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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.

36 Responses to “The day we never got going”

  1. I.P. frpm South Africa says:

    I do not agree that it is ALL about reaction. This statement may be true with a large number of supporters, however, there is also a significant number of supporters who agree that this loss is not a disaster, however, it is enough to alert and remind the discerning supporter of the very clear voids in our team . We do NOT have the squad of quality players, that our manager like to refer to, to sustain a consistent onslaught on the EPL title. We urgently need to address this blatant void and NOT follow Ivan Gazides’ observation that we will see how we are doing and where we are in December and then decide on buying in January. This Arsenal team definitely require some serious attention in various positions. If we are serious about bringing our team back to the former glory days then we MUST become serious about strengthening the squad with REAL, PROVEN quality players.

  2. dammie says:

    Arsenal by far lack the killer instinct. We do not have real strickers that know what to do with the ball in front of the goal. We desperately need strickers of suarez calibre to maintain this “top of the table” status. Otherwise, if we fail to buy a stricker this january. Trust me, we can not win the league.

  3. Jude says:

    I agree with Dammie completely. Arsenal need a real fast and strong stricker like Suarez, Benzemer, Lukaku, etc. Giroud doesn’t have good ball contro & so cannot attempt to beat a defender to score a goal. He can only be a second striker. Then Bedtner is not usueful if we are really serious as a club. Liverpool/ManC/ ManU have 2 strong strickers, Chelsea has 4 & loned 1 out as Lukaku. Arsenal has only half a stricker without good ball control. Wenger should be serious for once.

  4. Wallace says:

    i’d hoped the momentum gained from the Liverpool & Dortmund victories might be enough to see us through yesterday. but losing Mertesacker was huge. not too despondent though. it’s only when we go behind against the better sides that our injured forwards are really missed.

  5. vedran says:

    Sluggish and clueless is the right diagnosis. Iwould also say that the last couple of games strongly suggested need for speed in the team for a healthy counter-attacking facet of our game, it was refreshing and indicative how our 18 year old winger could have won us the game if he’d been thrown in a few minutes earlier

  6. charlie says:

    we are lacking striking options. and I think team was jaded after such high profile games such as at Dortmund and Liverpool. I still believe we can push for the league. we need to strengthen a few area and that our injured players come back. we have the quality to achieve that.COYG

  7. Wazza97 says:

    Agree we wre sluggish I think it may have been a case of a big game too far in seven days. Yes it’s more about the reaction but let’s be honest since the Munich game at the Emirates our reaction to defeats has been pretty useful. Important to get the injured players back, being able to bring on a Walcott, Poldoski or Ox in the last twenty minutes yesterday could have made a big difference.
    http://www.notanotherarsenalblog.wordpress.com

  8. wilson says:

    Agree with Wazza97. I still think Arsenal need a striker like Pato or even ricky Lambert. I seriously don’t Benzema can help because he is out off touch and can’t do much.

  9. alfred says:

    I don’t like to read all these horrible comments about a team that has been fair enough this season..a loss at old trafford is not too bad for a team, I am so proud and happy about the way we played in the 2nd half though a bit jaded in the opening half but it is expected after some high profile matches in midweek..please let us focus on the positives and pray for our injured legs to heal..a january move for a striker is not too bad an idea though

  10. Elvis says:

    I too feel this is not a disaster. Losing at home to West Brom or away to Sunderland is a disaster.

    We were off colour but there are reasons for that. 1. This match came after two huge games. 2. There was illness in the squad – some of it on the pitch (Arteta, Gnabry and by the looks of it Ozil). 3. The bug removed our best energetic, pressing midfielder and our best strategic central defender. 4. Our three first-choice wide forwards (Podolski, Ox and Walcott) were all injured at the same time in a fixture that demands width in attack. 5. It is the hardest game in the calendar as GP says.

    Yet we were not humiliated as we were the last two seasons and we are still top of the league by two clear points. After 11 games, all 19 rival clubs would trade places with us in an instant (including remaining fixtures).

    We have always said we need a proper backup option for Giroud. We all know Bendtner is not it and is only at the club because we failed to sign a replacement of the required standard in the transfer window. If (and only if) we do some good business in January, I still think we’ve got a really good shot at the title.

