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Lame Arsenal a shadow of Man Utd's former foes

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Phil McNulty | 21:32 UK time, Saturday, 3 November 2012

At Old Trafford

Sir Alex Ferguson was almost wistful as he sounded like a man pining for the dangerous days of flying pizzas in the Old Trafford tunnel.

The meeting between Manchester United and Arsenal was once a fixture to count on if you wanted pure theatre on and off the pitch.

It was a match that decided titles and provoked behaviour, good and downright awful, reflecting those pressures.

"Pizzagate" - when Ferguson was struck by flying foodstuffs hurled from Arsenal's dressing room in 2004 - was merely one of many manifestations of a rivalry that was ferocious in its intensity.

Downcast Ferguson was not even cheered by United's 2-1 win over Arsenal that took them back to the top of the Premier League as he declared: "The whole day was disappointing."

And this was because the serious element of competition was removed by Arsenal's lame performance.

Van Persie's celebration was muted after scoring against his old club Arsenal. Photo: Getty

Arsene Wenger's team were so polite and accommodating, apart from the combative Jack Wilshere as he received a red card, that the only threat to Ferguson was being killed by their kindness.

There was animosity off the pitch as Arsenal's supporters ignored Wenger's plea to respect former idol Robin van Persie. They abused him loudly with lurid chanting but once he responded by scoring with his first kick of the game it was effectively over.

United could afford the luxury of Wayne Rooney's missed penalty before Patrice Evra's second goal after 67 minutes rewarded their vast supremacy.

It would insult the intelligence of Arsenal's fans to describe Santi Cazorla's goal with the last kick of the game as any measure of consolation.

It was not a defeat on the humiliating scale of last season's 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford but it is hard to imagine Wenger, in his quieter moments, gaining any more satisfaction from this. The scoreline was close - the contest was not.

Ferguson's disappointment was probably buried deep in the knowledge that United should have beaten Arsenal more convincingly. He still carries the scars of a title lost on goal difference to Manchester City last season.

For Arsenal and Wenger the concerns run deeper. They did not show Van Persie what he was missing, indeed Arsenal demonstrated much about why he left. This was not the stuff to force him into a single backward glance towards The Emirates.

The atmosphere was as flat as a pancake. Fans of both sides left long before the end and this was an Arsenal team that looked like it never believed for one second it could beat Manchester United.

Once Arsenal's travelling support had tired of vilifying Van Persie, they turned on their own. From chants of "Wenger, Wenger Sort It Out" to "Ivan Gazidis What Do You Do?" (expletive deleted) to the now traditional cry of "We Want Our Arsenal Back", there was an air of genuine discontent about the club's direction.

Wenger, rightly given his achievements, still generates much goodwill and support but Arsenal - despite shafts of early season optimism - are nowhere near title contenders.

And while Wenger regards Champions League qualification as a "third trophy" after winning the title and the Champions League itself, no-one would say with absolute certainty they will claim that prize this season.

The key question is how much longer Wenger will tolerate living life on the margins of what he regards as real successes after the glories of his past - but the immediate frustration is directed towards Arsenal's boardroom.

At the recent Annual General Meeting, chief executive Gazidis insisted that in the next two years Arsenal will have the financial resources to sit alongside and compete with the world's leading clubs. Fine words, but the worries are where Arsenal the football team will be in two years.

It is a message greeted with scepticism by many Arsenal fans as a sort of footballing version of Del Boy Trotter's hopelessly optimistic mantra to brother Rodney in "Only Fools And Horses" when he said: "This time next year we'll be millionaires".

The suggestion at the same meeting that Van Persie was sold for football reasons also fails to hold a drop of water. It made perfectly sound financial sense to rake in £24m for a player refusing to commit in the final year of his contract but there was never a football reason to sell.

Arsenal may yet end in the top four and claim silverware that has eluded them and Wenger since 2005 but in amid the mess and timidity of this display it was clear they will not register in any serious discussion about the destination of the title.

The Gunners were impressive in victory at Liverpool to hint at good things ahead. Wenger's track record also deserves, at the very least, the respect deserving of a manager who knows how to finish in the top four.

It is the easiest line in the world to write that Arsenal's manager is stale and should be changed. Rather more difficult is suggesting a realistic contender to succeed him.

But he was nowhere near blameless here. Wenger's team selection contained obvious flaws and United, even in low-key mood, were still aware enough to exploit them.

A recent viewing of hapless left-back Andre Santos against Schalke 04 in the Champions League suggested his confrontation with the speed and direct approach of Antonio Valencia was best viewed from behind the sofa with the lights off. It was worse than that - for a time in the first half Santos was trending on Twitter and not in a good way.

Santos looked and played like a liability. There seemed no sound logic for his inclusion and there was a case within minutes of removing him and introducing Laurent Koscielny, shifting Thomas Vermaelen to left-back. Wenger also had the option of playing Bacary Sagna at left-back and selecting Carl Jenkinson. It would have at least spared the Brazilian's embarrassment.

Just as mystifying was Wenger's decision to leave Theo Walcott on the bench. He may have played 120 minutes in the 7-5 win at Reading in midweek but he is 23 and at his peak of fitness with a hat-trick to feel good about.

Walcott is already surrounded by speculation about his future with Liverpool loitering with intent, and he may wonder what he needs to do to get a run up front, especially with Olivier Giroud's radar once again wayward and Lukas Podolski anonymous.

The naysayers may suggest it is too early in the season to express these concerns but a listen to the anguished voices of Arsenal fans inside Old Trafford told the story.

And when even an old foe like Ferguson fails to gain any obvious pleasure from beating Arsenal then all those questions about their current status carry even greater validity and weight.

Comments

Page 1 of 9

  • Comment number 1.

    Have you forgotten that, eventually, Del Boy Trotter was proven right?

  • Comment number 2.

    Has Wenger capitulated to Fergie's charm or offensive.?
    What a pathetic midtable display by Gunners.

    Another day another red card and penalty given @ Old T.
    Is MU that lucky?

