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Manchester United 2 Arsenal 1

Having begun 2009-10 with some comfortable victories, Arsenal`s first big test of the season was to arrive at Old Trafford. The signs were ominous as the journey was fraught with difficulty (those of you that have ever used London Underground will need no further elaboration), whilst heavy traffic was the signature of the whole journey until we arrived in Manchester at around 4.15pm. Our difficulties were not over there, as the electronic turnstiles refused to accept our legitimately purchased tickets. So with twenty or so minutes until kick off, myself and Lord Lowe were left to join a long, snaking Box Office queue to rectify the situation. The pithy response from a particularly unhelpful United Box Office employee was that there had been an electronic fault with the turnstiles and that the problem had now been solved. We later learned that his explanation had been as credible as a Mike Dean yellow card as our tickets still did not work upon our return and none of the United stewards seemed to have heard anything about this so called fault. Seeing our tickets were genuine, one steward took pity and let us in. But the furore was not over there. As the teams emerged from the tunnel, two gentlemen made their way to our seats with absolutely identical tickets-bought quite legitimately from the Arsenal Box Office. For some reason our tickets had been duplicated and we missed the opening minutes of the game as United`s Chief Steward worked quickly to find a solution. Credit to the United stewards here for letting myself and Lord Lowe shoehorn ourselves into a couple of empty seats to watch the game as they sorted the issue down in the concourse and a solution was found quickly and efficiently. United`s stewards have not always been the friendliest but on this occasion they were incredibly helpful and we were grateful for the swift resolution.

Anyways, it was on to the match and the full blooded nature of this contest that seemed to have diluted in recent years was back with a vengeance. Typically, though both teams were robust in the challenge, Mike Dean was in full concession to the hosts. I lost count of the accumulative fouls between Fletcher, Carrick and Valencia that were not punished. Song was booked for Arsenal`s first foul of the match and Sagna was booked for claiming a throw in. It was an excellent, entertaining, full blooded, pendulous encounter between two excellent teams with two excellent sets of players. The only person that looked out of place in the arena was the fussy, over officious, egotistical referee who officiated the match exactly as the home fans asked him to. In a frenetic opening, United nearly drew first blood when Gallas` miskick allowed Nani to probe into the Arsenal penalty area, only for Bacary Sagna to deny him with an excellent last ditch challenge. The Gunners then created their first chance of the match on the counter attack, as Arshavin played the ball into van Persie; he twisted past Vidic only to see Evra brilliantly deflect his shot over. From the resulting corner Foster- United`s great weak link- could only flap a corner into the path of the onrushing Arshavin, whose sliced shot rose inches wide of the top corner. United roared forwards in response with Evra beating two Arsenal players before Gallas cynically took him down on the edge of the area. Rooney curled the free kick just wide. From our angle in the South East corner, the ball had looked destined for the top corner.

But Arsenal were beginning to get a stranglehold on the game- with Mike Dean filling in admirably for Rio Ferdinand with some excellent defending for United. Firstly, when van Persie was clipped on the right hand edge of the penalty area by Evra, Dean performed brilliantly to plead myopia. Minutes later, van Persie went up for an aerial challenge with Vidic, the ball broke loose on the edge of United`s area but as the Dutchman tried to run for it, Vidic hauled him down to the ground. Dean was again on hand with Wengeresque levels of selective vision. Of course, van Persie then got frustrated and was silly to run to the other end of the pitch and execute a hard tackle on Giggs. We can`t have the player of the year being challenged like that and Dean was once again on hand with the yellow card, administering justice with admirable bias. Dean was in no mood for compromising subtlety, he was being flagrant again when Sagna`s cross found Arshavin on the back post, the Russian jinked inside Fletcher and was mowed to the ground with the ball a stationary and innocent bystander. No penalty apparently. The cost of Eduardo`s belly flop on Wednesday and the resulting media furore being made clear. However, Fletcher`s idiotic tackle simply served to prompt Arshavin into life. You wouldn`t like him when he`s angry. Denilson played the ball into him thirty five yards from goal, a measure of his quality was instantly apparent when the United defence backed off with fear etched across their features and Arshavin sent a thirty yard exocet into the top corner with minimal back lift. "He`s five foot four, he`s five foot fooooour, we`ve got Arshavin, fuck Adebayor" came the cry from the visiting throng. Meanwhile Dean saw fit to lecture Arshavin about his celebration. Putting one`s finger to one`s lips before running to your manager is somehow a lecturable offence? Maybe Dean was upset that Arshavin had upset his betting coupon? United pressed in the last minutes of the half for an equaliser, a goalmouth scramble ensuing after Diaby had cleared Vidic`s header off the line, but Arsenal survived until half time a goal to the good.

