monday was a bad day in the office. But what a keeper we have. I dont see much wrong with us apart from song who is not the right player for DM. I believe kosh won everything in the air, and am looking forward to a match fit ramsey returning to replace song in January. A win on Saturday puts us back on top, with man u travelling to chelsea we could still be top at the close of play on sunday. Then bring on chelsea and wigan to finish of the year on top. It does not matter if we have not beaten chelsea or man u in ages, what matters is losing three games at home to silly teams…. which would have put us well clear. Faith is hard the day after but i believe in this team and know that 2011 will be very interesting.

  54. @Darragh – Are u Morrocan? Well, i’m an African and I NEVER talk about our players….you understand me? NEVER.
    Have you seen me talk about clichy? Do you think he does not do his work good enough? What about upfront? Have u been reading my analysis?
    Look here, I bleed Arsenal through and through….when we had the invincibles, I used to predict very ACCURATELY our substitutions. And people respected me for that. Same as yesterday, I predicted the Arshavin-Walcott swap when Chamakh should’ve been out. You guys talk about Arshavin…but do you know I would rather he were attacking than defending?
    I’m ashamed of you Darragh at especially the way you jumped to your conclusion and slanged me the way u did. I used to think you were very objective. I totally can understand Andy, I didn’t need to be abusive to the gaffer but this was the height of frustration(we dont score goals anymore)…We lost to Braga, Shaktar, Newcastle….
    People laugh at you, they say u seem to know more about your team than the coach. Back here, they say i’m the most realistic Arsenal fan, they hate talking to other Arsenal fans cos they argue just like some of you guys do here. Are you blind Darragh? I would recommend you start playing video games( not the stupid FIFA), I mean Pro 11 or Winning 11, Get involved in the tactics/strategy a bit, that should give you some perspective.
    Why jump at me when you had no answers to what I said?

    You really think Barca would have won their game without VILLA in comparison to the toothless Benzema? What do you think would have happened if VILLA played for magreed and Benzema for Barca? First of all, the Barca manager would not even start him. THERE, I said it.

    In our case, its more like “I brought Chamakh, I have to start him so people say I made a very good deal”. We are all complaining he is not starting Djourou, can’t we see the same favouritism at the back. Now, what about Diaby? Plays a whole lot of rubbish and still gets to start the next game or worse still, NEVER gets substituted.
    OMG, I love Chamakh as any other Arsenal player, but we need a REAL striker up front for goodness sakes.

    @All – What did the DEFENSE do wrong Monday night? If we can see anything at all about the defense, then why cant we say something about the offense as well? Rosicky let me down real bad, but guys do you know what….we have played exactly like this(Partizan) before with RVP coming to replace Rosicky in the second half …Rosicky was ineffective as well in that match, and we only gained any kind of momentum when Walcott came on. Now why do we need to play the same thing again here? When tactics dont work, why not swap players a bit…Someone suggested here Walcott should have been used on the left and I agree.
    Finally, do we really need to change to a new 4-2-4 formation mid-season, when we have 3 new players in the squad who were trying to understand each others game and perfect the 4-3-3 we hae been playing all along?
    I wish I could reply to all questions.

  55. It is so hard for me to summarise why Chamakh was good in this game that I’m going to try and do it as short as possible.

    Basically, he worked his arse off, moving the defenders this way and that and harassing their defenders as much as possible when we didn’t have the ball. My criticism that neither Rosicky or Wilshere pushed forward enough to make a genuine attacking threat centrally, it meant that Chamakh never had space to move in. He didn’t have an impact on the game – ie. he did not stand out – because the other players didn’t take advantage of his hard work. Like Nasri, who was quiet because he was tightly marked, other players needed to take advantage of the space that was being created as a result and it did not happen.

  56. To take the point further, if a team puts four players on Lionel Messi, no matter how good he is, he is going to struggle. But the space will be there for others to take advantage of.

  57. @Rilesh – Do you know we played two formations on Monday? When RVP came in, we started the new 4-2-4 formation. What pains me most was the tiger(Wilshere) loss in the midfield, we really needed him for any kind of solidity in the midfield cos FABs is more of an attacking midfielder(AM) these days. So, did you mean Song played rubbish 1st or 2nd half? Cos, in the 2nd half, he was alone in the middle there. Do you understand?
    Boys that were getting used to play as Wingers/support strikers are now being deployed as wingers(4-2-4)/MIDFIELDERS?(4-4-2). It is just crazy at the moment, so those of us that do not understand what is happening will always jump into conclusions. Couldn’t we all see that FABs was not fit enough, he could not run and nobody has criticized him or the manager for playing him…So, why SONG? All of a sudden, Ramsey has to come back and replace Song? Arshavin has to step out for Walcott? What seriously did the defense do wrong? They scored a very lucky goal and it was partly cos shrek was unmarked…so the keeper anticipates a lay-up for shrek and steps out to prevent it only for the ball to gazoogle up and behind him.