  • Comment number 3.

    I know this was a poor Arsenal today but lets not forget that Arsenal under Wenger have never finished outside the top 4.

  • Comment number 4.

    Unbelievable stats since the trashing and humiliating 6-1 loss @ Old T with Jonny Evans rightfully sent off

    Fergie's team has 0 players sent off while opposition has 10 (ten, dix, diez, dieci ) players sent off.

    In contrast Chelsea has 5 players sent off with 3 from the opposition.
    City has 7 players sent off with 2 from the opposition.

    When you considered that Chelsea & City had more (% of) possession football and goal opportunities than MU.

    Go figure.

  • Comment number 5.

    When it comes to mano a mano MU obviously does not have it to wit Chelsea defeating MU recently on a level playing field.

    i.e. MU won by dubious sent off of Torres (even Clattenburg has been allegedly quoted to rue it) and an offside goal to beat Chelsea the previous match.

  • Comment number 6.

    how did i know golubaby would comment?

  • Comment number 7.

    It's time for change at Arsenal. You can't do the same thing year in year out and expect a different result. As much as I think Wenger has been fantastic for Arsenal, I think he's taken the club as far as he can take it. Too many lame performances, too lazy when not in possession and this has been for a few years now. Ideal scenario is someone like Pep with Wenger moving upstairs.

  • Comment number 8.

    My lucky day today, I had a choice of a cup tie or OT for the Utd/Arsenal game.

    The cup tie won the day and it was a decent game but I did catch the first half of the Utd game on the box.

    Manure is the only word to describe the game. Both Utd and Arsenal were rubbish. More passes went astray than were successful in that first half. Do any of them realise, when making a pass it is supposed to reach a teammate and not the opposition.

    It was a very, very poor advert for premiership football.

  • Comment number 9.

    Arsenal are clearly missing Van Persie. Perhaps Walcott should be starting matches in the centre forward role?

    They have come 3rd or 4th for many seasons now. They will struggle to finish as high this year.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'd like to optimistically think that a full strength and fully match-fit Arsenal defence would have fared better. It is however our attack that is much more worrying. If our forwards don't improve by January we will need to bring someone in in order to remain in contention for the top four. I've recently written a blog along this theme, analysing Arsenal's strengths and weaknesses so far this season at http://shootsyscores.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/half-of-half-season-in-life-without-rvp.html Any feedback/comments much appreciated.

  • Comment number 11.

    @0 phil wrote
    Ferguson's disappointment was probably buried deep in the knowledge that United should have beaten Arsenal more convincingly. He still carries the scars of a title lost on goal difference to Manchester City last season.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Goal Difference was make up of the convincingly and humiliating Derby Losses.
    City totally outplayed MU 'out of the park' especially on the return leg @ Etihad.

    That should be the honourable yardstick. City a convincing and worthy champion.
    City & Chelsea does not need LUCK in the form of dubious penalties, offside goals and opposition players sent off to win with credibility.

  • Comment number 12.

    Top of the league and United haven't even got out of second gear this season, ominous.

  • Comment number 13.

    6. At 23:22 3rd Nov 2012, zboy1989 wrote:
    ---------------------------------------

    I don't Hate.
    I love to Torment Bullies ;)

  • Comment number 14.

    2. At 23:01 3rd Nov 2012, Goluboy wrote:
    Has Wenger capitulated to Fergie's charm or offensive.?
    What a pathetic midtable display by Gunners.

    Another day another red card and penalty given @ Old T.
    Is MU that lucky?
    4. At 23:14 3rd Nov 2012, Goluboy wrote:
    Unbelievable stats since the trashing and humiliating 6-1 loss @ Old T with Jonny Evans rightfully sent off

    Fergie's team has 0 players sent off while opposition has 10 (ten, dix, diez, dieci ) players sent off.

    In contrast Chelsea has 5 players sent off with 3 from the opposition.
    City has 7 players sent off with 2 from the opposition.

    When you considered that Chelsea & City had more (% of) possession football and goal opportunities than MU.

    Go figure.
    When it comes to mano a mano MU obviously does not have it to wit Chelsea defeating MU recently on a level playing field.

    i.e. MU won by dubious sent off of Torres (even Clattenburg has been allegedly quoted to rue it) and an offside goal to beat Chelsea the previous match.

    __________________________________
    three ridiculous comments there...

  • Comment number 15.

    Before we all hop on the 'United win 500 unjust penalties per game' bus, please consider the fact that the Telegraph last year published an 'ammended' Premier League table, where unjust match-changing decisions were changed and the table calculated accordingly.

    Manchester United finished something like 4 points clear at the top of the table.

  • Comment number 16.

    13. At 23:31 3rd Nov 2012, Goluboy wrote:
    6. At 23:22 3rd Nov 2012, zboy1989 wrote:
    ---------------------------------------

    I don't Hate.
    I love to Torment Bullies ;)
    _________________________
    no bullying here i just hate your obvious lack of knowledge...


    all my predictions so far were wrong, lucky i didnt put them up for drastic....

  • Comment number 17.

    does anybody else think rooney misses being a striker, hes being groomed in the scholes role atm im sure... his passing was sloppy, at best...

  • Comment number 18.

    Sir Alex Ferguson was almost wistful as he sounded like a man pining for the dangerous days of flying pizzas in the Old Trafford tunnel.
    _______________
    phil, i have to say the win today gave me no satisfaction whatsoever, seemed to give me the feeling i had shot a wounded pheasant, kinda the sick feeling you get when you see an old hero in dissaray...

  • Comment number 19.

    16. At 23:37 3rd Nov 2012, zboy1989 wrote:
    --------------------------------------------
    Care to refute my stats or facts instead of attempting to ridicule me?
    Don't you think its incredibly lucky of you red devils to have a streak of 0 players sent off while having 10 of your opposition players sent off, in contrast to your rivals Chelsea and City?

    When MU players dive and Opposition players dive, to wit positive outtcomes for MU why is there a big disconnect?

