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Man Utd give Wenger hope

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Phil McNulty | 09:00 UK time, Thursday, 30 April 2009

Arsene Wenger is not renowned for his ability to smile through the pain of defeat - especially not against Manchester United and definitely not in a Champions League semi-final.

And yet here he was in Old Trafford's media suite, not exactly wise-cracking but certainly jaunty, exuding optimism from every pore, despite seeing Arsenal taken to the cleaners in everything but scoreline by Manchester United.

Arsenal's fans recite a mantra to Wenger as a sign of their cast-iron faith in his wisdom and ability. "Arsene Knows" is how it goes.

And he certainly seemed to know something the rest of us had missed as he dissected a semi-final first leg in which Arsenal were outclassed for long periods, then confidently forecast a victorious outcome after next Tuesday's return at the Emirates.

Wenger was stating the most unconvincing of cases, based on the evidence available at Old Trafford, with utter conviction - even openly inviting one non-believer to what he clearly expects to be a triumphant post-match press conference after the second leg.

And while some of Wenger's logic was hardly backed by a lengthy list of sound arguments - "football is like that" is not one of his more professorial pieces of reasoning - it was easy to see why Arsenal's manager was in unusually buoyant mood.

Relief. Nothing more nothing less. Good old-fashioned relief.

It was relief that Manchester United had somehow failed to transform total supremacy into nothing more than a single-goal lead given to them by John O'Shea at the height of a stunning opening barrage on the Arsenal goal.

almunia595_getty.jpg

Sir Alex Ferguson's side produced football from the heavens in the opening 45 minutes, and yet a lack of killer instinct that has surfaced this season means that while the lead they take to London is satisfactory, it is in no way decisive.

True they crucially prevented Arsenal getting an away goal, but Ferguson's slightly agitated, albeit satisfied, demeanour betrayed his own belief that this particular semi-final should already be done and dusted.

Wenger said: "I am convinced you will see a different Arsenal team next week."

They will need to be because if this Arsenal team turns up and performs like they did at Old Trafford, one thing Arsene will know with absolute stone-cold certainty is that his dream of winning the Champions League will have disappeared for another year.

Only Arsenal keeper Manuel Almunia stood between Arsenal and total wipe-out in the first half, saving brilliantly from Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo - who also struck the bar in the second half.

And yet Wenger will feel a 1-0 defeat is a fair exchange in return for the obvious gulf between the two sides at Old Trafford.

United's narrow victory margin leaves the door ajar for Arsenal, with Wenger hoping the inspiration of the Emirates and the undoubted natural gifts contained in his side will push it wide open and set up a Champions League final in Rome.

It was not just Arsenal's under-performing players who got away with it on a thunderous Old Trafford night when Manchester United's fans gave the lie to the oft-stated criticism that they sit and admire rather than back their team with noise.

Wenger himself had a lucky escape because he appeared to make rare tactical misjudgements in crucial areas. The deployment of Samir Nasri in a defensive midfield role was doomed to failure from the start, while Cesc Fabregas was neither here nor there in what appeared to be a supporting role to the jaded Emmanuel Adebayor.

Ferguson, in contrast, got it spot on. He went for energy and industry all over the pitch to complement the world-class talents of Rooney and Ronaldo. They worked superbly in tandem with Tevez in what was effectively a return to the format that helped to win the Premier League and Champions League last season.

Anderson and Darren Fletcher were outstanding in midfield. The recent heavy-legged look had gone from United as they played at the high-tempo that suits them best.

Of course, Wenger has every right to have faith in the ability of players such as that talented trio - and Theo Walcott will surely improve on an anonymous display that saw him removed in the second half.

He will also hope Robin van Persie recovers from injury to provide the rapier thrusts missing because of Andrey Arshavin's ineligibility.

And most of all, Wenger will cling to the belief that United had their chances here and missed them. United and their fans may have departed Old Trafford in celebratory mood - but at the back of their mind will be that nagging doubt that it should have been more than just the one goal.

Arsenal will take heart from that, but for all Wenger's bold talk, it will take a vast rise in the standard of their performance if they are to pull off the recovery job their manager believes they can.

United were superior in every department and the smart money will be on them getting a goal at the Emirates that will leave Arsenal needing three. It is a long way back from there.

But if Arsene genuinely knows, and he gave every indication of appearing to as he talked up his team's chances of over-turning United's lead, then Arsenal's fans may need to invent new superlatives for their spiritual leader.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    United were immense for the first 30 mins and deserved the win

    With Toure and Silvestre as centrebacks you always have a chance of scoring and a 1-0 first leg win should be good enough to take them through at the emirates....

    cracking game - well played

  • Comment number 2.

    To be fair Wenger is hardly going to come out and admit defeat.

    Personally I think it makes a refreshing chance for one of the Sky4 to lose and match and not have the manager blame:
    the ref
    the timing of the match and that their opponents got to play a different day
    the pitch
    dirty opposition players
    opposition tactics
    etc...

  • Comment number 3.

    Its difficult to see this Arsenal team, with so many key injuries to defenders, keeping a clean sheet.

    Man U should have killed the tie last night, but they look odds on to score at least one goal at the Emirates.

    Arsenal will also need to find a way to get Walcott into the game, or get Van Persie fit, cause in the end, one shot on target was no better than Chelsea's effort last night.

  • Comment number 4.

    If United score 1, Arsenal will need 3. Clearly, United are favourites to progress

  • Comment number 5.

    At 09:24am on 30 Apr 2009, norapeti wrote:

    Its difficult to see this Arsenal team, with so many key injuries to defenders, keeping a clean sheet.

    ---

    They've just set a record for clean sheets in a row at home..

  • Comment number 6.

    If liverpool had played that exact same match, then if Rafa said what Arsene said, he would be ridiculued... Arsene Wenger says it and he is considered a wise old sage... I think the guys lost it, Man U have the advantage massively...

  • Comment number 7.

    How can you keep saying United had total supremecy?! Did you only watch the first half?
    Arsenal should have equalised (if not won the game) but for their typical overelaborate approach work, especially around the box. They opened up United, only to then choose another pass rather than shoot. Walcott in the second half was a prime example. And when its van der sar in goal you have to test him because he really is not so great (what was he doing when he came for that cross and flattened Feerdinand?!).

  • Comment number 8.

    United will score in London next week and in the unlikely event, if Rio is out it may happen, that Arsenal score 3 Utd will score more. Simply put UTD are to strong for Arsenal.

    On the plus side of Gunners fans that Gibbs lad looks like he'll turn out to be twice the fullback Cashley was become.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great article as always.

    Utd should have wrapped the game up in the first 30 mins though credit to Arsenal for sticking it out and nearly equalizing with the Bendtner header. The match is nicely poised though Arsenal may regret not getting the away goal.

    On a different note, it was nice to see a referee who was not star-struck and initimidated by Fergie, his players and Old Trafford. The referee - unlike his weak Premiership counterparts - was strong in the face of constant diving and histrionics by Ronaldo. Howard Red and his colleagues should watch the video of this match and learn to let the game flow and not make instant rash decisions that have far-reaching implications.