    Point is, we need Arshavin at all times whenever fit, same with Song, FABs, Nasri, RVP and Walcott. Our boys are very good, tactics on the day – WRONG.

  58. @Andy – Wish you luck with the analysis.
    1st off – Messi didn’t score in the classico cos of being tightly marked, but he laid up goals for the goal god(Villa) to score. What if Villa failed to score any? Do you think Messi would have enough faith in him to keep on passing? He would rather try to get to score himself and it would boomerang cos he is tightly marked. What happened at the world cup to Argentina?

    For Arsenal, those guys(Nasri and Arshavin) are fed up with Chamakh. Are you kidding me, they know this guys limitations are too much.
    They do too much to stamp their authority and it may work against the lesser teams, but against the big guys, you need supreme talent or you just have to be more organised to break them down. It takes all of everyone’s self belief(belief in the team) to do this. If you really believe ur man is gonna stick it in the net, you will kill urself to ensure you get the ball to him…this is my point.
    I’m out

  59. @Andrew

    Not criticising Chamakh at all. If anything this becomes a criticism of everyone else. But shouldn’t working hard be a minimum? Chamakh may well have done that, but he didn’t do enough in my opinion. As I said, this isn’t really a criticism of him. I just don’t think he was a key player in this match in terms of his performance.

  60. Yes, we didn’t buy Chamakh Andy, he came on a free. Even if he paid us money to transfer himself here, it would still not be worth it.
    Is it not money we want now? Let fools start paying ridiculously so they can play for Arsenal. We would welcome the highest bidders. WELCOME, all the rich fools to Arsenal.

  61. @ GunnerBoss – Nasri and Arshavin are fed up with Chamakh? Are you serious?

    “Marouane has already shown how useful he can be for us. He is a target man, can win aerial balls and is not a selfish striker. He can make assists for other players and he has exactly the qualities needed for the Premier League. I helped him a lot when he arrived – I knew him from playing against each other in France, but we also knew each other off the pitch. Marouane is a good guy, I like him as a person, so it was easy for me to assist him.”

    Your comments are just absolutely ridiculous mate.

  62. @ Shard – I’ve already tried to explain why I feel he didn’t stand out in this match. Rooney didn’t stand out either, if anyone noticed. It was an incredibly defensive match that was mostly competed for in the midfield and both strikers fed off scraps.

    This criticism of Marouane Chamakh — a player that has 10 goals in 20 starts for the club in his first season in English football, won six penalties and made numerous assists, has been completely relied upon with van Persie and Bendtner injured for a long stretch of time, has given us a more physical option up front and works harder than nearly every player on the pitch — is ridiculous, completely unjust and most importantly, plainly incorrect.

    I’m absolutely at a loss as to how people can criticise him so vociferously.

  63. I agree Andrew. Chamakh has been absolutely fantastic for us. No doubt about it. I never meant to criticise him. I just think he should have put that chance away. Also as regards your point about him being comlpetely relied upon in the absence of Van Persie and Bendtner, I mentioned earlier that maybe his dip in form (but with 1 exception, not in work rate) is a result of him being overworked. To be honest, such unbridled criticism of Chamakh actually baffles me.

    I’d agree with AhuraMazda’s players of the season so far and would probably add Wilshere at #3 there.

  64. I am not disagreeing with your comments. But the problem with Arsenal is the teams that they are playing are scared stiff of Arsenal, that includes Man Utd, they sticking five men across the midfield is not the really their way.United were determined not to lose and a lucky goal they got and they seemed quite content to keep it that way. True we did not play well, but there again Utd were not that great.
    We had this problem against Chelsea, you remember they went one up,went on the defensive, got a free kick then it was all over. Chelsea like Utd know let Arsenal have too much of the ball they will destroy you.
    The game on Monday night was poor, that disappointed me if it was a great game and we had lost and we gave it our best shot fair enough at least we tried.I know they have trown games away, especially against Spurs. But lets not be down too much, there is a long way to go.
    I’ repeat it again teams who play against us are scared of us, because of the football we play.