    No wonder MU gets mocked & ridiculed for being Bullies.

  • Comment number 20.

    What is happening to City at the moment? They seem devoid of ideas, especially in midfield. Are they simply missing the influence of Silva or does the problem go deeper than that?

    One thing is clear, playing 3 strikers from the outset is not a good idea.

  • Comment number 21.

    MartinLip @12

    Top of the league and United haven't even got out of second gear this season, ominous.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I know what you mean but i am struggling to think of the last time Utd did hit form consistently.

    Also when was the last time they put on a show against quality opposition.

    They will of course be able to bludgeon inferior teams, purely because of their options up front, which is very powerful.

  • Comment number 22.

    20. At 23:44 3rd Nov 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:

    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    seems that mancini's lack of tactical awareness is just seeping through to the pl, i believe also a few 'key' players are questioning his choices behind the scenes, he has lost his squads respect, youd never catch two MUFC players critisisng the managers tactics within a few weeks...
    there is also a very obvious lack of respect between mancini and the board, the fact that he has come out and said last year he was close to leaving for as many as 7 clubs, this suggests a manager with only dollar signs for pupils...

  • Comment number 23.

    baggiosponytail @20

    I just watched a recording of the City game, I am at a loss to understand just what his formation is, they are allover the place at the moment. They certainly lack width and creativity in the areas, where it really matters. Silva would be a miss for almost any team but City should not be a one man team.

  • Comment number 24.

    21. At 23:45 3rd Nov 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:
    MartinLip @12

    Top of the league and United haven't even got out of second gear this season, ominous.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I know what you mean but i am struggling to think of the last time Utd did hit form consistently.

    Also when was the last time they put on a show against quality opposition.

    They will of course be able to bludgeon inferior teams, purely because of their options up front, which is very powerful.
    ___________________________________________________
    i made a point to my friends this week that their beloved afc have a better defence when in sync than ours at the moment but with our armada very few teams will be able to outscore us.... especially with arsenals very obvious lack of strike power...

  • Comment number 25.

    Phil, you summed it up perfectly with your analogy about Fergie not enjoying victory over one of his (supposed) rivals. That really does tell the whole story.

    After such a promising start, Arsenal have been exposed mercilessly today. The scoreline might seem a far cry from the same fixture last year, but the chasm between the sides' performances today was just as significant as that 8-2 mauling.

    The fact a misfiring United side can beat Arsenal - and still kick themselves afterwards about it even though the 3 points were sealed - should make Arsenal fans very worried indeed. I do wonder if the rumours really are true that Arsene Wenger has fallen out with one of his new coaches.

  • Comment number 26.

    Why is Wenger persisting with Santos? He is by far the weakest player in the team yet he's been first choice left back since Gibbs was injured. Every game he plays us punctuated by the commentators saying "awful ball" or "messed that one up" and as we saw on MOTD, he is constantly out of position and easily avoided. Just pitiful to watch.

  • Comment number 27.

    i see potential in santos.... as a doorman.

  • Comment number 28.

    @22 zboy1989

    Yeah Mancini has come out with some odd comments recently.

    He doesn't seem to know what his best team or formation is and constant changes are not good for any team.

    Balotelli looks like he couldn't care less. He had flashes of brilliance and also moments of stupidity last season, now he seems to be in a permanent sulk.

  • Comment number 29.

    That is Utd in top gear, they haven't been exciting or fluent since Ronaldo left. Anyone thinking they can flick a switch and play entertaining football hasnt been watching them for the last few seasons. They are effective and have good attacking options and will be in the top 2 come May, whether that will be enough to win them the league we shall see.

    With regards to Arsenal it just hasn't worked out for Wenger in the transfer market. Santi is obviously a top class footballer but Podolski has always flattered to deceive at club level and Giroud looks like another Gervinho. I am surprised Arsene hasn't looked at a player like Ba, great record in this league and would cost him less than those 3 did.

    Tactically against the better sides he doesn't seem to adjust, you would think 5 men in midfield and taking a draw would be good but there isn't a single player in the side who can tackle in the middle of the pitch, Wilshire may add a bit but he is coming off 17 months out. 4th place has been the least you get from Wenger but they just don't look like being capable this time. Chelsea, Utd & City are pretty much guaranteed to finish above them and I would put them on a par with Everton and Spurs at present, so a bad run could be costly.

  • Comment number 30.

    This is a bizarrely vitriolic article. Some obvious things need to be stated before I start my rant. Arsenal were obviously dire today. It was a terrible performance with nothing positive to say about it at all. Man Utd were also terrible which makes the defeat even worse. Arsena, as everyone knows, haven't win a trophy in donkey's years and don't have a divine right to finish in the top four. This is clearly understood by every Arsenal fan, yet fortunately we continue to finish there. I'm just confused why after 7 trophyless years you decide it's time to have a pop? Plenty of teams play terribly every week, yet you never deem it necessary to single one out for an easy article. Chelsea lost at home last week (to their biggest rival) then drew with Swansea. Man City drew with West Ham. Tottenham lost at home to Wigan. I don't think any sensible Arsenal fan really believes we're still in the same "league" as Chelsea, Man Utd or Man City, so why should the result today pain you so much? I hate to play the money card but if they can afford to pay £25m for a player (and financially justify it) then good for them. It's common knowledge that Wenger has money to spend and chooses not to, and while that pains me no end it doesn't mean that what the other clubs are doing is the sensible option. Clearly if you can justify burdening your club with more debt to get a good player then by all means do it, but not all clubs can do that. Do I believe that with our best 11 on the pitch we can compete with the best teams in the league? Yes. Do I believe that any Arsenal fan thought we could win the league this year? No. It just makes this outburst of yours all the more peculiar. Considering over the last 10 years we've come out with the best net spend in the league and only lost by a single goal away to Man Utd while playing our worst football for a long time is hardly a reason to be launching an attack on the club. Arsenal fans are well aware of the status of the club, but you seem to have completely different expectations for how we should be doing. I would say our current league position is about right, and that we will probably pip Spurs to 4th. So nothing's changed. Also your two line "summing up" lines on BBC Sport live feed are churlish and smack of cheap point-scoring. Good article though.

