Gunners Disappoint Against Depleted Red Devils
Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal
For the first time in a very long while, I was confident going into the game against Manchester United due to the vast amount of injuries at their ranks. Heading into yesterday’s game, Louis van Gaal was without Chris Smalling (shoulder), Matteo Darmian (shoulder), Phil Jones (lack of match fitness), Luke Shaw (leg), Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (knock), Antonio Valencia (foot), Bastian Schweinsteiger (knee), Marouane Fellaini (thigh), Ashley Young (groin), Wayne Rooney (knee) and Anthony Martial (hamstring).
Wenger fielded a very strong side and I was quite happy to see an attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott but sadly, Sanchez and Walcott performed very poorly. Early on, Nacho Monreal had a chance to replicate his heroics in the FA Cup quarterfinal last season but this time, David de Gea (who had recovered from a knee injury) made a strong save. The Gunners went behind in typical Arsenal circumstances. Varela swung in a cross that was fluffed by Gabriel Paulista, and the ball fell to Rashford that placed the ball to Petr Cech’s roof. I really don’t know what was going through Gabriel’s head but if that was how he was going to replace Per Mertesacker, he wasn’t putting a good audition.
Rashford’s fairy tale debut continued as Jesse Lingard and Varela did some good work on the right before dinking a cross that was headed home by an unmarked Rashford. How he was allowed that much freedom was shocking to me but for a team fighting for the title, losing 2-0 wasn’t going to help their cause. The Gunners pulled one back when Mesut Ozil crossed a ball that was headed to the net by former Manchester United boy, Danny Welbeck. The forward didn’t celebrate the goal as the Gunners went into halftime trailing by a single goal.
Theo Walcott was a largely anonymous figure in the first half with only 16 touches of the ball (including the mistake that led to the first goal) but for some strange reason, Arsene Wenger left him on the pitch for an additional 15 before replacing him with the man that hasn’t scored in eight games. Walcott’s goal tally was two in 22, even though the most recent came in the victory over Leicester.
Those that were thinking that the Gunners would get the equalizer were deeply mistaken as schoolboy defending was the order of the day for the home side’s third goal. After yet another wasteful corner kick, Manchester United instigated a counter attack with Rashford and he dallied on the ball before teeing up an unmarked Ander Herrera at the edge of the box (where the hell were his markers). Herrera curled a shot that Cech might probably had saved but the ball deflected off Laurent Koscielny’s chest to put the game beyond doubt.
Arsenal reduced the deficit with a rather scrappy effort from Ozil and at that point, a draw would have been a good result because the performance was so disappointing. Wenger bewildered the fans by bringing on Alex Iwobi for Welbeck and the young Nigerian looked out of his depth. Even after Mike Dean gave five minutes of stoppage time, it wasn’t enough as the Gunners lost further ground on the title race when it looked as if they were actually gaining momentum following the win over Leicester.
With Leicester getting maximum points at home to Norwich and Tottenham edging out Swansea, Arsenal has been left further behind and will be hoping to bounce back against a Swansea side that bested them last season. Wenger’s post-match conference was even more disappointing and as things stand, I’m so ashamed of the lads for bottling things up yet again.
Just when you think that the Gunners can make things work, they go out and slap you in the face with another shocking result. All hope is not lost yet though.
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