  11. Ehis says:

    We definitely need a world class striker. Someone like Lewandoski, Diego Costa, Suarez. Giroud is not the man we need. Neither do we need Bendtner. We need a world class striker so Ozil’s efforts wouldn’t be wasted.

  12. Wallace says:

    In January i think our only options are paying an inflated fee for Benteke, or getting someone like Llorente – a good player on a big team not playing enough in a WC year – on loan.

  13. slc gunner says:

    Interesting the emphasis on our strikers in the comments. I think it’s a little unfair on Giroud to be fair. He may not be top, top class, but he is one of the better strikers in the EPL this season. We didn’t lose because of him. Our midfield didn’t provide any service. Ozil and Cazorla in particular were poor. I would go as far as saying that I have been a little disappointed with Ozil overall: he’s scored some goals, had some assists from set pieces, but the type of pass he was providing in the Sunderland game and have been few and far between. Maybe it’s the lack of a Walcott to make runs in behind. Don’t get me wrong: he’s been good, but just not quite living up to the expectations for a 40m player. I do agree that we should go after a 2nd striker in the window, but it’s unlikely that we will find anyone mid-season.
    Overall: neither team really created much. United had one chance apart from the goal: we defended solidly. Further forward, we were just poor, although we improved at keeping the ball in the 2nd half.

  14. Canadian Gunner says:

    Calm down folks…this ” buy buy buy ” crap is getting old. Gnabry could provide some answers we seek as we go forward. Un-deniable speed and quality…not to mention the return of Walcott…he just may get the chance to be the change of pace guy to lead the line that he seems to think he is. I also think that Podolski will have a big influence on the rest of the season. As for the Manchester game, if Mertesaker is there, that goal is not scored.

  15. I think Man U just struggled to beat, by one set piece goal, an off color Arsenal team that missed two crucial pieces – one in defence and one in attack. I’m talking about Mertersacher and Rosicky here. The loss of those two players upset the balance of the team as it forced a reshuffling that forced certain other players to be played out of position, while a new defender was brought into the defence line.

    Could Per have done anything about the ball RVP scored with his height? I guess we would never know. Anyway, my take away is that Arsenal, even on a bad day like yesterday, were able to go toe to toe with Man U, never appearinging in danger of losing until that goal. They could even have won it with any luck and less jadesd strikers. I don’t think there’s anything to worry about except the injuries and illnesses that have consistently kept out our players from games.

    Maybe we should look for more good players to improve squad depth come January and one of them should be a very good striker. And when is Theo coming back? This team misses his pace and ability to make runs behind opposition defences. I alsi believe he’s the one to bring the best out of Ozil.

  16. Idowu Adekunjo says:

    I quite agree it is all about reaction. But this reaction must be to little details if we must maintain our scintilating performance by the present squad prior to last outing which anyway was not so bad. Such reaction in my opinion is in two folds- psychological and physical. Was there any intimidating presence anyhow most especially when it comes to Man U and Chelsea, reminding them of past negative records and how best can this be handled psychological in our subsequent endeavours having in mind that records are there to be broken, afterall if West Brom can do it why not Arsenal. Secondly, an attacking side like Arsenal need not rely only on a striker still struggling to be counted on second class rated list if we must be respected. And if we must win laurels this season, there is no alternative than to sign two world strikers in January to compliment what is on ground.

  17. Lakadishim says:

    To be honest, I’m proud with the performance — namely in the second half — put by Arsenal. We were a bit unlucky in the final third. Perhaps, it was due to the two big games that the team had played; perhaps, it was down to the psychological factor that for 7 years we haven’t won at Old Trafford. The latter is crucial and those who’ve played football know this.

    I’m not worried about the team and quite confident they’ll bounce back. However, I totally agree that Arsenal need a top-class forward as we cannot rely on one man up front.