  • Comment number 31.

    @28 baggiosPonytail
    _____________________
    you would think with the 'quality' citeh have that they would be able to put anyone out and say have fun...
    problem is teams like west ham are making them look pedestrian, and teams like ajax are giving them a hiding, the whole ballotelli debacle is getting awful... how that lad is still selected to start is beyond me.

  • Comment number 32.

    Exactly what I said at half time, bring Koscielny in move Vermaelen to left back or bring Jenkinson in move Sagna to left back. We may have prevented the second goal, hang on and may be get the equalizer later because United can't keep clean sheet at Old Trafford. Wenger's decisions on team selection is not the best recently and especially against United. Last year against United at the Emerites he took off Ox when he was our brightest spot at the wing and brought on Arshavin who had lost form and confidence to the displeasure of fans and players. During off season he had many phone calls from Fergie regarding RVP's transfer, who knows what else was put on the table for 24m. Today he refused to take off Santos allowing United to use the left back position to attack on countless times and what a shame to see him beg for RVP's shirt at half time. And how long will Wenger keep starting Ramsey, it doesn't take one brain cell for one to know how ineffective he is in the Arsenal team.

  • Comment number 33.

    That was an utterly awful performance from my beloved Gunners today. The score line was so flattering for us, as it should have been at least 4/5 goals for Man Utd. Its actually hard to see where we are not struggling at the moment. Our defense looks so vulnerable, Vermaelen has been very poor this season, and the less I speak about Santos the better. In midfield, teams have figured out that if you can stifle Cazorla, then there is no real penetration in the final third, and upfront we just plain and simply are missing someone like Van Persie. I have said it all along, RVP is CLASS, simply awesome and was THE reason for us to finish third last season. He seems to be continuing from where he left off for us last season. I thought last year was our worst team during Wenger's time, but this team clearly takes that award. We just don't play like we used to, what has happened to the pretty football, which we were so renowned of playing? What about our philosophy? We just don't have the players to do what we are known for. This is what happens when you regularly sell your best players, and don't replace them like for like, very similar to what Valencia have had to go through. Undoubtedly its Wenger's genius, that we somehow manage to qualify for CL every year. I still believe Giroud can be a good signing, he worked really hard today, and his movement in and around the box is good, but we need another world class striker. We could see Walcott up as CF, but we need another, just look at Man City, and Man Utd, they have four established strikers, we might have two, and I'm sorry but Gervinho has no technique, and is a headless chicken. He just doesn't have the ball control. Even more worrying is Podolski. He has been strictly average since we bought him and was anonymous and ineffective today. No bursting runs of any sort and sloppy in possession too. So basically in January, we need a host of signings: a striker, a LB, CB, DM, even an AM as well, and even then I'm still not sure whether we can compete for CL spot. I'm just worried that Wenger is refusing to see how terribly we have been playing. Surely he needs to understand that we are struggling to create good chances, so definitely there needs to be some concrete action to be taken. I fear that this might just be the season where Wenger's magic runs out, and we finish outside the top 4. Maybe it could be the signal for there to be a change, and if Wenger does decide to step down, I would love to see someone like Klopp, or of course Guardiola to take over, but still I trust in Wenger, and hope we can turn this around, but that will depend a lot on what we decide to do (or not to do) in January.

  • Comment number 34.

    Its a shame le Professeur has been seen to have capitulated for whatever pragmatic reasons. c'est la vie.

    OTOH kudos to Chelsea & City for putting our a Fighting product.
    Give Them credits for not depending on LUCK. No controversial wins. City is Undefeated & Chelsea is the rightful leader.
    Not MU with the old chestnut excuse that 'FA Officials didn't see it to call it'.

  • Comment number 35.

    30. At 00:04 4th Nov 2012, timgooner25 wrote:
    _______________________________________________-
    if you covet having a good net spend over silverware then i suggest that you have already accepted that arsenal are nowhere near a trophy not even a hope within the next ten years... so you must also accept that after seven years without a sniff this article is well overdue...

  • Comment number 36.

    This seems to happen every season, like a cycle.

    People like Phil McNulty laugh and ridicule Arsene Wenger sides every season but in the end it's always Wenger who has the last laugh when his side finishes top 4. You're setting yourself up to be laughed at again. This loss means absolutely nothing to Arsenal, even if it were a poor performance. They lost at Norwich and they lost at Old Trafford.
    BUT, they will still finish in the top 4. It was clear before this fixture that it's all they care about. They don't have the financial muscle to match the likes of Utd, City and Chelsea to challenge for the premier league. But in all truth Wenger is right. Top 4 holds much more value than the league or FA Cups.

  • Comment number 37.

    34. At 00:17 4th Nov 2012, Goluboy wrote:
    _____________________________________________________
    vendetta much?

  • Comment number 38.

    again Utd win with 12 against 10 (or 9). This is becoming embarassing.

    Does the EPL have any credibility left?


    And note to some posters above - use paragraphs, people might bother reading what you say then.

  • Comment number 39.

    The person that Arsenal need back more then anyone is David Dein the club has never been the same since he was forced out, they have at time become completely lost. .I guess the only thing that will make the "out of touch"board react is a couple of seasons out of the "Cash Cow" of the Champion League and if that's the price so be..Something has to be done, they are to concerned with UEFA fair play rules then with the improvement of the club.

  • Comment number 40.

    35:

    Don't recall saying I covet net spend over trophies. I was merely using that to put today's match in context. We're not the team Phil thinks we should be. We're always going to have a hope of a trophy though, any team does (Liverpool even won a trophy last year), so I don't really understand any of your interpretations of my post.

  • Comment number 41.

    maybe i interpreted it the way it was written, silly me...

  • Comment number 42.