  • Comment number 10.

    Utd were the favourites before the game and still are. No change there. Phil.

    We played too guardedly in that AW knows that without Gallas and Clichy our defence is very suspect, hence Nasri playing the deep role which is a waste of a player and nullifies Fabregas. Youre right in that Utd carry a goal threat as ever and no doubt could well score at Arsemal which will kill the tie as i see it. The point that you miss is that we know what we have to do now ie win 2-0. Playing with abandon is now an option and thats what we do best. Utd have to think tactically now as we did last night. It promises to be a night of high drama next Tuesday indeed.

  • Comment number 11.

    Smart money is on United progressing through away goals. Don't forget that United are possibly the best counter attacking team in the league, so its a tight call as to how open should Arsenal play especially considering any goal by United increases the difficulty of the task which is to win by alteast a 2 goal margin. It would be foolish to think United would not score at the Emirates Stadium

    Nevertheless yesterday was an opportunity lost similar to how they should have killed the tie of against Inter at the San Siro

  • Comment number 12.

    I see Ronaldo's has lost none of his diving skills ! It's a shame he tries to cheat because he is such a talented player. I often wonder what Bobby Charlton (a true sportsman ) thinks of him.

  • Comment number 13.

    Phil your blog seems to suggest Arsene is somewhat crazy for being so confident.

    The facts are, they are 1-0 down and have beaten Man U at home already this season. So i see no reason why he shouldn't be confident.

    Ok Arsenal were not great last night, but a lot of players were out of position. They will no-way play like that at the Emirates.

    But obviously Man U will now have the bonus of an away goal should they score so it will be finely balanced.

  • Comment number 14.

    The 2nd leg will be 1-0 to Arsenal and the game will move on to penalty shoot-out. God knows further.

  • Comment number 15.

    I really miss the days of intense rivalry between Man Utd and Arsenal. Both teams play some stunning football and Ferguson and Wenger are great entertainment. It's just not the same between Utd and Liverpool mainly because Benitez talks a load of rubbish week in week out and makes himself look stupid.

    Anyway as far as the game goes, Utd will be looking to score first at the Emirates obviously and if they go in at half time 1-0 you would have to say its game over.

  • Comment number 16.

    Poor old media. As an Arsenal fan I can only apologise for the fact that we didn't role over in the second half and let united win.

  • Comment number 17.

    The fear for the Gunners must be the fundamental fragility of the team. Sans Arshavin, they looked very underwhelming with Adebayor being particularly missing in action and Walcott being only a quarter as effective as our own Aaron Lennon down the right. Luck kept them in and - as football isn't chess - maybe luck will be enough to get them through to the final. If it doesn't, you have got to start wondering about them. It will be the 'the big three' plus Arsenal.

    I have been aware of the team from south London for many years considering my affiliation and I think they need a Ray Kennedy/John Radford figure to give the swarming, talented (give them that) midfielders someone credible to feed off. Let Adebeyor fulfil his long cherished dream of playing for Barca/Milan/Inter/Real and buy someone who can do that, not being hamstrung by Wenger's somewhat ageist purchasing policy.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think Wenger knows that the team did not perform and he is lucky to have escaped with a 1-0 deficit.

    It's a great bit of man-management to be able to instill his belief of the team back into the players. Next time, he'll need to get the tactics right to get both Nasri Fabregas into the game more.

  • Comment number 19.

    Fernando Torres...........that record counts for nothing. Currently Arsenal are depleted in defence, they were exposed many times last night by Man U , and recently by Chelsea and Liverpool. Unless they can find a way to improve that area of the game by next Tuesday, they will concede again in the 2nd leg.

  • Comment number 20.

    United are now back to their best - quality performance last night - that's 120 mins of good football - we really needed a second goal last night. Arsenal will have to play much much better than that and personally I don't think they will. They beat us 2-1 at their place and we won't put in another performance like that at the emirates. Arsenal really need some luck, they offered no attacking threat whatsoever last night so they may even need more than luck so I'm not too sure what Wenger is optimistic about. Fergie will shuffle the pack enough to get some players rested, I don't really think it matters anyway at this stage of the season, never seemed to do us any good 8 or 9 years ago.

  • Comment number 21.

    Considering how the match panned out I think 1-0 is a good result for Arsenal. It could have been much worse. Man Utd were by far the better side, their tactics were spot on, their energy was high and they bullied Arsenal from the middle of the park onwards.

    The problem with Arsenal is that they only play one way, they don't have the option of changing to a plan B. When the big games come up against top quality opposition the big managers seem to have them sussed out.

    Man Utd bullied the midfield not allowing them a chance to pass the ball, playing a constant pressing game high up the field suffocating the team forcing them onto the back foot. Chelsea played in a similar way in the F.A. Cup semi.

    Ferguson played a younger and more energetic side with Fletcher and Anderson in the middle with Tevez coming in for Berbatov. Alongside that there is Rooney's determination and enthusiasm and it is clear to see why Arsenal struggled to cope.

    What I don't understand is why Wenger is persisting with playing Fabregas in an advanced role in midfield. He did it against Chelsea and Fabregas looked isolated for most of the match. Surely he is better off in the deeper role given that he can play the ball under pressure better than the Nasri, Song, or Diaby. At least then, they may have had a better chance of playing the passing game they so stubbornly refuse to divert from.

  • Comment number 22.

    I thought the best thing about our display was the speed we showed on the break at times, it reminded me of why teams struggled against us so much last year. Ronney, Ronaldo and Tevez are just a nightmare for defenders particularly as the track back and try to win the ball so much.

    Berbatov adds something different to the mix particularly away from home with his ability to hold the ball up but think at home our best option is the three we had last year. That siad wouldn't mind seeing all four on the pitch a few more times, Ronaldo and Rooney wide of midfield and the other two upfront is a awesome prospect and given the workrate of Tevez and Ronney in particular I don't think we would lose to much defensively?

    Thought Anderson was excellent as well on thne break and if the boy learns to shoot he will be one of the best midfielders in the world in years to come.

  • Comment number 23.

    RVP will be back when the mancs come to London, he will make the difference, mark my words!

  • Comment number 24.

    I was praying for Arsenal to score an away goal and can only see this tie going one way now that they have failed.

  • Comment number 25.

    #15 Pulpgrape

    Firstly, I think old red nose is more than capable of talking a load of old rubbish himself. Whether the media chose to make capital out of that is another matter but I think the way that Benitez is often portrayed as the fool is disingenuous to say the least!

    Anyway, I wouldn't write off Arsenal now or at half time in the second leg. They are a very capable team and do create chances but Adebayor has to seems more interested in getting on the end of them unlike last night.

    Moving on, it's good to see that both semi-finals are still very much up in the air. Man U clearly hold the advantage over Arsenal as a result of their goal. We can talk all day about missed chances etc, but, and I'm trying not to resort to cliches here but it seems impossible, the only statistic that counts is the score line and a single goal advantage isn't alot with 90 minutes (+) to go.