  18. PD says:

    I’m unsure where I stand on this. Yes, there were excuses (Per missing, the third game in a week, the lack of a wide player with pace etc) & I accept that and also the fact that we are still top of the league. But………there has to be serious questions asked of the manager as to why we simply cannot cope with Man Utd. Our record against them is extraordinarily bad. Is there another team in Europe who consistently finish near the top of their league who have such a bad record against one of the other top teams in their league ? I very much doubt it. Worst for me was the Groundhog Day like quality to the game. We’ve seen it over & over the last few years : they play a certain way – we don’t adapt. Must do better Arsene. A lot better.

    Cananian Gunner : perhaps what’s getting old is people’s increasingly desperate attempts to try to pretend there is a possible decent alternative to Giroud internally at the club. There isn’t : we desperately, desperately need a striker in January. Suggesting otherwise is utter nonsense. It may not be easy to do but it has to be done. To lose a chance of a title because we’re stuck with Bendtner would be disgraceful.

    slc, agree on Ozil. He’s doing ok, but we didn’t spend 40m quid for him to beat Norwich. He needs to step up.

  19. Lakadishim says:

    Canadian Gunner: Toronto, by any chance?

  20. akintomide says:

    to make a good impact this term is to be active this January. Giroud to me isn’t the best for Arsenal. I still cannot differentiate between him and Chamakh. To send Bendtner in reflects the weakness in the gunners attack. Monreal or Jenkinson would have been better.

  21. Macky says:

    Some so called Arsenal fans never cease to amaze me…we lost to current Epl champion in a duel they had first half & we had second half,scorin’ from a set piece with both sides displayed a strong defensive unit & some fluke fan sayin’ we lacked quality despite our injury pile ups…Talkin’ about reaction it sounds funny to me,what kind of reaction do you want again from this great club,we bounced back from Bayern defeat & produce scintillatin’ away performances till we met man u,we lost to aston villa reacted well which made us table toppers.we reacted well after chelsea defeat, went ahead to beat in form liverpool & a strong dortmond team..Arsenal just lost a game to a great team,why are people so unfair to arsenal?…man city with multi million pound team are not doin’ well,chelsea with strength in depth are not better,spurs alike ,yet sky did not fall.Accept it or leave it ,arsenal has a formidable squad with quality everywhere,what we need now is to buy a clinical cum dangerous striker in winter,maybe a defender & hope our injuried players are back on track.As for mesut drop in performance,c’mon,give this guy a break,EPL is fast & furious unlike la liga which is technically better,he is still adaptin’ & mind you in Epl nobody will give the kind of space you see in la liga..

  22. skillz says:

    I have read just about every mitigating circumstance out there given to justify our defeat on sunday…most are valid but none makes the defeat easier to swallow…as far as i’m concerned, it wasn’t so much fatigue behind the defeat it was more us choking on a big occasion and that is what annoys and worries me the most in equal measure..Arsene somewhat corroborates this by saying we suffered a bit of nerves in the first half..he was being very honest there ‘cos that was just the problem.. we were fluffing our lines on the big stage despite everyone out there wearing yellow being seasoned international pro, not rookies like Zelalem and Akpom! what if we get to the Champions league final then? are we going to let that once in a lifetime opportunity fizzle on the grounds of ” Nerves”?….We showed fight against Bayern&Dortmund….there may yet be another perhaps cup winning tie against United again this season (FA or Ucl) we must not allow ourselves rollover like this again…like PD said, Arsene needs to sort this ”ManUnited Complex” out fast

  23. Yero S Sabally says:

    This is not the end of the world, but for Arsenal to proof its pontentials Wenger must make decisons right, but not to look at cheap french nationals for Arsenal. That is not fair for the team and fans. Giroud is not a point striker, he does not have finishing skills, cannot drible one defender, easy to disposses, does not have good time, so what and why Wenger has to spent £12 million pounds on some one who cannot put weight on big matches.
    Bendthner is not in good form so where are we going and we cannot win troopy without beating the top four. Chelsea won at home and Man won away, and let me remind you lverpool was out from the top four long, so wining liverpool does still signifies much for Arsenal.

    we can see how Ozil react to some of failing striker action, he is some time furious, given good ball and 90% mishandle.
    This was manifested in Sagnia crosses (6 in number) non could be touch by giroud. He losses ball more 60% more than any Arsenal player, no goal,no possessions, no threat, so see wenger, this is not about national but game love by thousand of people and fans who really want to die for arsenal. so please be objective and live to expectation.

