Old Tricks at Old Trafford: Manchester United 1 – 0 Arsenal – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
Man Utd 1 – 0 Arsenal

Having climbed to the top of their Champions League group via a win away at Dortmund, The Gunner continued on their travels to Old Trafford, to face a United side which was finally starting to look half decent.[quote_right]”When the [half-time] whistle blew, Arsenal looked relieved – they needed respite, and a damn good team talk too.”[/quote_right]

Manchester United started the game on top, but Arsenal were looking extremely solid at the back, inviting and absorbing the pressure being dished out by Rooney and co.

Arsenal held on for a while, without really creating much in United’s half. But of course, at Old Trafford, you can never bank on a clean sheet.

In the twenty-seventh minute, Robin Van Persie rose highest to meet Rooney’s corner. His header looped over Arsenal’s defence, and into the far corner of the goal. The Dutchman showed his true colours as he celebrated with hatred in his eyes for the club that made him.

The goal didn’t necessarily rattle Arsenal, but it certainly didn’t spark them into life either.

For the rest of the game, right up until the half time whistle, Arsenal’s performance gradually got worse. Passes were going wrong, possession was being lost easily and there were almost no creative moved around the United box. When the whistle blew, Arsenal looked relieved – they needed respite, and a damn good team talk too.

The second half saw a bit of a role reversal, as United reverted into a defensive outfit, whilst Arsenal gained confidence going forward.

United made themselves compact, constricting Arsenal’s offensive play. The Gunners, although better than their first half performance, were still not looking much of a real threat.[quote_left]”The ridiculous decisions kept coming, and it wasn’t helping that Arsenal were playing poorly anyway.”[/quote_left]

Referee Mike Oliver made sure it was a true Old Trafford fixture by handing out freekicks every time a United player looked uncomfortable under pressure. The ridiculous decisions kept coming, and it wasn’t helping that Arsenal were playing poorly anyway.

As time ticked on Arsenal had their chances to equalize. Some half chances in the box trickled wide, corners were wasted and two very good crosses by Sagna simply weren’t attacked. It wasn’t Arsenal’s day.

After three minutes of injury time, despite two players (Szczesney & Vidic being knocked out cold on different occasions), the final whistle blew. Arsenal, by all means, should have done better.

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Szczesney: [6.5/10]
Didn’t actually have much to do. He met a few crosses well, and took one for the team by colliding with Phil Jones, getting KO’ed in the process. Got up and played on anyway.

Sagna: [7.5/10]
Bacary did well defensively up against Kagawa and Rooney, and also produced two fantastic crosses in the second half, both of which should have been converted.

Vermaelen: [7.5/10] – MOTM
Thomas was dropped in the deep end after Mertesacker was taken ill. He responded brilliantly, winning headers, tackles and looking dominant overall. Looked like his old self again.

Koscielny: [7/10]
Didn’t really put a foot wrong all game, despite playing on the “wrong” side of the back two. Managed to get himself forward once or twice too.

Gibbs: [7/10]
Kieran was solid defensively and got forward whenever he could. He almost grabbed himself a goal via a Sagna cross, but failed to throw himself at the ball.

Flamini: [7/10]
A decent performance, especially after returning from injury. Mathieu put himself about a bit and broke up play, but ony managed 60mins. Subbed.

Arteta: [7/10]
Mikel did a good job overall, but didn’t create enough going forward. With Flamini next to him, I’d like to see him venture slightly up field and help out attacks. Looked solid filling in for Flamini when the Frenchman went off though.

Cazorla: [6.5/10]
Santi looked completely off the pace. He couldn’t get into the game, and was basically a passenger. Although, he made one excellent pass to Wilshere just before being subbed off.

Ramsey: [6/10]
A poor Ramsey performance, similar to Cazorla’s. He misplaced an array of passes, didn’t make any intelligent runs, and wasn’t exactly commanding in defence either. In fact, replays showed RVP’s goal came as a result of him running into Ramsey’s “zone”, whilst the Welshman ran out of it.

Ozil: [6.5/10]
Like Santi and Aaron, Ozil looked lost for most of the game. His passes were actually of a poor standard at times,and he just didn’t look energetic at all. However, he came alive toward the end, hitting the side netting with a shot, and helping to organize some of Arsenal’s attacks.

Giroud: [6.5/10]
Olivier worked hard, but with his creative midfield three struggling to hold on to the ball, he had next to no service. Giroud won headers and tackles well, but was nearly always stopped in his tracks by the referee unjustly claiming foul play. Not a great game,but he couldn’t really do much more.

Subs:

Wilshere: [7/10]
Jack came on for Flamini and really tried to drive Arsenal forward. He put a spring into our step, but couldn’t make anything actually happen.

Bendtner: [6/10]
Nick came on and did nothing except miss a chance from two yard out. Sagna’s cross was perfect, Bendtner’s leg was late.

Gnabry: [7/10]
Serge came on looking to make a difference. He used his pace to try to assist Arsenal attack, and also helped out in defence.

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[title]Old Tricks at Old Trafford[/title]

It was the same old stuff at Old Trafford. Not just by the referee, but by Arsenal too.

I don’t enjoy blaming referees. It looks petty and knee-jerkish. But today, Mike Oliver gave ridiculous foul after ridiculous foul, breaking up Arsenal’s play in ways which Carrick could have only dreamed of.

But still, the real blame must lie with Arsenal, who were also up their old tricks. The Gunners looked timid, afraid to commit and nervous to create. Cazorla went into Hleb mode, passing at every shooting opportunity, whilst Ozil went into Arshavin mode, opting to take a rest during game time. Arsenal’s entire midfield was lazy and shy, and that is why the game was lost.

Thankfully, we still sit at the top of the table. Next up, an International break. Lovely.

What do you think of the Man Utd vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below!

Image: Arsenal

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