Manchester United 2 (van Cunty 3, Evra 67) – Arsenal 1 (Cazorla 95)
Man of the Match – Robin van Cunty (Arsenal…oops, Manchester United)
Ah! The worst of those Sunday hangovers are back, and another week of depression looms large, atleast for me. Having to go into work tomorrow, facing the banter of Manure fans, is the worst start to a week anyone can have. I wouldn’t wish even my worst enemy to suffer that.
Arsenal just failed to turn up. There was little in the match from Arsenal to suggest they were up for the battle. As expected, Arsenal named the same starting lineup that started against QPR, with Andre Santos keeping his berth at left back, and much to everyone’s dismay, Aaron Ramsey starting on the right side of midfield, ahead of the in form Theo Walcott.
Manchester United, as expected, as well, had van Cunty in the starting line up, and again Cleverley was preferred ahead of Scholes. Valencia and Young were on the wings, with recent reports emerging about a rift between Ferguson and Nani.
The pre match rumours were that van Cunty wasn’t even starting for United. He did however, and it seemed like the Arsenal players had forgiven him, as there were hugs and smiles galore in the tunnel. As far as I remember, only Bacary Sagna was the one who didn’t really muster a smile.
Anyways, the Gunners got to the most disastrous of starts. As usual, it was the same old Santos story, with the opposition clearly looking to devour the right flank. A smart flick by Valencia, played in Rafael, and his cross was met by a hashed up Vermaelen clearance into the path of who else, but van Cunty. The Dutchman duly obliged and scored, as he usually does.
All cameras focused on him, he didn’t celebrate, even as United players piled on over him. Arsenal barely got their game going. In fact, Manchester United were well organized and played a good pressing game. Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta was kept under wraps all afternoon.
Much of Arsenal’s passing was restricted to their own half, and probably there were more backward passes than forward. The dull first half, was only slightly ignited by Valencia, and Rafael who looked to tear Santos apart. Mannone made a couple of saves from van Cunty and Rooney.
Jack Wilshere tried to provide a spark, but even he looked subdued. He did pick up a yellow card though. It seemed to be going from bad to worse, when United won a penalty on the stroke of half-time, as Cazorla appeared to have hand-balled whilst trying to protect his face.
Luckily, Arsenal escaped as Rooney’s penalty was poor, and went wide. And at half-time, Arsenal fans were treated to van Persie giving a wry, or was it evil smile, as he patted Wenger and afforded his shirt to Santos. One of those days.
Arsenal almost started the second half as they did in the first, as a Vermaelen error wasn’t converted into a goal by Valencia. Arsenal looked to inject some pace, sending Walcott in place of Ramsey, and he looked bright as soon as he came on.
Arsenal had their first effort on goal, as Cazorla’s ball was met by Giroud, who only managed to strike the post. Arsenal looked a bit more decisive with their passing, and looked to create an opportunity here and there, but United were admirably well structured and hard to break down.
Arsenal’s own failures, meant Manchester United were looking to capitalize, when a Rooney cross from a corner ended up in the back off the net, from a Evra header. Moments later, the game was as good as over, when Wilshere was sent off for a foul on Evra, despite being given an earlier warning by Mike Dean.
United, looking comfortable, by then, were just happy passing the ball around, and though the introduction of Andrey Arshavin, did inject some creativity, it was too little too late. Eventually, a small period of pressure was converted into a goal, as Cazorla fired in a shot, from outside the box. A thing, of beauty, but it came at the final whistle.
There is nothing really I want to dissect from the game. We deserved to lose, and we lost. Was van Cunty right? Maybe so. Maybe not. Only time will tell.
A big word to the away fans, around 4000 of them, who were noisier than the 70,000 mugs at Old Trafford. But, again, they had to make the long trip home, with little cheer.
As Arsenal fans, all we can do is forget this defeat, and look forward to the Schalke game, in midweek. Sigh.
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