    Verm is Arsanal captain but he is not reliable defend so you only reliable Merty & co, this is the result you get now.

    Also never use the word nervous for the pitch, because it is a game so quality will prevail, whether does have or does not have quality. look finishing is the best you have to look for, Suarez cannot be compare to giroud as I heard you trying to defend Giroud, skills wise or goal scoring techniques.
    if you want Ozil remain an asset for Arsenal then look for a agile stricker, saving the pocket in anyway does not interest fans, but wining and trophies becasue you cannot justify being rich and begging trophies. this year we cannot even defend Emirate cup. AAh better ready or………..professional never try more three so.. i meant it is time or you depart if aging affecting the game. finally we assure that we are proud but….
    best regards
    Y>s

  24. Rio Bill$ says:

    I wonder what’s wrong with most arsenal fans. You guys seem to complain about just everything(even when there should be no reason to). Yes,we lost to man utd when we could have beaten them but we didn’t lose to them by being outplayed. For all the possession they had,they couldn’t really hurt us in the first half. I agree that we were quite nervous in the first half and I think it’s due to the fact we haven’t had a good result over there in a long while. Secondly,utd may lose to any of the other 18 teams in the EPL but when they play against the Arsenal,they tend to get some kinda mojo from out of space. let’s not forget that we’ve been playing without our natural wide players for some time now and that kinda restricts our movement of the ball sometimes. No matter how well we play,we can’t counter attack effectively without our natural wingers. Giroud was hardly fed any decent ball that was a good goal scoring chance. Instead of feeding poldi/walcott/ox on the right/left from defence,we are forced to play the ball to sagna,who hardly runs down that flank and whose frequent decision,is to pass the ball back to per or pass sideways. That way,we’re forced to play the ball in the middle of the pack and sometimes,end up giving the ball away… Sagna did well yesterday but our inability to score shouldn’t be down to Giroud. If the truth has to be told,the dude had very few decent chances. Santi and ozil weren’t in the game at all and we all know from what we’ve seen in the past few matches,what we miss when rosiscky and per are out of the team. This arsenal side is a solid team and with our injured players back,we can win the title. I’m very sure the game would have been different if we had the players we wanted on the pitch and if the bug affecting most of our players didn’t hit them. We had a solid second half and despite losing to them,I think we’re still stronger than them. Let’s give these lads the accolades they deserve.

  25. PD says:

    In our last 13 games v Man Utd we’ve W1,D2,L10.
    Worse still…..the win & the 2 draws all came in May. The two draws after Utd had already clinched the title, the win came while they weren’t mathematically yet champions, but it was more or less in the bag.
    Or to put it another way : the last 10 times we’ve played them when they actually needed a result, they’ve beaten us.
    Just astonishing.

  26. Wallace says:

    @PD – it is an abysmal record, but we had a similar hold over Spurs until recently. we are slightly unfortunate in that Rooney just seems to love playing against us, and RVP is always going to be fired up when we’re the opposition.

    a worry for me is that while i think we have 4 very good centre backs(inc Sagna) we really miss Mertesacker’s height when he’s out. the other three are all very similar to each other. take out Mert & Giroud and it’s a very small squad.

  27. wazza97 says:

    It is all about the reaction. yes we can all see there are holes in the squad that need filling and hoepfully that will be addressed in January. However, the group of players we have alreadyu have proved they can peroform at the highest level and beat the best. We just need to pick ourselves and move forward. We’ve shown we can do up to now, so nlets carry on

    http://www.notanotherarsenalblog.wordpress.com

  28. N7 says:

    IF….

    We make it to 1 Jan within 6 points of the leaders
    We buy a striker who settles
    Our players get/stay fit

    ….THEN….

    It’s on.

  29. N7 says:

    Ok reading my comment back now….perhaps within 5 points of the leaders rather than six.

