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Manchester United 0 Arsenal 0

Waking at 4am in teeming rain to drive to a party you've not been invited to and that you do not really want to be at is not the most prurient desire of the football fan. Indeed, I was aware of many Gooners who had given up their tickets for this match, a bit immature really, but I guess some people are just weak characters. Sometimes in football, as in life, you've just got to take your medicine and keep smiling. But us Arsenal apparatchiks motored on regardless, driving past an uncomfortable amount of cars decked out in United colours. United fans driving to the game from the South? Hard to believe isn't it?

Arsenal fans made it into the ground and were on good voice, the obviously defiant rendition of 'We won the league in Manchester' was repeated with quite some gusto. United's support was startlingly quiet throughout the entire game. The tannoy had to step in on their behalf both pre match and at half time with an intentionally antagonistic and quite poor recording of Doris Day's 'Que sera, sera' but with the lyrics replaced to 'we went to Arsenal and scored three, now we're going to Italy.' A touch classless but ultimately all fun and games. The away fans' response was to chant Thierry Henry's name, nailing their colours to the mast come May 27th. Naturally, now he has left Arsenal, he might well have worked out how not to bottle a major final. The game began with United looking uncharcateristically guarded, needing only a point to secure the title, the psychological impediment to attack had been soemwhat compromised. This translated into the home support who looked on in tense silence. I realise our home ground is no cauldron of noise, but I just get really annoyed when people suggest that is a situation unique to Arsenal. 'Shit support and that's a fact' came the response from around me in the East Stand, whilst one young man volubly derided the affair with, 'what a shitty party.'

Arsenal took control of possession but United's rearguard is one precocious unit indeed. As with dozens of other teams this season, United worked out that if you force Arsenal out to the flanks, you can leave them to their own devices such is the poverty of the crossing. Time and again, the ball was worked out to Sagna, who largely turned in poor crosses. On the rare occasions that he was able to lift the ball higher than three feet, van Persie found himself alone in a sea of United defenders. The Gunners first chance came when Arshavin drifted over to the right, presumably fed up with Sagna's non league quality crossing and delivered a precise floating ball over to van Persie at the backpost, which evaded Vidic, but the Dutch striker panicked and headed over when he probably had time to take the ball down. United forged an identical chance minutes later when Carrick swung a ball over Sagna's head to the back post and Rooney, peeling in from the left flank, headed narrowly wide. United briefly stirred, Rooney played a ball to the onrushing Giggs, he partied like it was 1999 as once again he got a fortuitous bounce off an Arsenal centre half, Toure's tackle ricocheting right into his path, but he tamely blasted the ball over on this occasion. 'Player of the year? You're having a laugh,' came the mocking retort.

But Arsenal reassumed control of the game, Arshavin weaved in and out between O'Shea and Evans, marauding into the box before Vidic's interception halted him at the crucial moment. Arshavin again it was who was causing the problems when he skipped past O'Shea to the byline, pulled the ball back to Nasri, his shot was trickling wide, van Persie attempted to redirect it but could not angle his foot correctly. Arsenal's task was being made harder by an almost venal referee, Giggs' lunge on Denilson went unpunished, whilst Nasri, Fabregas, Song and Arshavin were all booked for their first offences. Of those, only Fabregas' was clearly deserved. Nasri's foul on Evra appears in the English dictionary next to the word 'innocuous', yet because Evra screwed his face up tightly enough and let the bottom lip tremble, Dean did as he was told. To think Evra had the temerity to refer to Arsenal players as babies. Every performative Ronaldo swan dive was rewarded, whilst Denilson was twice kicked and penalised for trying to stay on his feet. It was quite an unbelievable performance from Dean, the worst I have seen in one of our games this season. It is the only time in some years I have indefinitely felt the referee was not merely incompetent, but just plain biased. He did not even make it subtle, ensuring plenty of invective from 3,000 supporters who had spent a lot of money and time to travel to a fixture and watch a referee try and spoil it. I thank my lucky stars United did not make it into the penalty area above twice, because I'm sure he would have willingly serviced United to the Sretford End's instruction.