    Likewise, Barcelona may hold a slight advantage because of not conceeding a goal but again, whatever the merits or otherwise of Chelsea's performance, the only statistic that counts is the scoreline and that is one that Chelsea would settle for (given all the pre-match talk about Barcelona being the best team ever, etc etc).

  • Comment number 26.

    Pragueimp
    The question is what game were you watching in the second half becuase Arsenal created nothing and got nothing

  • Comment number 27.

    I think it's simply a case that Arsenal just couldn't cope - the Man Utd players were well up for it and Fletcher imparticularly has to be given credit for his work effort.

    I'd expect Man Utd to put the same work in at the Emirates and whilst Arsenal will have more chances I think Man Utd will get a goal that will put the tie out of reach for Arsenal.

    http://www.worldfootballcolumns.com

  • Comment number 28.

    7. At 09:37am on 30 Apr 2009, PragueImp wrote:
    How can you keep saying United had total supremecy?! Did you only watch the first half?
    Arsenal should have equalised (if not won the game) but for their typical overelaborate approach work, especially around the box. They opened up United, only to then choose another pass rather than shoot. Walcott in the second half was a prime example. And when its van der sar in goal you have to test him because he really is not so great (what was he doing when he came for that cross and flattened Feerdinand?!).
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    You need to stop smoking that pipe mate.

  • Comment number 29.

    I agree that United are possibly the best counter-attacking team in the game.

    I can't see them not scoring against an Arsenal team who will have to come onto them at some stage.

    United score 1 - Arsenal need 3. I simply can't see that happening without Arshavin and Van Persie. United in the final I think.

    If United are to win the CL though, then their performance in finals will have to improve. I think it will take more than one goal to beat either Chelsea or Barca and they will certainly need Ferdinand fit if they are to do it.

  • Comment number 30.

    Credit to United, Fabregas Adebayour Walcott were all anoynomous. United definitely should be a few goals better off after dominating so much.

    If only Anderson could shoot...

    But at 1-0 I don't think Arsene is crazy for thinking his team is in with a shout. The tie is far from over. It's only half time.

  • Comment number 31.

    "Sir Alex Ferguson's side produced football from the heavens in the opening 45 minutes,"

    LMAO...Steady on Phil, they were good and very impressive with their energy levels, but lets not get carried away.

    When Wallcott finally got a ball he could move on to, he demonstrated what he can do and what Wenger will expect him to repeat in the home leg, by turning Evra until he fell over his own legs and leaving Vidic looking foolish trying to kick out at Wallcott's shadow.

    I believe Ferguson got things just right on the night, his tactics were spot on and he had them fired up from the start. He must also be resigned to losing Tevez after taking him off to be replaced with the Bulgarian blubberer.(one very upset Asgentinian bunny)

    Congratulations to the ref too, he had a cracking game, he had Ronaldo and his antics sussed from the start and for the most part kept the game moving with a smile on his face.(He was also seen smiling at Ronaldo's tantrum}



  • Comment number 32.

    16. At 09:53am on 30 Apr 2009, Piresistable wrote:
    Poor old media. As an Arsenal fan I can only apologise for the fact that we didn't role over in the second half and let united win.

    errr.... they did win?

  • Comment number 33.

    #15 PulpGrape

    "It's just not the same between Utd and Liverpool mainly because Benitez talks a load of rubbish week in week out and makes himself look stupid"

    Are you sure you are not confusing Benitez with Fergie here? No-one looked more stupid than him and big Sam when they burst into tears over Rafa's hand gestures to his own players!

  • Comment number 34.

    1-0 seriously flattered us. United outplayed us for much of the game and we're very lucky to have some sort of a chance in the 2nd leg. Almunia was magnificent last night but no one else really stood up and put themselves about. Second to every 50:50 ball, Adebayor was poor upfront, and playing long balls up to him against Vidic and Ferdinand isn't really the best strategy. We do have a chance in the second leg though; we haven't been beaten at home in Europe since 2003, and Van Persie and Clichy should be fit and we have some sort of a chance. But this tie is at the moment 70-30 in favour of Man United.

  • Comment number 35.

    It was men against boys during the first thirty minutes, Arsenal kept the ball better in the second half but psychologically they know they were second best...and that's the key. Rooney was tremendous.

  • Comment number 36.

    @Phil

    "Ferguson, in contrast, got it spot on. He went for energy and industry all over the pitch to complement the world-class talent of Rooney"

    Rooney I think is stretching it a bit far to be classed as world class. Good player but certainly not world class. Ronaldo is without doubt a world class player, hope he hits the br more at the emirates :-). I was not happy with the performance yesterday by my beloved Arsenal. Not sure if that was tiredness,nerves or a tactical ploy by Wenger. But in Wenger we trust a different Arsenal will triumph in the second leg. Man Utd should have taken their chances.

  • Comment number 37.

    The way Man Utd started last night, as an Arsenal fan, I feared the worst. Aside from Almunia, and possibly Sagna, we were all over the place and visibly rattled. Utd stretched us regularly and made no secret of attacking our left flank - Gibbs knows he was involved in a game last night. Once he got stronger, and Nasri tried to do more than defend, we started to make inroads into their half. I think the surprise effect is gone now and I cannot imagine that Utd will pull off that kind of performance at the Emirates. Sir Alex is right when he says that Arsenal could be fresher for next weeks game as at the weekend, we can put out another team. Hopefully AW will decide on only using one defensive midfielder out of Song or Diaby and give Nasri an attacking role again. Our forwards were too isolated yesterday, and Rooney was exemplary in helping Evra give Walcott a quiet night. If AW gets it tactically right next week, then Gooners everywhere have reason for hope.

  • Comment number 38.

    When everybody was ladling praise on this Arsenal team a month ago i pointed out that in the course of their 18 match unbeaten league run that they hadnt played anyone of note.
    I also pointed out that they lost there one truly tough game in that time (1-0 away to Roma).
    I also pointed out that we would know a lot more about them after they had faced Chelsea in the FA Cup, Liverpool at Anfield and United in the CL. Well they have lost 2 and drawn 1 and to be fair were outclassed in every game. Yes they drew 4-4 at Anfield but how ill never know. Just like ill never know how they "escaped" only 1 goal behind after last night.

    BUT i know the semi final is far from over. An early goal at the Emirates for Arsenal will immediately put them in the box seat, thats how quickly these ties can change.
    Arsenal will not change their style of play, onlyn the personnel if Clichy and Van Persie recover in time.
    United on the other hand need to learn from the mistakes of Milan in 2007. We cant afford to sit on what we've got. We need to play as if it was 0-0 otherwise we will hand Arsenal the initiative.
    Personally i would drop Carrick (hopeless last night) for Scholes and Tevez for Berbatov.
    If anything last night showed why SAF persists with Berba. He very rarely gives the ball away unlike Tevez whose first touch last night was shocking. I appreciate hes very "busy" and doesnt give the centre halves a moments peace but its composure and ball retention that will see us through at the Emirates.

  • Comment number 39.

    I must make comment about the moderation on these blogs.

    Users now expect blogs to be a 'real time discussion'. There is no point entering a comment on this blog if it takes 40 minutes to be moderated.

