It didn’t feel like Arsenal v United
ARSENAL 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 1
FROM GOODPLAYA AT THE EMIRATES
YOU KNOW how big an occasion the Emirates is hosting by the extent to which the constant standing that is most prevalent behind our “second half” goal sweeps round past the singing section towards the dugouts. Ordinarily, in our seats down by the corner flag you’d expect to spend the entirety of Arsenal v United on your feet.
But not today. I’ve never spent so much time seated for an Arsenal v United game. It wasn’t a conscious choice on my part – it was what we were all doing. It was disconcerting – a hefty something sapped from what is ordinarily such a fine occasion by the fact that for United the result mattered little. It was a strange, discomforting feeling, though arguably still better than them winning it on our turf, which would have just been hideous.
Of course in the best of all possible worlds they’d have come needing something from the game and left still needing something. But on the evidence of what we did see, I’m not sure I’d have fancied us greatly against a United side with something to play for.
We started well enough – our goal beautifully worked, albeit offside. It may seem churlish to criticise a successful finish, but to those saying Walcott took it well, I’d kindly suggest that anything less well placed would have frankly constituted a pretty poor effort.
But anyhoo. United were pretty woeful frankly for a while and there for the taking you sensed. And it was at that stage that I began to get a bit angry because I remembered that for everything A-list about the club (the stadium, the ticket prices, the wages), we essentially have just the one player who we regard as a striker and that is a fairly shocking state of affairs frankly.
United rallied, put one wide, had one well saved and then got the cheapest of goals. A sloppy ball from Sagna, a run from Van Persie, an attempt to recover from Sagna, me screaming from about 15 yards away “don’t foul him, don’t foul him, don’t foul him” and then, of course, a foul. I’m Sagna’s biggest fan but all in all that was pretty poor frankly.
After the break they probably looked most dangerous but we were game enough and fashioned a couple of openings ourselves. A draw was fair – it was one of those games where if either side had got a winner you’d have said they merited it but neither did.
A few observations on some of the players:
Van Persie: The sight of some things and some people on a football pitch make my blood boil. He is not one of them. For me, he had every right to leave: I’d have done it at the same stage. Going to United was hardly a huge punt on his part, but I struggle to see how one can begrudge him the move. Then there is, of course, how he left. Not particularly graceful I’ll grant you but changing jobs often isn’t.
But for me the overriding reason why it doesn’t really hurt is frankly because he never won anything with Arsenal (other than a bit part in an FA Cup triumph). Yes, he was once one of ours but it is largely in the winning of trophies that immortality is conferred. Without them you become the best player of a soon forgotten crop.
Theo Walcott: I hate to be negative and I am aware I am perhaps picking on him a little. But can someone tell me why he basically just stands there for large parts of the game, giving his opponents completely free reign to play around him. His goal aside, he was woeful for long periods and only sparked up when it appeared the Ox was about to replace him with five minutes left. His corners were utterly woeful too.
Aaron Ramsey: The way he gravitates towards the ball while others (see above) do the opposite, is now appreciated by the vast majority of the Emirates crowd, who realise it is better to make the odd mistake than never to do anything at all. I’m not greatly surprised: he is a useful player to have, a little Ray Parlouresque in some (but not all) senses.
Next year, I just hope this fixture is some time between November and February.