I expected a different United in the second period, I could not see Ferguson allowing his players more malaise. But United's number one priority was not to concede and fair play to them, theirs is the best defence on earth at the moment and they are quite capable of neutering the most potent of attacks. Arsenal forrayed down the right again, Fabregas playing in Sagna, he pulled the ball back to Arshavin on the edge of the box, the diminutive Russian shifted the ball to Gibbs on the left who fired into the side netting. What a wonderful and deserved tonic a goal would have been for him. United were by no means at full tilt in an attacking sense, yet Gibbs still had the thankless task of shackling Ronaldo, a task he performed with distinction. (Ronaldo did not produce much in a footballing sense, but his amusingly self centred diva strops ensured he stayed centre stage. I think Ferguson will get rid this summer). The home side's best chance arrived on 65 minutes, the tireless Fletcher roared down the right and cut the ball back to Tevez, he brilliantly ousted Toure on the turn before a risky slide tackle from Fabianski denied him, Ronaldo blasted the ball well over from the rebound. Credit to Tevez for staying on his feet under Fabianski's challenge, Tevez would have been fully aware that Dean would have given him a penalty the second he hit the turf.

Tevez was substituted shortly after, drawing loud boos for Ferguson from the Old Trafford crowd. It was the first noise they had made all day, Tevez waved a very deliberate goodbye to all four sides of the ground. 'You'll never play here again' was the unsympathetic response from the visitors' section. Sometimes it is important we realise that Arsenal fans aren't the only ones in the world who unreasonably boo their own, Ferguson was booed by his own fans on the day he landed his 11th league title. United can think themselves unlucky to have had a goal ruled out when Ji Sung Park played Ronaldo in behind the Arsenal defence, but he was incorrectly adjudged offside by the linesman. Ronaldo then blasted a free kick agonisingly wide, as Wenger bought on Walcott on the left- an indication of how little change Theo got out of Evra in the last fortnight- and Bendtner. United sat back for the last twenty minutes and Arsenal were enthused. Bendtner gave the ball to Alex Song on the egde of the area, he brilliantly shifted his feet to evade two challenges before nudging the ball left to Fabregasand his left foot shot cannoned off the post and wide. Despite no touch from van der Sar, the linesman gave a corner. It would appear the assistant referee was trying to even out Dean's unabashed support for the home side.

Nerves jangled in Old Trafford when a Rooney foul and customary dissent saw Arsenal awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Rooney, naturally, was not booked. van Persie's wicked delivery was headed out for a corner as Arsenal scented blood. But Dean alleviated the injury time pressure by giving a non existent foul in the box before blowing the whistle a good sixty seconds early. The celebrations began in ernest as United were crowned champions, and deservedly so. We stayed to applaud our players, who gave us the reaction we wanted after their poor capitulation to Chelsea last week. But we filed out before the presentation took place, if you've ever been to Old Trafford you know how horrendous the traffic gets on Europa Way, it was pleasing and a little surreal to make such a swift escape when leaving this ground usually results in a good hour sat stationary on Sir Matt Busby Way. Though United were not at their best, it was a pleasing display, albeit we could not break United down readily. van Persie worked tirelessly as a lone striker but was too often isolated and not supported by Nasri or Fabregas. The end result was that we could not threaten. Arshavin's guile seemed to be the only thing we could count on fora breakthrough. I will also say, because nobody else will, how much more solid we looked in front of the defence with Denilson marshalling, breaking up United's counter attacks and retaining possession in difficult areas. It's no coincidence we have shipped so many goals since he was dropped for Song, I'm just desperately sorry Arsenal fans refuse to recognise it. The pain of watching and listening to United celebrate should be the tonic to motivate us for next season. For now, congratulations to United, but be warned, don't write us off next season.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday May 17 2009