    @30 good comments which I generally agree with. The press love to hate the gunners - e.g. if we play badly and win we are lucky, the others do it and the sign of champions! That is what we have to contend with all the time - fair balanced reporting has all but disappeared.

    As for the game well used to it. Underperformance. The players are all internationals so why do we always start a goal down?? Too often it seems as though when the game starts we start 10 minutes later - there is a lack of urgency. I don't understand this - all managers say the premier league is more competitive and the so called weaker teams are stronger - you don't get luxuries any more. When we play well we can still beat anybody but until we drill in consistency then winning the premier league over 38 games and 9 months is too much to expect. We can and should be doing better than this.

  • Comment number 43.

    38:

    Not everyone requires paragraphs to convince them to read an article. Will try add some pictures next time as well.

  • Comment number 44.

    41:

    You are silly. I will interpret that as an apology.

  • Comment number 45.

    15. At 23:36 3rd Nov 2012, tappy wrote:
    Before we all hop on the 'United win 500 unjust penalties per game' bus, please consider the fact that the Telegraph last year published an 'ammended' Premier League table, where unjust match-changing decisions were changed and the table calculated accordingly.

    Manchester United finished something like 4 points clear at the top of the table.


    ________________________________________________________________

    Just to help the sceptics

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9258810/Manchester-United-have-cause-for-complaint-as-unique-survey-highlights-Premier-League-errors.html

  • Comment number 46.

    Arsenal were never expected to win at Old Trafford in the first place. With the way they playing with their starting XI today, they probably had a better chance to win against United if they started with the starting XI they used against Reading. Arsenal are slowing getting out of contention for the premier league title. This is now surprise with the way the club is run at the moment by them selling their best players each season. On the other side, United are slowly getting better at the perfect time while it's main rivals are losing form with both of them dropping points this weekend.

  • Comment number 47.

    haha wow... smug, if i read your post as it was written, ''Considering over the last 10 years we've come out with the best net spend in the league and only lost by a single goal away to Man Utd '' this to me suggests that you believe this is important... joker

  • Comment number 48.

    Disappointed with the match, as a neutral, after the last few games these two have played in. Arsenal were so poor if United were more clinical today they would have won by another embarrassing scoreline. Weird thing was, SAF's interview, he looked like utd had just lost.
    Surprised that United's attack was so wasteful, but then again they didn't need to be cinical, but Arsenal must be gutted that they didn't test the united defence cos there front line is good enough to cause problems for anyone in the league. Saying that i've no idea why ramsey played on the wing he has no place there and podolski was invisible for the entire match.
    Still think arsenal will get top four but title race is well and truly over for them even this early because they dont seem consistent enough. Vermaelen had a shocker which is quite worrying for arsenal

  • Comment number 49.

    Phil is being a Drama queen today:
    'Fine words, but the worries are where Arsenal the football team will be in two years'.

    even if we are to become a mid-table team for the next couple of years, all it takes is one year of massive investment to win stuff.

    As for replacement JOHACIM LOW!

  • Comment number 50.

    47:

    Yes I think it is important, but to put words in my mouth that I covet financial prudence over trophies is a whole different ball game (excuse the pun).

  • Comment number 51.

    @47 thankyou........
    now shut it golubaby and the gonner bandwagon...

  • Comment number 52.

    This torture must stop sooner rather than later, the manager is sytematically destroying Arsenal FC.. it's now entering the very fabric of the clubs reputation. We have some good players but we also have players who have no right to be wearing the Arsenal shirt, they have no pride, no code, no fighting spirit, this seems more down to their lack of quality in not having the skills that were always required first and foremost to becoming an Arsenal player.

    So often i look at Arsene and i fail to understand how a manager can bring a club great success and glory and as the years have progressed slowly regress to the point i feel terribly uncomfortable even watching arsenal play, at times it looks as if these players have never played together before in their lives, i think it's simply other teams have got much better and Arsenal have declined.

    There have been too many average seasons and for a club of Arsenal's stature, this is just not good enough. Maybe it is time to close the curtains on Wengers great management for Arsenal and maybe encourage him to make a lateral move upstairs to the boardroom, he can then count beans with that skilled bean counter Gizzy, A man equally responsible for the predicament of this clubs fall from grace. Things have not been the same since David Dein was told to leave, he was a great link for Wenger between team management and the boardroom, wish he would return. I think we can safely confirm the current way is not working after all these seasons without touching silverware, i don't anticipate this season being much different, the signs are already there.. moment we meet a quality team in champions league we are beaten. I would appoint Guardiola and give him a war chest and maybe this club can get some of hit's pride and respect back once more instead of being ridiculed by teams who not so long ago would not be fit to lace the boots of the arsenal players.

  • Comment number 53.

    Goluboy: read: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/03/27/its-harder-to-win-a-penalty-at-craven-cottage-than-old-trafford/ and: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9258810/Manchester-United-have-cause-for-complaint-as-unique-survey-highlights-Premier-League-errors.html

    I have no idea what you're talking about as to Chelsea 'beating United on a level playing field'. In the League Cup, Chelsea, lacking only Terry, Cole and Torres, beat a Man United team without: De Gea, Evra, Evans, Ferdinand, Vidic, Smalling, Jones, Valencia, Scholes, Cleverley, Carrick, Kagawa, Rooney and Van Persie. Chelsea fans are intelligent enough to know it was not exactly United's strongest team.

    United's league victory against Chelsea last Sunday was their fourth in the sides' last five meetings. The only time that United haven't beaten Chelsea in those five games was when United came from 3-0 down to draw at Stamford Bridge.

    I also note that you omit to mention that West Ham had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside against City today.

  • Comment number 54.

    It seems to me that this MAY just be the year that Arsenal struggle the most. I think they are probably on a level par with teams like Everton, Newcastle and Tottenham so I think the team who recovers the quickest from the inevitable 'bad period' will finish fourth.