    The majority of blog users read the first few and the last few comments (based on forum and blog user studies). By the time the moderation has taken place, my comment is so far up the discussion board that it is not read by anyone.

    In all honesty the BBCs reputation would be better served by having no blog at all, rather than a poorly operated one.

    By hosting blogs you create a demand and an expectation in your customer base for a certain level of immediacy and an unbiased style. Your moderation system does not meet these most basic expectations of new media.

    If you do not have resources in place to meet the demands and expectations you are consciously fostering, that is a fundamental failing of your business plan. A mistake which if uncorrected will serve to undermine the integrity and reputation of your online operations and the organisation as a whole.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good result for United. Could have had more goals but on the other hand, we could have gone 2 up, relaxed a bit and shipped an away goal. Now we can go to the Emirates knowing that arsenal have to attack, are still likely to have 2nd choice defenders and that any goal we score is likely to be decisive.

    Not over but advantage United.

    The other key point is that it was probably our best performance of the season, against a team who none of the top 4 have previously beaten. If United play like that for the remaining premiership games, they will wrap it up without too much trouble. I also think Fergie pulled a masterstroke in starting with Tevez and he could well stay first choice for the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 41.

    This tie is over. I honestly did not expect United to win so comfortably yesterday. Arsenal were a big disappointment. I expected them to put up more of a fight and the likes of Walcott and Adebayor barely got a kick of the ball. Fabregas gave the ball away so many times, it was unbelievable. We should have won by a bigger margin but nevertheless, we can go to the Emirates and do the same again.

    The real question is, can Chelsea do Barcelona so we can have a repeat of last year's final? Barcelona v Man Utd would be the dream final, but we'd be much better off facing Chelsea again rather than Barca. La Blaugrana are truly the best team in Europe at the moment.

  • Comment number 42.

    33. At 10:18am on 30 Apr 2009, bozLFC0413 "Going beyond the pale" wrote:

    #15 PulpGrape

    "It's just not the same between Utd and Liverpool mainly because Benitez talks a load of rubbish week in week out and makes himself look stupid"

    Are you sure you are not confusing Benitez with Fergie here? No-one looked more stupid than him and big Sam when they burst into tears over Rafa's hand gestures to his own players!

    -----------------------------------

    No I am quite sure I am referring to Benitez and his ridiculous conspiracies about Utd and referees and his other rants that coincided with Liverpool surrendering their lead at the top of the Premiership.

  • Comment number 43.

    33. At 10:18am on 30 Apr 2009, bozLFC0413 "Going beyond the pale" wrote:
    #15 PulpGrape

    "It's just not the same between Utd and Liverpool mainly because Benitez talks a load of rubbish week in week out and makes himself look stupid"

    Are you sure you are not confusing Benitez with Fergie here? No-one looked more stupid than him and big Sam when they burst into tears over Rafa's hand gestures to his own players!

    ---------------------------------------------------

    The difference is, when Fergie makes a comment, United maintain or even improve their form. When Rafa says anything, Liverpool tend to dip. That's why Fergie keeps having a go...

  • Comment number 44.

    It used to be that in European Competitions an away goal was desireable - it is now starting to look like it is essential probably because with the way refereeing is these days good defenders(very few are capable of one on one defending) are a dying breed so counter attacking is a lot more effective making the home leg less of a banker - the exception being the ref in the Barcelona-Chelsea game.

  • Comment number 45.

    It's looking like a mouth watering final between Man Utd and Barcelona. Both Aresenal and Chelsea have a chance but both are slim chances.
    Barcelona are just too much of an attacking threat and so are United.

  • Comment number 46.

    #40 whatbill

    'The other key point is that it was probably our best performance of the season, against a team who none of the top 4 have previously beaten.'

    Didn't Arsenal get beaten by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final?

  • Comment number 47.

    I do not think that Arsenal will do wonders at Emirates. They have used their best players already in this match. There is no secret weapon.

  • Comment number 48.

    Thunderfoot

    "The problem with Arsenal is that they only play one way, they don't have the option of changing to a plan B. When the big games come up against top quality opposition the big managers seem to have them sussed out."

    If they've been sussed out by the top managers you'll have to explain to me why they are unbeaten against Liverpool, Man U and Chelsea in the league this season.

    We were poor last night, our top players did not produce, perhaps overwhelmed by Man U in the first half, however we had enough possession in the second half to remind the players that we can still dominate a team like Man U and hopefully next week we will also have more of a cutting edge.

    And yes, Gibbs was absolutely brilliant last night, young lad against top players on a big stage, turns in a very good defensive performance for a player who has only recently converted to left back. Fabio, take note, Cashley's continuing decline may not be an issue for long.

  • Comment number 49.

    #39 Chaddyroar

    Well said. Why Phil McNulty's blogs have to be pre-moderated when I think everyone else's is post-moderated is a mystery that has only ever been explained to me by a moderator saying that it keeps the discussion on topic.

    Frankly nonsense when compared to the problems you have highlighted with the timing and relevance of a discussion where a reply can take hours (literally in some examples) to appear.

  • Comment number 50.

    Although a United supporter I'm still distressed at how easily Ronaldo still 'goes to ground'. The referee gave him nothing last night even when Ronaldo was genuinely fouled. It's frustrating to see but it's hard to blame the ref. Ronaldo is wonderful to watch but he's a flawed (or rather, floored) genius.

  • Comment number 51.

    I still think Arsenal can turn them over - United's defence is still suspect (the two conceded goals against Spurs showed this) and they could be battered down. However, if United score it's game over.

    I think United-Chelsea final again this year ...

  • Comment number 52.

    re: 39. At 10:27am on 30 Apr 2009, Chaddyroar wrote:

    I must make comment about the moderation on these blogs.

    Users now expect blogs to be a 'real time discussion'. There is no point entering a comment on this blog if it takes 40 minutes to be moderated.

    The majority of blog users read the first few and the last few comments (based on forum and blog user studies). By the time the moderation has taken place, my comment is so far up the discussion board that it is not read by anyone.


    If you are not praising United to the skies then you will not be allowed on!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    #46 MrBlueBurns - fair enough, my mistake!

    Still a good performance though and no blaming the pitch this time round!

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    re: 26. At 10:14am on 30 Apr 2009, rchrdav wrote:

    Pragueimp
    The question is what game were you watching in the second half becuase Arsenal created nothing and got nothing

    You mean the second half where Arsenal were dominating possession and United couldn't get the ball back?!

  • Comment number 56.

    I think the game was a valuable lesson to the inexperienced players. You have to remember that the majority of that team were playing in their biggest ever match and if it was against any other team other than Man Utd you would have seen a much better performance.

    The first half you could see the jitters, second half they had calmed down and started to actually play football.

    Some key notes from the game are that the story of Man Utd continues again, only just managing a single goal from all that fire-power something is just not clicking for them. Although Almunia had a lot to say in that aspect.

    Second, Gibbs is going to be a great player with bags of confidence. Anyone else dare to nut-meg Mr Skills himself?