Time: 12:47PM

Your Comments

Correct about Denilson LD. I was one of few to recognize that Song looked good because Denilson was next to him when he came into the team. Yes, Song has done well and looked very comfortable and in a way, deserved his place ahead of Denilson as the sole partner alongside Cesc, but if it were a choice between the two, I would have Denilson every day on talent and ability. Song deserved his place at the time, but Denilson is still the better of the two. But to be honest, I think it proves that we do need one player to come in and play that holding role alongside Cesc because both of these players have been great and bad at times.
i think that rooney should have got booked for shouting at the linesman for giving a foul in the irst half.... as for your first comment "a bit immature really, but I guess some people are just weak characters" i think that is a very poor outlook to have to regards your fellow almost smacks as arrogance from you.....what gives you the right to judge? i didnt have a ticket....if i had i wouldnt go because i cant stand Utd,their fans, the city,the area around the stadium, the journey,the early kick off, their manager,their sick song towards our manager their lack of class,the bias from the FA and officals towards went, great, bully for you,but i would never have gone to that game, because i am not a MUG or a sucker for please can we have a little bit less of your sanctimonious attitude.
fran merida
A little bit curious, it is suggested we are miles away from the other three in the top four then how come that we beat manure at home drew away beat the chavs away lost at home and drew with the pool home and away?
Sanctimony? Maybe, but that's how I feel. 3,032 others went too, if you've got pride, there's no need to hide. Front it out and support your team, you'll feel much better for it. I think it was immature for Gooners to boycott the game, you've got to learn how to lose in life.
Little Dutch
Bull***** fran merida, if you wouldn't ever go to that game and LD would then he has every right to claim he's a better supporter of the club than you. Supporters are supposed to support, not selectively, not when it suits you, but unconditionally and unequivocally. You can't just turn it on and off at your convenience or want and then claim to be as die hard a fan as the ones who go every week. Real fans travel mate, whenever they can, regardless of situation or result.
Ozi Gooner
The truth is - we arent many miles away from the other top 4, but we arent able to bridge that gap when the big games come calling. I was quite happy with that performance - all the players atlest looked like they gave a damn. The ManU players were all closed down, and hassled when in possession. Each player showed urgency when they had the ball, and when they didnt. Wenger says there isnt a problem offensively as we've only scored 3 goals leser than ManU, but when it matters, we arent able to open up defences and finish clinically. I find that a little worrying and I hope thats fixed over the summer.
prits...or maybe its because MaN U had already felt theyd won the title and didnt need to try and beat u & because they felt sorry 4 u after analising u twice in a month already...just a thought....
I Bling Red
Glad to see you pick Den's pic to go with this match report LD. He impressed me again, tracking back, winning balls and placing simple passes to the attacking players - he almost did as much DM work as Carrick did. I agree with Prits - I'd even say our first XI is as good as anyone's in England. It's just the injuries (especially those players in the same area) and the quality of our bench that makes the difference.
guys, any link for the academy final?
I just hope this is the usual rubbish but I do fear,19528,11661_5331367,00.html. The old saying don't hope for what you wish for.
This is just a follow on to the one above now i am worried.
we need to tie down Arsene to a new contract in the summer. even if it is only a 2 year extension. that would take him to 2014. but we definetly need to do that. and i feel why he is saying it would be interesting to work under Perez is because Perez will get him any player in the world that he wants. and may Arsene is getting a bit frustrated with the fact that we can't sign expensive players (not big games but players who are extremely talented and will not come cheap). the way the Arhsavin saga dragged on proves my point. so lets give the manager all the money that he feels he needs to strengthen the team and really push for honours next season and also tie him down to an extension before the season starts..
arsenal academy beat the spuds 1-0
underground gooner
hehe thanks for the info ud gooner, finally some good news..
underground gooner is there a report on the match anywhere? luckys_10 we need a bit of good news.