    Chelsea, Man Utd and City will all finish above Arsenal this year, of that there is little doubt. It will be the consistency of the next 4 teams that determines who will take the fourth spot. At the moment my money is on Everton (as much as it pains me to say it)

    On a seperate note, I missed the game but saw the highlights on MOTD, can anyone talk me through Cleverly's challenge just prior to Wilshere being sent off as the BBC commentator on the 'saturday football as it happened' claimed it was as bad, if not worse, than the challenge that Wilshere was sent off for but I, for some reason, didn't see it on the highlights.

  • Comment number 55.

    I didn't learn much watching today's snoozefest at Old Trafford: a mediocre Arsenal side that tamely surrendered to a Manchester United team that didn't get out of second gear. This game proved, as if proof were needed, just how uncompetitive the Premier League is on a grand scale, Manchester United cruising to a home victory over title also-rans who inevitably will be in the mix for a top 4 spot at the end of the season, come what may.
    The one outstanding player on the pitch today was the quite magnificent Santi Cazorla. A truly class act, without whom Arsenal could have been embarrassed today.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ goluboy look at 53 thats why i dont answer your rubbish... i know the facts...

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm sorry Phil, but this is yet another example of your lame, "state the bleedin' obvious, but don't actually say anything illuminating" blog pieces. And your pieces continue to lack any form of insight or bravery. Always simply using the result of the match to justify your mainstream opinions. When are you going to stick your neck on the line and say something original? Jumping on the bandwagon about Andre Santos is so lame as well - he was beaten by Valencia probably 2-3 times today only (no different from any other full-back, and Santos' game is about committing forward as a very attacking full-back). Your 'hapless foreign full-back' thesis is embarrassingly akin to the worst in your profession - the likes of Shearer and Hansen. No one ever criticises Leighton Baines for ever being a great attacking full-back, who can't actually defend very well, but he's English and therefore not open to the idle disdain of someone who's knowledge of world football extends to little more than the Premier League.

    Also, I had to laugh at your vitriolic tweet about Wenger commenting on the "illusionary domination" of Arsenal. You completely didn't get it - he was agreeing with you! Wenger wasn't being "delusional", because implicit in the term "illusionary" is Wenger actually agreeing that despite Arsenal having a lot of possession, they actually had little cutting edge, and didn't really dominate the game as the possession stats suggest. Wenger was acknowledging Arsenal's deficiencies - a re-tweet recognising your misinterpretation is due I think.

  • Comment number 58.

    Good job for Arsenal that the best midfielder of his generation wasn't playing, would have been a cricket score.

  • Comment number 59.

    41. At 00:28 4th Nov 2012, zboy1989 wrote:
    maybe i interpreted it the way it was written, silly me...
    ---------------------------------------------------------


    ohyeah ....SILLY ToWIT.........seen thru your red mist fugged lens.. ;)

    You have been wrong before :)

  • Comment number 60.

    Liverpaul85: the sequence was events was roughly as follows.

    -Both Wilshere and Cleverley pick up deserved first yellows;
    -Wilshere commits a foul which would otherwise warrant a second yellow. He gets a final warning;
    -Cleverley commits a foul which would otherwise warrant a second yellow. He gets a final warning;
    -Cleverley is almost immediately replaced by Anderson;
    -Wilshere commits a further tired but not malicious foul on Evra, for which he deservedly receives a second yellow.

    There is really very little for anyone to complain about.

  • Comment number 61.

    Really? What controversial decisions were there today? Cazorla might aswell have caught the ball for the penalty only he knows why he had his arms up there! I mean its a football, not a medicine ball it won't hurt that much to take one in the face. Cleverley received his final warning off the referee and SAF immediately took him off. Wilshere then received his final warning and Wenger kept him on to continue running around the pitch fouling players and he eventually got himself sent off. Any clear minded neutral could see that, but then again ABUs hatred of United clouds every incident in every game.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    I feel sorry for Wenger.
    My beloved Reds were on a different plane yesterday to Arsenal.
    When you think of the playerd Wenger has nurtured and lost these last 3/4 years,yet he still tries to instill the football which is a joy to see.
    But by hell,they were poor!
    No fight,no passion and it seems the fans are starting to feel a wee bit restless. I commented last season that maybe a change of club would benefit Mr Wenger. Certainly,the players he has now are a pale shadow of the team he had in the early noughties.
    Utd continue to win games with just enough to spare. Rooney's conversion to midfield engine player continues,RVP scores yet again and even Evra is showing signs of turning the clock back 3yrs.
    There can be no complaints about the penalty. Also Wilshere,like Cleverley was booked for his first foul. Like Cleverley,the ref let the 2nd foul go. Fergie then took Tom off because another foul would mean a sending off. Wenger took the gamble and lost.
    Utd have now beaten Arsenal,Chelsea and the scouse and stand at the summit.
    As yet no comment from a bertie about yet another wrong decision that favoured the noisy neighbours.

  • Comment number 64.

    Lol, still obsessed with using my name.

    How lonely those nights must be......

  • Comment number 65.

    gunningforyou @42

    @30 good comments which I generally agree with. The press love to hate the gunners - e.g. if we play badly and win we are lucky, the others do it and the sign of champions!
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    When 'the sign of champions is play badly and still win' is used. It is normally applied to a team who could win the league. That is the last thing Arsenal could do at the moment.

    What started out as a marvelous experiment, an attempt to create a completely new style for a club steeped in the ways of traditional English football. It looks to be grinding to a halt.

    Maybe we should be looking back to see where it went wrong, personally i believe Wenger had the right approach but failed to see the need to balance a team. In other words he went too far with the experiment. He certainly never replaced top class players who left the club, with the quality needed.

    Wenger, himself seems isolated in a league which has seen teams [Utd, City and chelsea] pull away from Arsenal, whilst others [Spurs and Everton] have almost caught up with them.

    It is sad to see it happening because for a while he looked as though he could make it happen.

  • Comment number 66.