    Third, its only one goal, Arsenal will have key players back for next tuesday including RVP. A goal can come from anywhere so the tie is far from over.

  • Comment number 57.

    #53 whatbill

    Mistakes will be made, such is life.

    As for the second leg itself, Arsenal are still very much in this. With Man U's recent dodgy patch (dodgy but not necessarily costly I might add) I don't think they are out of the woods yet and surely Arsenal can only be better than last night.

    As I said at #25, I think everything is still to play for in both ties, even if there may be an advantage at this stage to one team or another.

  • Comment number 58.

    I guess we had a 1-0 thrashing last night and must hope for better things next week. Thank heavens for Almunia.

    With the injuries we are definitely short of good replacements. I just can't se how Diab(y)olical is even at the club. He seems to have no idea of what to do when he has the ball. He's either caught in possession or passes to the opposition.

    It's no good saying Walcott underperformed. He only had one decent pass all night, and someone really should tell Denilson what colour shirts his team are wearing.

    Adebeyour did little last night apart from som early running about, but again he never had a decent ball to him.

    I have to say that (in my opinion) we don't particularly miss Clichy. Every time I see Gibbs he seems to get better. Given the class of the opposition last night I thought he did very well.

    Ever the pessimist, I truly can't see us getting to the final but then perhaps we will play differently next week. Here's hoping.

  • Comment number 59.

    It seems United have turned a corner and have found form at exactly the right time. They outplayed Arsenal for long periods of the game and restricted The Gunners to passing the ball amongst themselves in midfield. Credit to Arsenal, they kept going and could have equalised. But even if Arsenal had levelled I feel United would still progress- they have become extremely effecient at "grinding out" fixtures away in Europe.

    Ferguson is right to mention this Saturday's league fixture- they will have to go for it. A positive result, however, will keep the new found momentum going.

    When is Cristiano Ronaldo going to realise that he doesn't need to play up? He has everything a player needs to be truly great. Every game we see flashes of genius combined with petulance. Sooner or later he is going to be sent off in a big game.

  • Comment number 60.

    @ #42 PulpGrape

    Benitez only stated what ever other manager and clubs already knows. Maybe that is why you prefer the Wenger/Fergie rivalry?

    As for our fall from the summit, if you think Rafa's outburst had anything to do with it, feel free. You would be wrong though.

  • Comment number 61.

    Ferguson's scared, that's why he's playing mind games. Arsenal were mediocre and are still very much in the tie.

  • Comment number 62.


    Now have a look at that. BBC's 'Chief football writer' claims "no-one could dispute United deserve the victory". There are even suggestions they deserved a bigger lead.

    Last night Barcelona had more control and dominance of the game, at least the same quantity and quality of clear-cut chances despite facing 11 behind the ball, lots more shots on and off target, a pen denied, and were more comfortable in defence.

    Yet according to the same people Chelsea deserved the draw last night, because of their 'bravery'.

    The British press are such a disgrace. You're not earning your money for your (lack of) sporting knowledge, but for stroking people's ears and backsides. Bunch of pussycats.




  • Comment number 63.

    ROONEY IS WORLD CLASS!!! THE BEST ENGLISH PLAYER WE HAVE!!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    Does anyone actually rate Walcott? He is explosive and has great speed but the bloke cant shoot, his short range passing is attrocious and what I fear for him is that his decision making is always incorrect. compare him to the much maligned aaron lennon. lennon has a better touch, as good speeed and can pass (yes 1 in three of his crosses goes to the wrong player but Walcott's crossing is far worse). media love walcott and so don’t bang on about his frailites. lennon has twice ripped evra to shreds and takes on and normally beats any full back in the legaue. walcott just doesn’t involve himself unless arsenal are playign a rubbish team at home. other than his great run at liverpool in the champs league last year, I seriosul cnat rememebr a good run of his away from home agst a decent team…….and I am not even a spurs supporter - just a supporter who thinks many of england's players are truly overrated.

  • Comment number 65.

    60. At 11:08am on 30 Apr 2009, bozLFC0413 "Going beyond the pale" wrote:
    @ #42 PulpGrape

    Benitez only stated what ever other manager and clubs already knows. Maybe that is why you prefer the Wenger/Fergie rivalry?

    As for our fall from the summit, if you think Rafa's outburst had anything to do with it, feel free. You would be wrong though.

    ----------------------------

    what, prey tell, was the reason from your fall from the summit then?

    And Nikos BG - please realise you are reading a piece of journalism from the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation - they are going to be slightly biased towards the Enlgish clubs dont you think? Man you must get through some salt and vinegar to have with that chip on your shoulder.

    How about for once you actually comment on the blog, and not your own tedious agenda - we have all heard it now, and get the fact you dont like English football, we have somehow only got where we are through Platini's wish (through the referees of course) to get us there. Say something different please!!

    Final point - the moderation does take far too long on Phil's blogs - but thank god it has improved from a month or so ago, when it would take over an hour for some comments to appear. Small mercies i suppose.

  • Comment number 66.

    I don' see how anyone can write off Arsenal, everyone knows how unpredictable they are. They were very poor at Old Trafford and lost by a single goal, if they play as well as they can in the second leg they could easily score two or three. Everything to play for I think.

  • Comment number 67.

    39. At 10:27am on 30 Apr 2009, Chaddyroar wrote:
    I must make comment about the moderation on these blogs.

    Users now expect blogs to be a 'real time discussion'. There is no point entering a comment on this blog if it takes 40 minutes to be moderated.

    The majority of blog users read the first few and the last few comments (based on forum and blog user studies). By the time the moderation has taken place, my comment is so far up the discussion board that it is not read by anyone.

    In all honesty the BBCs reputation would be better served by having no blog at all, rather than a poorly operated one.

    By hosting blogs you create a demand and an expectation in your customer base for a certain level of immediacy and an unbiased style. Your moderation system does not meet these most basic expectations of new media.

    If you do not have resources in place to meet the demands and expectations you are consciously fostering, that is a fundamental failing of your business plan. A mistake which if uncorrected will serve to undermine the integrity and reputation of your online operations and the organisation as a whole.

    ..............................................

    I didnt want this excellent post to be lost half way up the page where people wouldn't read it.

  • Comment number 68.

    If you ask me real time moderation isn't possible - the beeb have a reputation to uphold - particularly some of the banter is rather crude at times. However maybe they should think about removing the pointless rants all the time - praising United to the skies - I think not.

    Enough has been said about various subjects - Benitez says Fergie gets away with criciting referees yet and eveyone's off on one blah blah blah - when Jenas does it and gets called to account everyone is appalled and off on one again - blah blah blah.

    Fergies not allowed to say anything about referees according to benitez - eveyone goes off on about how right he is and how evil fergie is ... blah blah blah - David Moyes does it no-one (including the Media) bat an eye lid... personally i think that was genius from moyes.

    My point is half the comments are so blinkered and completely non sensical that actually I find these pages the most hilarious thing on the web.

  • Comment number 69.