We had been here before of course, playing well and leading against our closer rivals. However, the question abounded would we have the psychological resources to hold out? Something we`ve singularly failed to do over the last three years. We would have our answer within nineteen minutes of the restart. Arsenal began the second half with zip and purpose and should have buried the game. Firstly, when Arshavin burst past the terminally slow Vidic and sent in a low cross from the by-line, van Persie prodded towards goal from close range, but Foster reacted excellently to flick the ball out with his left boot. Arsenal were in down the left again sixty seconds later; Clichy`s cross found Eboue unmarked at the back post but he lacked composure and completely bottled the opportunity. His inability to be emollient at a crucial time was a portent of things to come. With United not really threatening, Giggs played an excellent curved ball into the United area, Rooney chased at a tight angle from goal with Gallas for company, yet Almunia still felt the need to rush out at Rooney`s feet and take him down. Clear penalty, no doubt about it. Did Rooney look for it? Probably, he invited contact and Almunia was stupid enough to acquiesce- there is no rule saying a striker has to move out of the way when a goalkeeper has a rush of blood to the head. Rooney stepped up and steered the penalty home for the equaliser. However, Arsenal were perhaps unfortunate not to reassert their lead swiftly. When Evra swiped out at Diaby on the corner of the penalty area, van Persie sent a dipping free kick into the area which Foster badly misjudged, allowing it to sail over his head and off the crossbar.

However, having already shot ourselves in the foot, the Gunners would this time cock the pistol and place it firmly to the temple. Denilson`s foul on Fletcher over on United`s right hand side yielded a free kick. Giggs swung the ball into the area and inexplicably, under no pressure whatsoever, Diaby decided to turn and head the ball into his own net. He did not seem to attempt to elevate the ball over the bar and why he did not head the ball upwards and outwards I`m not sure I will ever know. The Theatre of Dreams had taken on a Vaudevillian air as the stridulous chimes of United fans cheering pierced our ears again. It was a shame because Diaby had actually had a very decent game and looked more likely to create anything than van Persie, whilst Arshavin spent about 80 minutes of the match walking with his hands on his hips. It is telling that United put most of their attacks through Valencia on our left, so aware were they of Arshavin`s unwillingness to track back. It is perhaps telling that in possibly the only time in the game when Arshavin did try to sprint to latch into a van Persie pass, he pulled his hamstring. He`s clearly a stunningly gifted player who can wander in and out of games and pull rabbits out of hats as he did yesterday- despite looking disinterested he can spring into life. However, this is pretty much how Adebayor spent his last season at Arsenal, registering on the score sheet before proceeding to stand around with his hands on his hips for 89 minutes. But Diaby`s own goal was symptomatic of the fact that when the pressure is on, Arsenal go all Kurt Cobain on our arses and self destruct spectacularly. We have been told persistently that the players will learn from the last three seasons of failure in big games, but as I pointed out in the summer, the players only have experience of defeat in big matches which can`t be helpful.

Diaby did attempt to make amends, picking his way through to the edge of the area, exchanging passes with van Persie, before firing wide in front of goal. The chance had come too soon after his own goal and his head was still all over the place. Had the opportunity arrived five minutes later when he had calmed down, I think he might have buried it. Arsenal had Eboue deservedly booked for diving, before Bendtner and Eduardo were introduced. Eduardo was roundly booed by the same supporters that spent six years singing 'Viva Ronaldo.` Work that one out. The two substitutes nearly dovetailed beautifully when Bendtner sent a wicked cross into the area which Eduardo just failed to connect with. You`ve the feeling that if Bendtner had been in the box himself, he might well have buried that. United looked to threaten on the break away, with Berbatov and Nani comically slicing good chances wide. Arsenal then had a goal disallowed when Ramsey (for some reason introduced for Arshavin instead of Wilshere- Ramsey is an excellent prospect but I fancy Wilshere is more likely to get you a goal?) crossed for a clearly offside Gallas, the ball broke for van Persie who lashed it home but the flag had been erect for sometime. In his frustration, Wenger kicked a water bottle. The Fourth Official decided there was some kind of new rule meaning violent conduct against inanimate objects is now a sending off. The bottle was not kicked at anyone and did not endanger the crowd or any player. However, Dean, keen to be star of the show, sent him to the stands. A referee`s number one responsibility on a football pitch is to ensure the safety of all participants. Dean sent the Arsenal manager into a throng of Manchester United fans. That sums up everything you need to know about this unctuous excuse for an official. As for the game, we can take heart from the fact that we played very well for long periods and without Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott and Rosicky, we were still able to create problems for the Champions. However, our lack of composure when pressurised in these games comes to the fore again as our experience of persistently losing in these situations aids our opponents. Wenger spoke after the match about his players lacking maturity and calmness in these situations, but Almunia is 32 and Diaby is 24, these are not young boys anymore. The up side is that at this stage of the season, the defeat will not have terminal consequences, United lost to us last year and at the beginning of the 2006-07 season and were not unduly affected. However, the feeling is that it`s just another case of history repeating.LD.