  30. slc gunner says:

    @Wallace, I know you didn’t say that if Per had been there, the goal wouldn’t have been scored, but the tone from some of the other comments posted out there would suggest that Per would somehow have stopped the goal from going in. From what I’ve seen, we’ve adopted a zonal marking system on corners for quite some time now. And to be fair, it’s been quite successful. We conceded on Sunday, but not a lot otherwise in the past 12 months. The zone has Giroud towards the front post and really the ball was delivered in the space between Ramsey and Giroud. Maybe you could fault one of them on this occasion. Giroud has been excellent at defending corners in general: I’ve lost count of the number of times he has made front post clearances.
    What’s worse is that it wasn’t even a clean connection from RVP!

  31. Wallace says:

    @SLC – alas, we’ll never know. although maybe not a coincidence that the first goal we concede from a set-piece in ages comes in the first game Mertesacker’s missed in ages. he is definitely the organiser at the back. and yeah, i recall Wenger praising Giroud for the job he does at opposition corners in the build-up to the game.

    also, while it wasn’t his first quiet game for us recently, it does sound like Ozil was another of the players affected by the bug. i haven’t done any research on it, but my impression is we rarely play Utd without at least a few of our best players out injured.

  32. PD says:

    Utd had no Rafael, Ferdinand or Welbeck……..Carrick played injured (I would assume he was as restricted by that as any of our players were by illness)..they’re still missing Fletcher.
    The point is that run of results simply cannot be explained by injuries, refereeing or bad luck. It can only be explained by them being consistently better than us on a match day.

    Arsenal fans have simply got to get over this sense of grievance about injuries. Great teams get injuries & cope. We used to do it too.
    We won the league at Old Trafford without Adams,Pires,Bergkamp & Henry ffs. (and in the same season we had 3 keepers who played enough games to win a league medal – a feat which may never be repeated)

    We didn’t whinge, we just got on with it. As a club – the manager, the players & the fans – we have got to get back to that mentality…..

  33. Elvis says:

    PD; for the last 6-7 seasons we have not been as good as them. Or anything like it. They had more money than we did following our stadium move and we couldn’t compete. Ferguson was nice to us out of pity.

    This season we can compete. The squads are getting closer. On another day (say having had an extra day’s rest than them rather than vice versa, or recovering from Fulham and Sociedad rather than from Liverpool and Dortmund) we might have won that game.

    We didn’t – and there’s no sour grapes. But I detect a distinct lack of angst among Arsenal fans. No one is saying it’s not good enough and it has to change.

    I don’t think talking about injuries is an excuse. We are steadily building a great squad again and we are much better than we have been for a long time. But I think missing our three best wide payers at the same time did have an impact because you can never compete at OT without speed out wide. And I think that illness in the squad meant we were not at our best.

    We still ran them close though. And they respect us once more. Their fans are worried before games again – and relieved after them. We’re back. Or at least seriously on the way.

  34. PD says:

    Having only one of your first choice back four available for the 2nd half (when Vidic went off injured) did have an impact too I would suggest….

    My point is that we need to stop making excuses & prove we’re good enough. Talk is cheap. I really wish Arsene (& Gooners) would stop :
    a) talking about our team as if they’ve already proved everyone wrong (they’ve proved nothing yet) &
    b) always blaming someone/something else when we lose.
    (e.g. we’ve had just as many games decided by poor refereeing in our favour as we’ve had against us but a lot of Gooners think there’s some massive conspiracy against us which is utter nonsense)

    Things are looking hopeful but no more than that. I’d rephrase your ‘this season we can compete’ to ‘this season we look like we may be able to compete’.

  35. Elvis says:

    I suppose I’ll always tend to be glass half full. No, we haven’t proved anything yet. But we are going on unbeaten runs again and have the best record in the Premier League this calendar year. I know that things aren’t decided in calendar years and it feels as if we’re slightly punching above our weight but, if nothing else, it is at least a hint that Arsenal are no longer no hopers for the title. That is progress.

  36. PD says:

    And I unfortunately am always glass half empty. Or maybe that should be 7/8ths empty. In short, I’m a miserable bugger. But at least I’m aware of it – that’s good right ?

    Anyway…glad of the international break. Everything crossed for Giroud. Was really hoping he wouldn’t start for France tonight but alas he is….

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