    @5
    yes Chelsea's first team beat a United side lead by 38 year old Ryan Giggs and containing those stalwarts of the first team that are Keane, Wootton, Buttner, Powell, Tunnicliffe and Macheda. Good for them.
    And Chelsea are the bullies here. They hounded Anders Frisk out of the game all those years ago and they are trying to bully Clattenberg out too. As a club, from the board through the players to the fans Chelsea are a stain on English football and WHEN their accusations against Clattenberg are found to be false they must be severely punished.

  • Comment number 67.

    Post 58 - Ah, the fallacy about Paul Scholes being "the best midfield player of his generation"? I think Zinedine Zidane, Andrea Pirlo, Xavi and Andres Iniesta might have something to say about that. One of the finest British midfield players of the last 15 years but no more. A bit of a flat-track bully - couldn't adapt to international level - undoubtedly had superb technique, but could never run a game at top European/International level.

  • Comment number 68.

    All I want is a decent game with no sent off or soft penalty just like the last C1 match @ SB or Manchester Derby.

    mano a mano. Too much to ask?

  • Comment number 69.

    @67 well I know Zidane and Xavi have something to say about it, since Zidane called Scholes the best midfielder he had ever played against and Xavi called him his role model.

  • Comment number 70.

    Could I just ask if people are going to post in English on this site that they try to construct proper sentences so that they don't come across as ill bred simpletons...Chelsea fans this does not apply to you, we all know this would be too much for your primitive minds.

  • Comment number 71.

    Goluboy: you need to learn to string a sentence together.

    For what it's worth, Torres was fouled by Evans. It was a bad decision. However, Torres arguably should have been sent off earlier for a studs-in-shoulder challenge on Cleverley.

    The Chicharito goal was offside. United got lucky there, just as Chelsea got lucky at Old Trafford with a title-winning Drogba goal a few years ago: https://twitter.com/NeymarsHaircut/status/262616246040817666/photo/1

    It is statistically harder for visitors to get a penalty at Stamford Bridge than anywhere else in the League. It is actually harder to get a penalty at Fulham than Old Trafford: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/03/27/its-harder-to-win-a-penalty-at-craven-cottage-than-old-trafford/

    Further, had the correct decisions been made, United would have actually won the League last season: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/manchester-united/9258810/Manchester-United-have-cause-for-complaint-as-unique-survey-highlights-Premier-League-errors.html

    If you want to argue against independent statistics, then I'm afraid that's where rational conversation ends.

  • Comment number 72.

    @67
    Michael Ballack, Claude Makelele, Guti, Clarence Seedorf, Deco and Patrick Vieira could all be added to that list. Even Santi Cazorla is worthy of a mention; would the Paul Scholes of any age have won 50 caps in this current Spain team?

  • Comment number 73.

    Also if this carries on i cannot see Walcott signing a new contract and staying at the club next season, i know some like him whilst others dislike him, he is a little like marmite. He can be as frustrating as he can devastatingly effective as we saw at Reading but we have to look at the quality of the opposition when making these assessments because in the first half of that match we made Reading look far better and that illusion was down to how bad we played in that half. That result only goes to prove many points about this current arsenal team and managers attitude.

  • Comment number 74.

    framehead @57

    Jumping on the bandwagon about Andre Santos is so lame as well - he was beaten by Valencia probably 2-3 times today only (no different from any other full-back, and Santos' game is about committing forward as a very attacking full-back). Your 'hapless foreign full-back' thesis is embarrassingly akin to the worst in your profession - the likes of Shearer and Hansen. No one ever criticises Leighton Baines for ever being a great attacking full-back, who can't actually defend very well
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    You cannot be seriously putting Baines and Santos in the same sentence when it comes to defending or attacking for that matter.

    You obviously have not watched Santos play that many games, positionally he is the worst back in the league. That is where his problems start. He has no idea how to challenge for the ball or make a tackle.

    It is no use saying he is a very attacking full back. He is in a defenders position and as yet, he has failed to show he can defend.

  • Comment number 75.

    @69

    You've been brainwashed! Zidane etc were just being polite when asked by English news outlets before European games (how good is Scholes/Gerrard/Rooney etc). Of course, they see the highlights of Scholes & co destroying Bolton, Wigan and West Ham etc each week, but I fancy there's a touch of condescension in their declarations on Scholes.

  • Comment number 76.

    Of course, it's not just Santi Cazorla of the current crop of Spanish players who are worthy of this honour. Busquets, Alonso, Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta, Silva and Pedro are all names I'd sooner have on my teamsheet than Paul Scholes, even in his best days of getting soundly beaten by the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 60

    Who was complaining? The only thing that I have any grievance over is the fact that his second challenge wasn't shown on MOTD and Wilshere's was. I have nothing to complain about because I didn't see the tackle. That was my whole point!

    I am glad the referee was consistent but I would like MOTD to be as consistent and show all of the highlights and not just glorify the Man Utd one's.

  • Comment number 78.

    @72
    Scholes is English so I don't really know what you are getting at there. Guti is there on your list and hardly ever played for Spain so that undermines whatever you were trying to string together there.

  • Comment number 79.

    Ha, post 71. Golubaby..... 'Has proven you are wrong' as you always beg for.

    We all await your usual incoherent non sensical response.

  • Comment number 80.

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

  • Comment number 81.

    Really? Busquets one of the best midfielders in the world? I watch a fair bit of Spanish and European football and its not a title I would attach to that particular player...

  • Comment number 82.

    @74

    Yes, I am putting Baines and Santos in the same sentence. People only worship Baines because of what he does going forward (buccaneering runs, superb left foot, great set pieces) - and Santos is of a similar vein. Remember Roberto Carlos? He was a left-back and flew forward, and sometimes got out of position. That's what you get with Santos - he actually made a couple of brilliant tackles and interceptions today - but the MOTD pundits only choose to highlight when he was beaten by Valencia or was out of position. Arsenal like to play with a high line to compress the play, so that often means that a classy, pacy right-winger like Valencia will get behind Santos from time-to-time. But last season, Santos was Arsenal's left-back more regularly than Gibbs, and Arsenal finished 3rd, so he must have been doing something right (along with RvP of course!)

  • Comment number 83.

