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Match Ratings v.Manchester United

Match Ratings v.Manchester United

1.Manuel ALMUNIA- After his early brain fart in picking up Silvestre's backpass, applied himself well, made the saves he needed to and literally put his body on the line for the cause. 7

2.Abou DIABY- Applied himself brilliantly and worked tirelessly all day closing down United in their own half and using his physicalpresence to full effect. If he works this hard in every game, he'll be some player yet. 7.5

3.Bacary SAGNA- Manfully played on through obvious discomfort, had Eboue been fit I am sure Banger would not have been placed in the firing line. He performed with a grit and determination befitting of an Arsenal player. Does suffer with having Walcott in front of him, but I don't think his ankle would have stood up to constant raids forwards anyway. 7.5

4.Francesc FABREGAS- His passing once again looked woefully out of sorts and for much of the game was completely overshadowed bu his partner Denilson (who we are led to believe is responsible for Cesc's average form). That said one pirouhette and pass to Nasri in the second half wins us the game. Big players, like big teams, produce even when they're not playing well. 6

8.Samir NASRI- His defensive output was woeful in the first half, which he corrected emphatically in the second. But on a day when our front two really needed support from midfield, Nasri responded with two goals and a performance that will increase his growing influence on the side. 7.5

10.William GALLAS(c)- Has been questioned more than most of late and responded with a top class performance, firstly by showing he is the world class centre half we all suspect he is, but also as a rallier and an organiser. Had much to do with the defensive resolve showed in the second half and grimaced with pain clutching his thigh throughout. Rightly criticised for his early season form, but I suspect I will be the lone Arsenal blogger to credit him for the turnaround. 8

14.Theo WALCOTT- Largely ineffective upfront, save for a good run which cleared the way for Nasri's second goal. Defensively poor and having allowed Evra to run past him unchecked for Ronaldo's goal in this fixture last season, it's galling that he had not learned that lesson. Before anyone bleats about 'naivety' or 'injuries', ask yourself honestly if you'd cut Eboue or Adebayor that sort of slack. 5

15.DENILSON Pereira de Neves- One of United's great strengths is their fluidity in attack, with Tevez, Giggs, Park, Rooney and Ronaldo all equally capable of swapping positions at any given time. That Denilson dealt with this threat so intelligently and had the confidence to play the ball out from the edge of our own area in a simple and unfussy fashion spoke volumes, an excellent performance. 8

18.Mikael SILVESTRE- Started somewhat shakily, but settled into the game to put in as composed an impressive performance as we have seen since his arrival. Another one who played through the pain barrier. 7.5

22.Gael CLICHY- His consistent, constant self. A harmonious mixture of composed defending and vibrant attacking. That Ronaldo had a very quiet second half tells you all you need to know. 7.5

26.Nicklas BENDTNER- Charged with the most thankless job in football and performed his duty impressively. He worked very, very hard and offered a goal threat, even if he couldn't provide the finish. Maybe not his most fulminating match, but to me, the biggest sign yet we have a player with special potential. 7


17.Alexandre Song Billong- Came on with a positive attitude and tried to protect his back four ernestly. Might have looked for the pass instead of the long clearance in the build up to United's goal. 6

21.Lukasz Fabianski- Thrown into the cauldron with twelve minutes left and left the game relatively unschathed. Took corsses impressively under pressure, nothing he could have done about Rafael's special goal. 7.5

5.Kolo Toure- Came on for the last five minutes and collapsed on the floor in front of me after his miniature run out. This man needs a couple of weeks doing some laps around the training pitch because he is completely unfit. 5

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday November 9 2008
Time: 6:32PM


If I were (still) a blogger I would join you in the appreciation of Gallas. And your comment about Eboue and Adebayor is well and truly justified.
09/11/2008 18:40:00
It amazing how little people "bleated" about Robert Pires's defensive inabilities. I'm repeating myself here but if Wenger deems Walcott's talents more important to the team than having someone with more defensive capabilities, then it's down to him to compensate for that.
09/11/2008 18:49:00
Answer on other thread, but Pires was defensively much cleverer than he was given credit for. He didn't need to slide headlong into tackles because he was positioned correctly. Walcott doesn't even try, I think we now have to play him upfront or else only use himf or the last twenty minutes. There'snothing to stop him being able to drift out wide and hurt teams out there if he was played as an auxillary striker. We had a srtiker who did that quite well once upon a time.
Little Dutch
09/11/2008 18:54:00
Responded re Pires over there!!
09/11/2008 18:58:00
On Gallas, I felt he'd usually up his game against big opponents and he did, despite coming back from injury. The other patched-up guys like Sagna and Silvestre also battled admirably. Theo didn't track back as much as perhaps necessary. But he did improve a bit in the second half. And had it been Eboue, we wouldn't be talking about a real lack of tracking back. While some Gooners might not cut him the same sort of slack, I would have, just for the record. In fact had he been available, I bet the boss would have started him and used THeo as an impact sub. Kolo's unfit, but he did okay playing out of position again, an improvement on the previous game. I would personally give Theo and Kolo just slightly more generous marking, maybe 5.5. Agreed otherwise.
09/11/2008 19:23:00
Excellent ratings LD. Spot on with your assessment of Gallas. I just saw a repeat of the game, and my word, he was excellent. Excellent positioning, intercepted dangerous balls, won so many headers that I lost count. Good one on Bendtner, dont know why people arent rating that effort highly. He was consistenlty faster than Ferdinand, ran behind him and beat him with intelligence. His finishing will improve with more chances. Question though - will he start against Wigan ? He will also have to play against Villa which means 4 games in 2 weeks. I guess this is his chance and he needs to make the most of it.
09/11/2008 19:58:00
As for Theo, he is a bit one dimensional. The only thing he does is makes runs and most of them are hasty and unintelligent. He does not know when to time his runs, and where to make them. If he makes one good run, its often after 6 bad ones. He does not hold onto the ball, doesnt go into positions to receive the ball, doesnt track back. I'm not writing him off, or criticising him excessively (rather, I hope I'm not), but I believe that is a fair assessment of what he brings to this team. He will get better, although I wonder how footballing intelligence can be taught. Its a catch 22 though, if Theo is played upfront now or if he is played for only 20 mins, he will never learn to improve his game. Its a balance between immediate impact and what he can offer to us in the long term.
09/11/2008 20:02:00
The comparison of Theo with Pires is the wrong one. Pires was a genuine midfielder and while not a great tackler understood his wider role in terms of tracking back and filling the space that an opposing forward might target. The correct comparison is with Overmars who, if Parlour is to be believed, was less concerned with such responsibilities but played more as an auxiliary forward. Theo's game isn't as developed as Overmars was but it is true that he did try to track back more in the ManU game and with slightly greater effect than I had seen in other games. But he is never going to be a midlfielder. The benefit of playing Diaby is that he helps plug the reduced resources in midfield when Walcott is playing but it requires great understanding between the midfielders in order to cover the movement of players.
09/11/2008 20:32:00
So when Eduardo returns...
09/11/2008 22:16:00
I truly cannot wait when Eduardo comes back, that will be the happiest moment of my season!
09/11/2008 22:26:00
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