    64. At 11:19am on 30 Apr 2009, yajusdonsavethose wrote:

    Does anyone actually rate Walcott? He is explosive and has great speed but the bloke cant shoot, his short range passing is attrocious and what I fear for him is that his decision making is always incorrect. compare him to the much maligned aaron lennon. lennon has a better touch, as good speeed and can pass (yes 1 in three of his crosses goes to the wrong player but Walcott's crossing is far worse). media love walcott and so don?t bang on about his frailites. lennon has twice ripped evra to shreds and takes on and normally beats any full back in the legaue. walcott just doesn?t involve himself unless arsenal are playign a rubbish team at home. other than his great run at liverpool in the champs league last year, I seriosul cnat rememebr a good run of his away from home agst a decent team??.and I am not even a spurs supporter - just a supporter who thinks many of england's players are truly overrated.

    ----------------------------------------

    Support Spurs by any chance? Walcott has far more end product than Lennon does and I think you have it wrong, the media hype up Lennon just as much. He had one good performance when Spurs beat Blackburn 1-0 and the media were crying "Lennon for England". What happened when he played for England against Slovakia? He was awful.
    As someone who watches Arsenal frequently at The Emirates I honestly believe Walcott is a more complete player than Lennon ever will be, Walcott can cross the ball, go past players and keep his head up. Lennon has no end product whatsoever and tends to just run into players or the ball out of play, doesn't score goals either. I don't have to even mention THAT performance from Walcott for England against Croatia, well I just did but anyway, to imply that Lennon is a better player than Walcott is laughable.

  • Comment number 70.

    GOOD BLOG PHIL....I THOUGHT UNITED SHOULD HAVE SCORED A FEW MORE LAST NIGHT AND HOPE THEY DON`T LIVE TO REGRET THEIR MANY MISSED CHANCES.

    I THINK IT MAY BE A UNITED/CHELSEA FINAL AGAIN AS BARCELONA ARE TOO ONE DIMENSIONAL AND THEREFORE TOO EASILY STOPPED(THEY NEVER REALLY CUT CHELSEA OPEN AND CHELSEA HAD THE BETTER CHANCE AS THE BALL WAS TOO HIGH FOR BOJAN HE WAS NEVER GONNA SCORE)

    KEEP UP THE GPPD WORK

  • Comment number 71.

    As an Arsenal fan all you can do is take last nights result and move on. The history of Wenger's Arsenal is one of battering teams and not always getting what you deserve out of games. On this occasion we will take the revers.
    A fair assessment of the game is that Utd dominated for long periods and should have scored more. Simple fact is they didn't.
    Arsenal can play no worse that they did last night and the expectation is for them to play a whole lot better next week.

  • Comment number 72.

    61. At 11:12am on 30 Apr 2009, Stuart_MCFC wrote:
    Ferguson's scared, that's why he's playing mind games. Arsenal were mediocre and are still very much in the tie.
    --------------------------------------------------
    what are you on, Fergie is scared?? go an sit in your council house.

  • Comment number 73.

    Nikos - You're right, I think Barca were the best team last night, they blew United and Arsenal away, despite not even playing. I suppose they could have carried over a few hundred square passes from the Chelsea game for all the good they did...

  • Comment number 74.

    58. boblinc:

    "and someone really should tell Denilson what colour shirts his team are wearing"

    I'm pretty sure that Denilson was an unused sub last night.

  • Comment number 75.

    I really miss the days of intense rivalry between Man Utd and Arsenal. Both teams play some stunning football and Ferguson and Wenger are great entertainment. It's just not the same between Utd and Liverpool mainly because Benitez talks a load of rubbish week in week out and makes himself look stupid.
    ---------------------------------------

    Oh and Ferguson never makes stupid comments or plays mind games...get a grip!

    Liverpool v Arsenal was a hundred times more entertaining than last nights match, add to that Arsenal didnt have van persie or Arshavin and still you only manage to get 1 goal!

  • Comment number 76.

    I'm sorry but in what sense did Man Utd 'take Arsenal to the cleaners'? The first half-hour United dominated and should have put the game out of sight but once Arsenal gained some form of composure United looked average the second half inparticular, Aside from Ronaldo hitting the bar Almunia had little to do, Toure was fantastic as was Gibbs who had "The world's best player" in his pocket.

    United looked tired in the second half, they seemed content just to hit diagonal balls to Rooney, United were far from free flowing, like I said after the first half-hour Arsenal woke up and looked quite comfortable, its just a shame they couldn't fashion a goal scoring oppurtunity.

    This tie is far from over United should have been out of sight but they aren't and they will regret not scoring more in that half-hour come Tuesday night.

  • Comment number 77.

    Does anyone actually rate Walcott? He is explosive and has great speed but the bloke cant shoot, his short range passing is attrocious and what I fear for him is that his decision making is always incorrect. compare him to the much maligned aaron lennon. lennon has a better touch, as good speeed and can pass (yes 1 in three of his crosses goes to the wrong player but Walcott's crossing is far worse). media love walcott and so don?t bang on about his frailites. lennon has twice ripped evra to shreds and takes on and normally beats any full back in the legaue. walcott just doesn?t involve himself unless arsenal are playign a rubbish team at home. other than his great run at liverpool in the champs league last year, I seriosul cnat rememebr a good run of his away from home agst a decent team??.and I am not even a spurs supporter - just a supporter who thinks many of england's players are truly overrated.

    ----------------------------------------

    Support Spurs by any chance? Walcott has far more end product than Lennon does and I think you have it wrong, the media hype up Lennon just as much. He had one good performance when Spurs beat Blackburn 1-0 and the media were crying "Lennon for England". What happened when he played for England against Slovakia? He was awful.
    As someone who watches Arsenal frequently at The Emirates I honestly believe Walcott is a more complete player than Lennon ever will be, Walcott can cross the ball, go past players and keep his head up. Lennon has no end product whatsoever and tends to just run into players or the ball out of play, doesn't score goals either. I don't have to even mention THAT performance from Walcott for England against Croatia, well I just did but anyway, to imply that Lennon is a better player than Walcott is laughable.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    read- my post. i said i was not a spurs fan. I support the glory hornets (watford) so trust me mate, I don’t care either way about spurs or arsenal. I just think walcott is avergae. and my gooner mates who hold season tickets tend to agree. as for you telling me he gets his head up, that is a very funny joke. don't particularly rate lennon either just can tbeleive people saying how good walcott is when he never influences a game.

  • Comment number 78.

    77. At 11:43am on 30 Apr 2009, yajusdonsavethose wrote:

    read- my post. i said i was not a spurs fan. I support the glory hornets (watford) so trust me mate, I don?t care either way about spurs or arsenal. I just think walcott is avergae. and my gooner mates who hold season tickets tend to agree. as for you telling me he gets his head up, that is a very funny joke. don't particularly rate lennon either just can tbeleive people saying how good walcott is when he never influences a game.

    ------------------------------------------

    Erm well looking at your posting history you start a lot of posts with "Spurs fan here in peace...." and refer to Spurs as "we". Not sure what is worse, the fact you just got busted or the fact that you're ashamed to admit to supporting your team :)

  • Comment number 79.