I Bling Red - perhaps ManU were so generous earlier in the season also when we beat them 2-1. Got any thoughts on that? Some people just say the stupidest things.
Ozi thats easy for you to say,considering you havent travelled all over europe supporting Arsenal through thick and thin for over 20 from North London,i support my Local club...can you say that? and i know physically,mentally and emotionally what its like to be in a situation like yesterday,do you? and had i a ticket i wouldnt want to be there wasting my time,and money(over£100) considering i have to come up with £1400 to pay for next season...i said bully for him for wanting to do it,but he is a lot younger and the cynicism hasnt set in yet,fair play to him and all that but it doesnt give anyone the right to put someone down for not wanting to be anywhere near manchester or a london pub full of mancs...and it doesnt make him a better supporter,or me any less because he has the time, money and emotional strength to its not in your blood i wouldnt expect you to fully understand how someone so close to the club really feels, what with you being so far away
fran merida
its simple swap managers, let yer ladies manager mange the boys team an let wenger manage coach the ladies team, perfect
top 4 no longer exists, its the top 3 now get over it gunners yer miles behind top 3. 4 years no trophy, says it all an fans leaving is a bit of a habbit now after 60 min, an luck 10 want to give him a new contract.......pmsl, yer a team in no mans land
stupid things??...get off the crack Prits analysis was based on Utds desire 2 clearly sit back and only come 4ward during a counter attack...u beat them 2-1 but only a fool would use that to suggest u can compete with Utd the way u are seeming to imply...dont blame me 4 your teams shortcomings...look a little closer 2 home...
I Bling Red
Liverpool - three years and no trophy, and it will be four next year because they sure as hell won't win the league.
Fran merida, I may not travel to Arsenal games, but I do travel, and do support my local club. Remember when criticising those you know SFA about it's not always black and white. Down in Australia, our shortest away game is as far, if not further away than your longest. Our longest is the equivalent of traveling from London to Moscow. I know all about away travel mate, just cos it's not for Arsenal does not mean I don't do it. Away games are in my blood as much as LD's and yours.
Ozi Gooner
the fact is you are apparently an Arsenal fan on an Arsenal website calling me a bad supporter, or fake even, because i pick and choose my away games....when i dont even know if you have ever been to an Arsenal away game in your life..sorry to say but im not interested in what you do in Australia,i know its a big place ive been there myself....i dont go to certain Arsenal away games Man-utd Chelsea and Spurs coz i cant stand going there...simple as.....i just dont like it when you or anybody tells me whats-what when they dont know what they are talking about through their lack of English/European fooball me you have no idea what its like, and i cant be bothered with it anymore, for me certain grounds have been blacklisted...check out We Are The Herd
fran merida
I'm not calling you a bad fan, I'm saying that if LD does go to every away game when others choose not to because the result doesn't matter or it's to depressing then he has the right to a bit of sanctimony. That's all. I know about the Herd. What's your point? Should firms not more than anyother fan travel to every ground? Isn't defending your clubs (and your mates) honour away what it's all about for a firm?
Ozi Gooner
123 a team in no mans land is a team that has never finished in a champions league qualifying spot and spent as much as Chelsea and Manchester United in trying to achieve it. I Bling Red look closer to home when talking about failure, i dont remember you winning anything recently.
Why's it so hard to stay on topic? lol
I am with Ozi you should be prepared to travel for all away games whether it is the equivilant of a trip from London to Moscow or the short trip across town to get your arses whipped by the mighty Tottenham. Here's to the new member of the top 4 for next season whoever that may be.
TeddyLyon, if your parents will not do then I will stop *****ing it will make you go blind.
I Bling Red - I thought it was AW who felt sorry for ferguson that his side was in danger of losing the game and not wrapping up the title. That's why he took off arshavin and nasri, who looked the most likely of players to score for us on the day
Ozi Gooner - Who are you to say someone is only a fan if they travel, that is almost the exact sentiments of your statements. meant or not, that is what I have read into it and from it. I got o home games only, not away games because I don't like alot of grounds and I prefer to watch with friends locally. Does that make me not a fan, who on earth are you or anyone else to tell people who are and who aren't fans, f***ing cheek if you ask me? LD that was a little sanctimonious to say the least, you are usually of a better class than that fella......!
