The day we never got going
MANCHESTER UNITED 1 ARSENAL 0
NO complaints from me here. I thought we started sluggish, stayed relatively sluggish and whatever the efforts on goal statistics said, you always sensed United were the more dangerous team.
I was alarmed actually by how we’d started. The SKY commentators were inching towards the “defensive masterclass” theory and it was true we’d denied any kind of real chance until they scored in the 27th minute, but for me we were failing to get some of the basics right and looked fairly clueless in possession.
For a long, long time, it was hard to really classify any of our forward movements as actual coherent attacks. We were living on a pass by pass by basis, with no real idea of where the move was going.
You can point to a myriad of things: Mertersacker’s absence, flu in the camp, Flamini in what seemed to me a bit out of position and Ramsey too. You can argue Ramsey hasn’t yet grasped my rule that when you’re not playing well, attempted flicks and dummies are far more likely to exacerbate the malaise rather than turn the tide. And that Giroud was far too easily bullied and that Ozil, not for the first time recently, was off his best.
I think credit must go to United too – as much for their second half performance as their first half one. They knew at half-time that we would inevitably improve after the break but in Rooney and RVP they had players who had seen it all before and knew that if they ran their socks off and galvanised their teammates and supporters, it would be hard for any team to turn around an Old Trafford deficit.
And so while we did undoubtedly improve and while we did manage to get the ball into wide areas and to Sagna in particular who put in some very decent crosses, this was an occasion where after 60 minutes I was fairly confident we were getting nothing from it.
It is not a disaster. It is one game. It is probably still the hardest fixture in the calendar and these things happen. It is cliched to say it is all about reaction, but I’m afraid we are a club where the reaction to defeat isn’t always great and so really it is all about the reaction. But that will have to wait until after the international break.