    Man Utd should be out of sight by now as they were clearly the better team. If that is Arsenal's technically perfect football they can keep it, I would prefer to 'hoof' the ball to the wings or forwards and see some shots on goal, rather than piddly 10ft passes anywhere than forward. It reminds me of 'houllier' football.
    For months it has been apparent that in order to beat united you have get in around the back, I thought that the technically astute wenger would have worked this out, instead of the very narrow formation last night. I just wish that that Arsenal had shown up at Anfield last week.

  • Comment number 80.

    NiksBg

    I am going to ask you the same question that I asked you yesterday, but you never replied to:-


    'Ignoring what may or may not have happened last night, I would agree that some of the media do overdo things a little and aren't always completely fair. But, if we accept that we know that, then you must bear that in mind when using that media.

    However, what I really wanted to say to you is if you think so little of English football, why do you spend so much time watching it and commenting on it? If I am right that you are not English and are not in England (assumptions based on comments I have read, which may be wrong) then why don't you post of forum's that are more in tune to your thinking and don't spend so much time on the English centric BBC.

    Fair comment?'

  • Comment number 81.

    Re 9. mightysoprano

    Your previous comments show that you're very bitter towards Manchester United, lazily claiming that all of their success is purely down to poor refereeing decisions, conveniently choosing to ignore ones that go against them.

    So it's no surprise that you should choose to applaud the officials last night, when United had a perfectly good Giggs goal ruled out for off-side.

    ps - I love it how you added a token comment about the match and then, almost like an after-thought, added the real reason you decided to comment, another dig about refereeing decisions. 'Constant diving and histrionics of Ronaldo'? Get that chip off your shoulder.

  • Comment number 82.

    Chelsea were played off the park by Barcelona who in truth should have scored even though they were being careful not to concede a goal. Chelsea can only pray for a miracle.
    Also as a true Brit I wince at the thought of a battle between Arsenal's young gunners and Barcelona.
    Judging by last night I have no need to worry. If they were trying to get an away goal I couldn't tell. It was as if Utd had drugged them so placid were they.
    As good as Utd were, I think they need to be even better to beat Barcelona. The sensible money is on Barca. Gamblers may still punt on Arsenal for a laugh.

  • Comment number 83.

    Finally a decent performance, just a shame only the 1 goal to show for it. leaves me very nervous going in to the 2nd leg. would have also been nice to get a few more goals so we could have put out a 1st team against boro, but now I can see us playing reserves and not getting the 3 points.

  • Comment number 84.

    Normally when United play Arsenal regardless of the final result Wenger's men dominate the middle third of the pitch but last night it didn't happen, Sir Alex flooded that area with energetic players and on the night they were excellent, even with their passing and movement.

    Between Anderson, Fletcher and Carrick they outmanouvered Arsenal in that area which was the real basis of the teams performance, Arsenal struggled to get free of the United pressure and therefore lacked their usual slickness in the middle of the park.

    Arsenal struggled to live with United's speed and accuracy of play for long spells as the home team produced probably their best footballing display of the season and will be only left to rue further missed opportunities.

    Once again i question the idea of playing one of the world's finest central midfielders in a position where he can't dictate the play and hit his precise long passes which might have given Arsenal a chance to catch out a brilliantly organised United.

    Defensively Arsenal did well after the first half and hour, and as i predicted Gibbs did well, he's quick and a decent tackler which is all you need to deal with Ronaldo one-on-one, it's his movement off the ball which is his weapon and he did smack the crossbar and have a header well saved from the opposite flank.

    Adebayor for once was dealt with by the United central defence and i have to say looked utterly useless on the night.

    Arsenal got better as the game progressed but the work-rate and determination not to concede from the home side saw Arsenal produce nothing in a night they'd prefer to forget going forward.

    Almunia will go down as man of the match for keeping his side in he tie but was he only delaying the inevitable?

    Arsenal fans should hope that Ferdinand doesn't return as he's proved time and time again on the european stage that when you need a performance at the back their's no better defender.

    This tie is by no means over but United have never failed to score at the Emirates which is surely all they have to do to reach a second consecutive final.

  • Comment number 85.

    To be fair Arsene did get it wrong this time, he should have played cesc in the middle, nasri on the left and eduardo with adebayor. Diaby is just becoming another eboue

  • Comment number 86.

    haveyoursay2007 wrote:
    I really miss the days of intense rivalry between Man Utd and Arsenal. Both teams play some stunning football and Ferguson and Wenger are great entertainment. It's just not the same between Utd and Liverpool mainly because Benitez talks a load of rubbish week in week out and makes himself look stupid.
    ---------------------------------------

    Oh and Ferguson never makes stupid comments or plays mind games...get a grip!

    Liverpool v Arsenal was a hundred times more entertaining than last nights match, add to that Arsenal didnt have van persie or Arshavin and still you only manage to get 1 goal!
    ---------------------------------------

    Yeah but you leaked four and us none. Eight goals in one match doesnt mean it was a great game because it wasnt. A goals a goal at the end of the day doesnt matter how many you score to win a game!!!

  • Comment number 87.

    #76

    Are you sure you had Sky Sports2 on the telly box last night or were you getting confused with Curling again?

    Manchester United spanked Arsenal last night. Plain and simple.

    You mention the second half well Giggs wasn't offside, Ronaldo hit the bar and when he and Rooney swapped positions they made poor old Gibbs and Sagna wish they had spent the night at a Spa in York.

    United to win 2-1 at the Emirates and put this jibba jabba to bed about Arsenal still being in the tie. Your defence was shoking and Cesc was no where, in fact none of your attacking threat came to play football last night.

    It was billed as a meeting of the free flowing football... well one team took up the challenge last night.

    Aaaaaaaaaand errrrrrrr son, son, son...

  • Comment number 88.

    "The recent heavy-legged look had gone from United..."

    :-}

    yeah phil, if you say so

    this'll be the same look the BBC were banging on about the night we dismantled Portsmouth I take it? You know, the night we were still chasing around in 2nd half stoppage time and where 6-0 would hardly have flattered us

  • Comment number 89.

    Wenger's optimism partly comes from his experience at Villa Park on boxing day.

    That day, Arsenal could and should have been four nil down inside half an hour. They weren't and somehow went into the break 1-0 up. I still don't know how to this day......

    In the second half Arsenal should have closed the game out in the first twenty minutes, scoring again and hitting the post. But they didn't.

    And Villa came roaring back to equalise at 2-2 in the last minute.

    That game was a game of three chunks. Each totally different to the other.

    That's what Wenger's on about. I think........

  • Comment number 90.

    #87

    Yeh, why is more not being made of the disallowed Giggsy goal? It's not mentioned in the match report, or by Phil. Replays showed he was level with the defenders.

    Great finish, too. Deserved that goal on his 800th appearance.

  • Comment number 91.

    72. At 11:35am on 30 Apr 2009, JAGOMUFC wrote:
    61. At 11:12am on 30 Apr 2009, Stuart_MCFC wrote:
    Ferguson's scared, that's why he's playing mind games. Arsenal were mediocre and are still very much in the tie.
    --------------------------------------------------
    what are you on, Fergie is scared?? go an sit in your council house.