    @ Senor Vasquez

    I have limited access to the internet right now, due to being at work so can you tell me if the website you have posted regarding winning penalties at Old Trafford in comparison to Craven Cottage is about the number of penalties, or the number of wrong penalties given?

    If it is the former, then it really has no bearing on anything because correct penalty decisions don't actually matter and people will, generally, not complain about them. If it is the latter, then it does have some standing in your argument.

    On the website about the wrong decisions, can you tell me who the people are the have decided these decisions and is there a list?

  • Comment number 84.

    Chicarito has been known to dive and carded before? No? (vs Newcastle?)Correct me if I'm wrong.

  • Comment number 85.

    Yes, Scholes is indeed English, but I used the hypothetical argument that if he were eligible to play for Spain, and had he chosen that option, would he have won 50 caps playing in the current Spain side? I highly doubt it.
    As for Guti, yes, he didn't play as many games for Spain as perhaps he should have, but he was the midfield metronome for the best part of a decade in an awesome Real Madrid side that swept almost all competition for several years, and believe me, that competition was plentiful, both domestically and continentally.

  • Comment number 86.

    Liverpaul85: it was not a criticism of you, but of those complaining about the referee.

    Re: Paul Scholes

    Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Davids, Henry, Zidane, Pele, Maradona, Lippi, Guardiola, Vieira, Hansen, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gerrard, Figo, Beckham and others have all called him one of, if not the best midfielder of his generation.

    It is impossible to be anything other than subjective as to 'who is the greatest' etc, but Scholes is certainly part of that debate in the last 20 years.

  • Comment number 87.

    Also Andre Santos has won 20 caps for Brazil, and played for a variety of top clubs across South America and Europe, so the xenophobic condescension and trying to reduce him to the level of a sunday league player really is unfair.

  • Comment number 88.

    So on an article about Arsenal we have Chelsea fans having a go at United, ABUs having a go at Scholes and a man trying to convince us all that Santos is a good left back. Shows two things: ABUs are obsessed with United and need to realise hating United doesn't equal supporting your club and that some Arsenal fans really are deluded.

  • Comment number 89.

    @85 when people need to start working with hypotheticals to make their points then they really have no point at all.

  • Comment number 90.

    69. At 00:57 4th Nov 2012, andrew9090 wrote:
    --------------------------------------

    Don't based it on HEARSAY or French satire or Spanish Gamesmanship.
    The proof is in the pudding.
    Where are all the individual titles for Best Midfielder? Compare to Lamps or Gerrard or even Hargreaves (there you go I don't discrimminate against MU players). There should be honour & not shamelessly committing idolatry in one's posting as by some Scholes supporters.

  • Comment number 91.

    @84 Drogba dived his way through his whole career at Chelsea so its a bit rich a chelsea fan having a go at another teams player.

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 82

    I have to disagree with you, Baines is a far better left back than Santos. Any player should be able to make a couple of good tackles (apart from Scholes) and a couple of good interceptions but that is not enough! There has to be more to a defender than that and he doesn't offer that at all. In the last 2-3 games every report I have read has said he is the weakest link in the Arsenal team. Can that many people really be wrong?!

    I find it funny that you say about Gibbs because he has generally been Arsenals left back this season and wasn't he injured most of last season, but generally was first choice when fit!

  • Comment number 93.

    @90 what individual awards did Pele win to justify his claims to be one of the greatest players of all time? You are talking nonsense and making a fool of yourself with your jealous and bitter rants against Manchester United. Grow up and get over it.

  • Comment number 94.

    Framehead @75

    Try looking at Scholes prior to Erickson's reign, he score 10 goals, a 1 in 3 strike rate for England from midfield.

    Erickson onwards, a 1 in 9 strike rate, sadly never used after 2000, in a role where he was so effective.

    By the way his goals to games ratio, prior to Ericksons reign compare with any midfielder of his time at international level.

  • Comment number 95.

    Lol, my work here is clearly done.

  • Comment number 96.

    @89
    What?! Hypotheticals help to strengthen one's argument by putting a degree of relativity onto the point(s) one is trying to make. It's just as hypothetical to suggest that all that roster of football people who apparently laud Scholes in some god-like manner actually believed what they were saying, as opposed to merely satisfying the irksome English press drooling over their golden boy.

  • Comment number 97.

    So before even 100 comments, at this time of the morning on a saturday night/sunday morning we already have the Hate Man Utd, These players dive and good old Goluboy!

    What an exciting blog this promises to be! Oh wait....no, it will be exactly the same as any other. We'll get to about 1000 comments then the focus of the discussion will change to either politcis, religion or ancient history with the odd splatter of football talk from non regulars.

    So....on the diving issue, I can't think of one player who hasn't gone down easily, gone down without being touched or over exaggerrated a injury. So why do we keep having this debate. No club has the moral high ground over any other!!

  • Comment number 98.

    @92

    Yes, Gibbs is Arsenal's first choice left-back, but as you correctly reference, he was injured for most of last season, so Andre Santos was Arsenal's most frequent left-back and they finished 3rd.

    All of the Arsenal players have been poor the last 3-4 games, not just Santos, that's why they're losing. A more perceptive pundit wld probably intuit that Vermaelen is falling drastically short of previous standards, and that without Diaby (usually replaced by Ramsey), Arsenal's midfield is a lot weaker. I think you're falling for the sucker, "blame the comedy left-back" routine of mediocre pundits like McNulty, Hansen, Savage and Shearer.

  • Comment number 99.

    90.
    At 01:16 4th Nov 2012, Goluboy wrote:

    Look Chelsea were beat 3-2, get over it. They have been on the end of many a favourable decision over the years and the stats printed in post 71 reveal an interesting picture.

  • Comment number 100.

    Liverpaul85: Given that I'm dropping off as I type (gutted for you being at work, mate!) I won't work through the mechanics of each independent survey. Suffice to say that both are published in separate broadsheets and are wholly independent. I invite you to look through the methodology of both at a more decent hour.

    Goodnight all.

 

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