  65. I have thought long and hard since monday and I feel that something is amiss! This is the time for AW to shine.. we can talk all we like but it starts now! Nasri playing out wide was a disgrace and still can’t get my head round it. walcott rvp not starting or atleast coming on for more than 20 mins was a joke. schezney always did look class and should now start all games regardless, djourou should be along side squalli, asharvin should be dropped along with denilson and bedtner. Jan transfer window DCM and proper DCM and a striker. This all lands on AW and I admire forever what he has done for the club. However we need some tweeks and there is no excuses anymore. Someone here commented on cesc and jack and competion for places. I couldn’t aagree more! If you know you are not gonna get dropped how can that be good for anyone! surely its counter productive!!! Pat Rice is going in the summer and that is a massive time for us, Stevie Bould should get the job and maybe just maybe AW will actual realise!!!!!! I thank the stars that everyone else has had a crap season dread to think where we would be in the league otherwise

  66. Well Gunnerboss, I wasn’t trying to insult you. And while you might be the bees knees at predicting substitutes, I think you’re wrong about Chamakh. Clearly a lot of people, including Wenger, agree with me. Even Alan Shearer spoke very positively about Chamakh recently, saying he was a great signing for Arsenal. The fact we got him for nothing is a brilliant piece of business.

    It’s fine though, we can agree to disagree.

  67. @Andrew, would have to agree that Chamy did not get enough close support from the other attacking players, Rosicky in particular. In the game against Fulham Tomas was in and around Chamy through out the game. Giving Chamy a quick outlet, allowing us to take advantage of the CB’s being drawn out, and in turn exploiting the space in behind. Maruane work hard for the team against manure, including in defense of set pieces. Had a slight feeling it was going to be a slow and off paced game. Still can’t see why Sami is not played more through the middle from the start, especially on his current form. Even on an off day he looked most likely to do damage on Monday evening. Something like a 4-3-1-2, with Sami in the 1 slot behind the 2 forwards. Why not play Theo through the middle where his ability to get behind slower CB’s would be devestating. His finishing has improved this year and would only get better. Thoughts?

  68. For those doubting or putting the proverbial boot into Chamakh, consider this :

    Taking into account RVP’s lengthy spell on the sidelines, If Chamakh did not play for Arsenal, would we be in contention for the league? Would we be top of the table if Bendtner, Vela or Arshavin were asked to play as a lone striker, playing many consecutive games week in week out without a break?

    I don’t think so.

  69. First – Rosicky out! I’d be happy never to see him in an Arsenal shirt again.

    Second – it seems clear that Man U have a a psychological edge on the current Arsenal team.

  70. Second in the EPL, semi finals of the League Cup, Qualified for last 16 of ECL and FA CUp still to Come.


    FFS Man U the richest club in the EPL set out with a totally negative game to stifle our play and succeeded (again)because we were unable to alter our game plan to counter this style. Chelsea have succeeded in the same way. It’s frustrating and I do think Wenger is naive not to have a Plan B. Bringing on an unfit Fabregas smacked of desperation. When other teams are a goal down with the clock ticking down, defenders play as extra strikers, goalkeepers come up for corners and they seem to really go for it. We don’t even do that. I can understand why some fans get pissed off.

    I did like the cut of Sczesney’s jib though! he looks like he could be the real deal.

    On Chamakh, I am still undecided to be honest. At times he looks good, links up well with the midfielders and has scored some great headers, but he does look a bit slow and does not really impose himself on the defence. i thought Vidic and Ferdinand had him in their pockets all night. And for a centre forward he seems to have an aversion to shooting whiich is a bit strange.

    To me he looks like he needs a rest and bring RvP back in, or even NB52 who I still think is not as crap as some people make out. (Expect howls of derision at this point!)

    Anyway home to Stoke this weekend and a nailed on draw between Manure and Chelski and we are still right in it. This season is going to go down to the wire I think. Five clubs in with a shout at the title. Would never happen in Spain!

  71. The influence of Arshavin’s disinterest in defensive duties cannot continue to be ignored. Clichy suffers the most and it should come as no surprise that most attacking moves from opponents concentrate on that channel. Clichy is not the best when defending when going back towards his own goal and that is obvious too. This coupled with Arshavin losing the ball quite frequently does not bode well for the team. It is surprising how Wenger hasn’t spotted this incredibly obvious trend especially when one single player’s lack of defensive discipline affects the whole team, the result and ultimately the season.
    Arshavin is definitely lacking form at the moment but I still believe he is a creative genius and without doubt more talented than Walcott. The pressure for him to produce a magical pass EVERYTIME he touches the ball has led him to where he is right now. The best solution is to move him to a more central role alongside Fabregas in a 4-1-4-1 and push Van Persie to the wide position or introduce another player altogether (Rosicky, Eboue, or even Gibbs). And Arshavin should be made to feel more relaxed and free flowing as he was back in St Petersburg. He is definitely a man playing out of character at the moment and that has to immediately stop or his reputation would go the way of Reyes rather than Bergkamp which i still think is plausible.