...because someone doesn't feel the need to sacrifice work days, family events and relationships etc in the name of Arsenal doesn't mean they are not afan or less of a fan than someone who's been to an away game, maybe less of a glutton for punishment but no less of a fan.
123spurs - Check the league table, look at yourselves, look at us. Now when your team actually become relevent to ours then we'll ask you back for your opinion. or maybe you'd prefer a thread about the youth team? That's only one up from this one......laters.
Fran - on the Herd site has it got what grounds u've been blacklisted from?! Ozi - you got no right coating off people who don't travel mate, and i can't imagine a matchday experience in oz is that similar to one in England.
I'm not criticising those that didn't go or don't go to away games. My point was that it's a little bit childish for people who bought tickets, put the time and money aside, but as soon as United got the result against Wigan, decided not to go. I do think that it is weak and childish, a bit like slamming your tennis racket down when you are two sets down and saying, "I probably won't win so I'm not playing anymore." These kind of situations show who has character. Trust me, I've seen and experienced things in my life a million times worse than listening to a load of plastic Mancs chanting "Champions." In short, tuck in the bottom lip, get the chin up and deal with it.
Little Dutch
I think anyone who slates other Arsenal followers for being any less or more of a fan is talking utter tripe.
I wasn't questioning fandom, just character. It was a brief aside, but one I stand by fully. Defeat is part of being a football fan and you've got to learn how to take it sometimes.
Little Dutch
Shewore, who said it was the same? I wouldn't want it to be. No flares, no over sized flags, different type of chants to what I like, clearly a bit more agro (some like that, some don't - each to their own). And LondonGooner, I understand some people can't travel all the time (or at all), for whatever reason (financial, family, health), but those who generally do and choose not to for a reason like fran said, I think then LD has a right to be a little but condescending towards them. I'm not saying people who don't follow the team everywhere aren't real fans, that would be stupid, but you're not gonna change my opinion that the most dedicated fans are the ones who make the sacrifices to go to as many away games as they can, that's why they're called sacrifices, cos nobody wants to get up at 4am in the morning and get on a coach for 6 hours to go to a place where everybody hates you, but some still do it for the team.
Ozi Gooner
it sounded like a dig LD. I s'pose I'll have to agree to disagree with you there mate. You think there weak, i think those that went are gluttons for punishment, maybe we're both right??!! All this less or more of a fan malarky is bo**ocks though and no one is fit to judge that, for fear of making themselves look like a complete tool.
Dedicated - Yes. More of a fan - No. I know peopel that are die hard Arsenal fans but could never afford a season ticket. As they have trouble getting away tickets it doesn't make them less or more of a fan. Leave those kind of arguments to the spuddies eh Ozi, it's almost a pi**ing contest mate.
Dedicated - Yes. More of a fan - No. I know peopel that are die hard Arsenal fans but could never afford a season ticket. As they have trouble getting away tickets it doesn't make them less or more of a fan. Leave those kind of arguments to the spuddies eh Ozi, it's almost a pi**ing contest mate.
(sky sport source) whinger having talks with REAL MADRID :D
LG source - Wenger not having talks, Wenger commented on a story in the press about Perez at Madrid wanting him (Spanish press, naturally) and Wenger responded "It would be interesting for a coach"......not exactly what you would call having talks eh?
SKY sports source, Harry Redknapp having talks with man behind a shed with a brown paper bag.
ud love that iceman
You're right, comparing who is a bigger fan is futile. Having the money, time, lack of wife/children, correct work hours, geographical convenience to go is a very delicate balance that few can strike. I didn't feel like a glutton for punishment, my attitude is that I go to watch Arsenal, so ***** what that means for everyone else. If it means losing 5-1 to Spurs, seeing United celebrate the title, or winning the league at WHL, I go to watch and defend my team. As it turned out, it wasn't painful at all, United fans were far too nervous to create a party atmosphere or even mock us, the PA system had to take care of that for them. Plus, I didn't actually have to watch the presentation. I was on a coach and we were told to come straight out after anyway, but getting out of Old Trafford inside 3 days is a miracle and too good an invitation to refuse given the roads outside that place. There was no celebration until after the game and my team's role in proceedings ended there, therefore so did my role. It probably sounds arrogant and sanctimonious, you're probably right, but it's the way I feel. There are only two promises you'll get from me about what I write here, it will not be libellous and it will be what I think.