    --------------------------------------------------

    In Manchester.

  • Comment number 92.

    9. At 09:40am on 30 Apr 2009, mightysoprano wrote:

    On a different note, it was nice to see a referee who was not star-struck and initimidated by Fergie, his players and Old Trafford. The referee - unlike his weak Premiership counterparts - was strong in the face of constant diving and histrionics by Ronaldo.

    -----------------------------------

    The ref was excellent not for this negative reason but for allowing the game to keep going as often as possible, for both teams. I was impressed with him overall, it's a shame we don't have more refs like this in the Premier League and in Europe.

    But any chance to have a pop at SAF and Ronaldo, hey?

  • Comment number 93.

    • PulpGrape wrote:
    I really miss the days of intense rivalry between Man Utd and Arsenal. Both teams play some stunning football and Ferguson and Wenger are great entertainment. It's just not the same between Utd and Liverpool mainly because Benitez talks a load of rubbish week in week out and makes himself look stupid.

    Anyway as far as the game goes, Utd will be looking to score first at the Emirates obviously and if they go in at half time 1-0 you would have to say its game over.
    Benitez reads from a list of facts that the majority of non-ManU fans agree with (Howard Webb come on down) and he is accused of talking rubbish.

    Sir Albert Steptoe spouts a deliberate mis-interpretation of some gestures by Benitez which was invented in collusion with a deluded egotist and he is the oracle because the kow-towing media are in thrall to him and fail to ridicule it as they should have done.

    I think there must have been a dodgy prawn in your sandwich.

    Old Boozenose dislikes Benitez and Wenger ( don’t worry the old crude Wenger baiting will return should Arsenal manage to eliminate ManU) because unlike him they are cultured and well educated something he would like to be.
    So instead he teams up with a similarly challenged individual to connive like a couple of bullies in the playground trying to intimidate the new kids because they seem cleverer.
    Drinking expensive wine does not make you cultured and neither does acting like a boorish oik.

  • Comment number 94.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 95.

    #90 kanchelskis_legend

    #87

    Yeh, why is more not being made of the disallowed Giggsy goal? It's not mentioned in the match report, or by Phil. Replays showed he was level with the defenders.

    Great finish, too. Deserved that goal on his 800th appearance.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The whistle went way before the ball hit the back of the net. From what I saw, as the camera was not level with the line, the replays were inconclusive but bordering on the linesman being right.

    Let's not call it a goal and onside when it isn't clear.

  • Comment number 96.

    "Sir Alex Ferguson has warned Arsenal they will struggle to stop Manchester United scoring in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final on Tuesday."

    ------------------------

    Bravo Fergie. Once again you have shown your true wisdom.

    Considering the numerous attempts United had in the first half hour at OT Arsenal didn't do too bad to concede just one goal.

    Does Fergie honestly believe that the can again apply that much pressure before finally scoring a goal at the Emirates considering United's dodgy away form in Europe.

    I think Fergie regrets his team not scoring more goals last night and this comment is a reflection that he knows that although United have the advantage at the minute that Arsenal could easily turn the tie around at home.

  • Comment number 97.

    93. At 12:21pm on 30 Apr 2009, iknowwhatilike wrote:

    ? PulpGrape wrote:
    I really miss the days of intense rivalry between Man Utd and Arsenal. Both teams play some stunning football and Ferguson and Wenger are great entertainment. It's just not the same between Utd and Liverpool mainly because Benitez talks a load of rubbish week in week out and makes himself look stupid.

    Anyway as far as the game goes, Utd will be looking to score first at the Emirates obviously and if they go in at half time 1-0 you would have to say its game over.
    Benitez reads from a list of facts that the majority of non-ManU fans agree with (Howard Webb come on down) and he is accused of talking rubbish.

    Sir Albert Steptoe spouts a deliberate mis-interpretation of some gestures by Benitez which was invented in collusion with a deluded egotist and he is the oracle because the kow-towing media are in thrall to him and fail to ridicule it as they should have done.

    I think there must have been a dodgy prawn in your sandwich.

    Old Boozenose dislikes Benitez and Wenger ( don?t worry the old crude Wenger baiting will return should Arsenal manage to eliminate ManU) because unlike him they are cultured and well educated something he would like to be.
    So instead he teams up with a similarly challenged individual to connive like a couple of bullies in the playground trying to intimidate the new kids because they seem cleverer.
    Drinking expensive wine does not make you cultured and neither does acting like a boorish oik.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Neither does an attempt at showing off linguistic talent on a football discussion forum make you cultured either. Fail.

  • Comment number 98.

    55. At 11:01am on 30 Apr 2009, PragueImp wrote:
    re: 26. At 10:14am on 30 Apr 2009, rchrdav wrote:

    Pragueimp
    The question is what game were you watching in the second half becuase Arsenal created nothing and got nothing

    You mean the second half where Arsenal were dominating possession and United couldn't get the ball back?!

    ----------------------------

    You mean the team that managed only a single shot on target all game? Possession was in United's favour across the whole game too (although only by 1-2%). Arsenal had more possession second half, United had more in the first - Overall, United had more.

    How is that domination from Arsenal?

    3 attemps all game, 1 on target. Keeper never tested once.

    We know you don't like United. But try to keep at least a little measurement of non-bias when trying to claim things like this.

  • Comment number 99.

    Phil, you can be a brilliant blogger when you want to be. This is great stuff. However, I expected you to have written this blog yesterday, with the names 'Chelsea' in place of 'Arsenal' and 'Barcelona' in place of 'Man United'.. A little consistency helps.

  • Comment number 100.

    62. At 11:13am on 30 Apr 2009, NikosBg wrote:

    Now have a look at that. BBC's 'Chief football writer' claims "no-one could dispute United deserve the victory". There are even suggestions they deserved a bigger lead.

    Last night Barcelona had more control and dominance of the game, at least the same quantity and quality of clear-cut chances despite facing 11 behind the ball, lots more shots on and off target, a pen denied, and were more comfortable in defence.

    Yet according to the same people Chelsea deserved the draw last night, because of their 'bravery'.

    The British press are such a disgrace. You're not earning your money for your (lack of) sporting knowledge, but for stroking people's ears and backsides. Bunch of pussycats.

    -----------------------------

    I normally ignore your nonsense. I'll bite this one.

    Barcelona didn't deserve to score because they didn't score. Chelsea deserved their draw because Barcelona didn't score. United deserved to win because they scored 1 more than Arsenal. United SHOULD have scored more. But didn't deserve it because they didn't manage it.

    Now, I'm not going to deny a British site will be more inclined to report from a British perspective - if you dislike it, why spend so much time reading here?

    You are you're own worst enemy. You HATE the British press, you HATE British football yet... here you are, spending every single day of your life witnessing it, commenting upon it and... no doubt, loving every single minute of it.

    You're a piece of work. If I hold contempt for something, I leave it alone and ignore it. Speaking of which, time to going back to ignoring you.

 

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