  72. The refusal to analyse opposition formation and the continuance of half time team talks with “Just go out there and play to your best abilities” is just plain caveman. That used to work when we have super individuals who have football brains like Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp, Pires. When you are stuck with players like Denilson, Clichy, headless chickens like Walcott, unproven egos like Bendtner, fragile glass-like RvP, confused as heck CBs, you don’t tell them to play to their best abilities simply because they have no idea what the word ability means. You sit them down one by one; tell them when to stick out their leg; when to start running; when to boot the ball out when in doubt; when not to concede stupid dangerous fouls; when to shoot when clear as sky; when to pass; when to stick to your man and not roam about uselessly. It’s funny that we have the manager once nicknamed the Professor when all he does is more towards the Nutty Professor by Eddie Murphy. Get the fricking laptop out and work out the numbers the opposition has conjured in the past 10 matches. Don’t just say you’ll learn and move on; fricking play the DVD match again and again and again and scruntinse every individual where they have done wrong at which specific video frame! We are NOT playing eye-candy football mind you, so what in the world am I trading for all these years at the expense of trophies? Get ugly get stuck in, bring in the cups and give us bragging rights!

  73. Just read the lead article and the comments…like other contributors, agree part and find much else surprising…a few specific and general comments to add, much looking forward………

    * agree the general theme…we were poor and caused by ‘tired management’.
    * Walcott and RVP should have started.
    * Chamakh just not good enough…too slow…an up front goal scorer required…give Bendtner a last chance.
    * as usual, too much midfield passing, nothing incisive.
    * Nasri on wing…crazy.
    * Arshavin…been ineffective, casual and often poor this season…maybe support striker could be best spot for him.
    * Where are our alternative tactics, and for free-kicks and corners, both for (usually a waste of time) and against (often serious dangers).
    * Song…gone backwards this season…(get long hair back or something!)
    * Vermaelen…a big loss…Djourou should be in now.
    * Walcott…Wenger has failed him…Theo has weaknesses which a good coach would have sorted…primarily it is his habit of moving inside rather than moving wide to offer an option to Sagna. As for crosses…often, where are the other forwards?
    * Fab is more effective in midfield; he is not the goal scoring support forward we need…VP AA or Theo would be the scorer we need up front in support of the CF.
    * Roll on the return of Ramsey (hopefully no adverse affect for the injury).
    * Gibbs…would be a fine left sided midfield/winger…well worth a run instead of AA…Clichy would get more support than from AA.
    * Clichy…has now become suspect…too many serious errors.
    * Denilson, Diaby (and possibly Song now), are maybe ok…but not good enough for AFC objectives…just like Koscielny, Squillaci, Almunia, Fabianski, Ebouie, and definitely Vela.
    * Hopefully the GK situation will now be resolved.

  74. Guys @CHAMAK. Arsenal is a team known for high scoring even when the season is gone bad.We are not scoring enough but we are conceeding in bulk. What does that show? Chamak is not quick enough and doesnt have an eye for goal. Leave alone these tap inns he has scored for us. I challenge you to name any great goal from individaul brilliance of Chamak.Dont let me remind you of Nasri’s gola. Then you know what am talking about. People talk of work rate well he has it but is it enough for a top club trying to end a six year trop[hy drought.By what margins is chamak better than Walcott either for pace or sharpness at goal. What of Bendtner, he can shoot and can head the ball. Lets face the reality guys. How many sitters have gone begging at Chamaks hands leave alone his lack of sharpness in box. Tell me Drogba who is a fellow target man will squander such chances . A guy who rules him self off side against Toten ham while at goal is not a striker in all respects. What work rate ansd unselfishness are people talking about here.We have talented midfielders to create chances and a strikers role is to score. Chamak must improve or else the fans fall out with him. He cant shoot and lacks pace . Our original strikers can do better and i hope Wenger if he feels Chamak shoukd play then a 4,4,2 systm is a must. We cant rely on him as a lone striker . He is not good enough to instill fear in any defender.

  75. Hi there!! just my 2 cents. IMO, Fabregas is GONE. Now, the prime time for Nasri. He should lead the GOONERS. Sell Fabregas and build up your team.

    2nd, IMO Bendtner is much better than Chamakh. In Chamakh, Arsenal lost fluidity. Coz he hardly dribble nor passing.. hehehe.. He is a much less Drogba as Centre Forward.

  76. @panenka is sick. Sorry, but ur deranged and sick. Where is ur analysis and stats? Last time I read what u wrote, everyone that criticized Chamakh knew nothing about football.

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