Little Dutch
My main concern is where do go from here? Will Mr Wenger be allowed to carry on with his project . We are not far off . He knows what we need . When he to The Arsenal came we were not challenging. I agree with him about the negativity that comes from the stands. Do you think its right to single out players? . Footballers need to feel they are the nuts and he is great at making them see their potential. But we have some morons in the crowd who want boo and shout at players. These people should be kicked out the ground. Personally i am great fan of Wenger . I think he has worked miracles at this club and with budget he has to work on . We owe him a bit more time. Please to whoever goes to game on Sunday gainst Stoke. Let's get behind the team and especially our manager. He is one of the best managers in the world and we all know this.
King Kolo
shewore...i meant ive have decided to blacklist them for various reasons...i fully understand what LD is saying ,as ive been there and done all the t-shirts too, but i feel its time for others to experience it....but i wouldnt go to OT not because it was a party that we crashed,i didnt go to the semi of the CL either,its because i really cant stand man-utd, the icing on the cake is the peodophile chant, it really disappoints me that no-one says anything about it, not the FA, sky sports, the newspapers or from within ie bobby charlton,considering that they would go crazy if you disrespected them over munich 58,i think its sick and i dont want to give them any of my money or grace them with my presence....i dont go to spurs because they rip us off on ticket prices and the fans are too moronic, and chelsea coz a few years back they wanted £50 for restricted views, and their fans arent much better than spurs....i like to support my team by other means for example following the youth,/reserves keeps me mellow
fran merida
fran ur so fickle, post was funny though nice read
Going to Youth games for your club is always good, you get to see the next generation without all the sterile and manufactured BS of the big games and stadiums.
Ozi Gooner
Anyone off to the game at the Emirates on Friday?
Yep, and the second leg too. I'm not gonna be sanctimonious about going to the Anfield leg. Particularly as it's on my birthday. I'm quite aware that's just plain sad.
Little Dutch
Yep - should be a good jolly. Need to look into the 2nd leg tho - is it on a Fri? Scousepool's a blinding night out.
"I'm quite aware that's just plain sad" Little Dutch lol yeah we know, but expect nothing less of you mate! I'll be there on Friday, am taking the missus to her first g ame at the Grove. I thought a more genteel affair would be a good initiation into life as a Gooner. Shewore, it's a little bit pikey aswell though mate lol
LD I'm thinking you need to expand your range of hobbies fella!!!
Oh I have a wide range of hobbies, just none that would make me go to Liverpool on a Tuesday night that's also my birthday. Still, going to Anfield to watch us win a trophy on May 26th was just too good to refuse. Liverpool is a decent night out if you hit the right places, but take a wrong turn and it's pikey central. This from someone who spent most of his youth in the nightspots of Croydon. *shudders*
Little Dutch
Could honestly not think of much better to do on my birthday than go to an away game with a hundred mates, get drunk, toasted and watch my football team win a trophy. To bad this will never happen for me, in Australia or England, cos my birthday is in June :(
Ozi Gooner
my birthdays june 26 and ive seen England lose on many occasions on that date.....useless feckwits
fran merida
Not surprising at all, luckily for me I've long given up on national team football... can not be bothered with it anymore, just not even close to the same thing as love for your club when you hate half your country.
Ozi Gooner
"This from someone who spent most of his youth in the nightspots of Croydon. *shudders*" Little Dutch - Croydon? Ouch! lol Pikey's an understatement. Happy Bday for Tuesday night, lets hope the team give you a welcome present.
(sky sport source) whinger having talks with REAL MADRID :D 123spurs - WRONG! Anyway, why aren't Madrid sniffing around your manager, old bacon face himself?

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