TEAM: 1.ALMUNIA, 3.SAGNA, 10.GALLAS, 5.VERMAELEN, 22.CLICHY, 17.SONG, 15.DENILSON (9.Eduardo '71), 2.DIABY, 27.EBOUE (52.Bendtner '66), 23.ARSHAVIN (16.Ramsey '79), 11.v.PERSIE(c). Unused; 18.Silvestre, 19.Wilshere, 24.Mannone, 28.Gibbs.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday August 30 2009

Time: 12:13PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Great report LD, did u see lawrenson on MOTD saying he thought Dean had a good game! tw*t
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30/08/2009 12:43:00

When did Wenger change his name to Peter File? that what we were chanting at him yesterday!!!
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30/08/2009 13:18:00

I also went to this game but sitting amongst Man Utd fans having gotten a ticket through a Man U supporting friend. The report totally sums up my thoughts and feelings having been there. I'm disappointed but not devastated about the defeat and unless they gel or sign someone exceptional I'd be more concerned as a United fan - they are good and always hard to beat but don't look special. Arshavin can come across as playing almost arrogantly at times - I feel he can offer even more than he does. But we gifted this game to United because we were in control largely. I thought Denilson and Gallas were excellent. Also thought Eduardo should have been brought on sooner because he's been looking really sharp. If we'd had Cesc, we wouldn't have lost this game I think.
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30/08/2009 13:32:00

Yeah, he also made no fuss over it. Compare to Ferguson who called in the heavies when a couple of blokes called him "Taggart" from behind the dugout at the Grove.
Little Dutch
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30/08/2009 13:32:00

Excellent write up, agree with you about Arshavin, his lack of tracking back put Clichy under a lot of pressure. Luckily for us Valencia didn't have a great game. Arshavin doesn't seem to be fully on song yet, he did disappear for long periods in the match. Gutted about the result, but the performance was pretty good especially considering we were missing Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott, and Rosicky. Dean's decision to send Wenger off was absolutely disgraceful. Like you Vin, I'm also in Manchester and the United fans I know are more worried about their prospects this season.
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30/08/2009 14:11:00

As a United "fan" sweetleftfoot, you should probably know what it's like when football chanting goes too far. If I were as small and petty a human being as you, I could type out any number of songs which United fans would find disgusting- and rightly so. Fortunately, I'm a better human being than you'll ever be. That's not much of a compliment for myself but there you go.
Little Dutch
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30/08/2009 14:22:00

its only chanting,its like the scousers and L666ds fans getting upset when we give them it,calling the bin dippers Murderers and sing Galatasary to that lot from bEllEnd Rd.If you cant take it,dont give it.We had Munich for years,water off a ducks back mate!
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30/08/2009 14:27:00

But when did I "give it" you absolute cretin? You just came on here with your bile as usual. Say you had to watch your father get routinely called a paedophile by 70,000 people, would you take that as "just chanting"? I'm all for banter surrey boy, but that's too far and if you don't know it, then frankly you've got no place in a civilised society. It's a shame, scientists estimate that our population is three times too large for our eco system to handle. When it's apparent our population is taken up by people like you, you begin to wonder.
Little Dutch
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30/08/2009 14:32:00

And do you think the Edwards family consider it water off a duck's back? Do you think Bobby Charlton thinks, "ahhh eck, they're onlyhaving a giggle" when he hears those songs? You dick.
Little Dutch
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30/08/2009 14:33:00

Good write-up though I would have credited Almunia with more stupidity than you did! As for Diabys idiotic head, I think he started rising to head the ball upfield, noticed he was unchallenged and then thought, I know I'll be clever and send it back to the keeper! We shaded the game, which without Cesc starting is an improvement over last year. I dont think this is history repeating itself (ie we didnt collapse into a bag of nerves) but instead gifted the game through things you just cant account for - 2 mistakes (Diaby/Almunia) and a pathetic ref. The telling thing will be how we are after this defeat - if we collapse again, then yes its deja vu, but I suspect that we will come back strong and beat City... we are not the same as last year by a stretch.
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30/08/2009 14:38:00

and its people like you who have no place at Football,been going for all of 3 seasons have you now?trying to look down your snotty nose's at people,no doubt you will be following City soon.F**king southern tw*t.
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30/08/2009 14:39:00

That's more like it surrey boy. Wouldn't be hard to look down my nose at you now, I just have to inspect my fingernail after I;ve had a good dig around in the nostril. Now ***** off back to Vital Devon. I think I can speak for everybody when I say your "contribution" isn't wanted here.
Little Dutch
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30/08/2009 14:45:00

Sh*t Left Foot you got 3 points you miserable barrel-scraping idiot, but still behave like you lost... maybe its becuase you know the writing is on the wall and you wont win the league this year.
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30/08/2009 14:52:00

Yeah well done sweatyleftfool leave football to scummy apes singing about child molesting and murder. You're an embarrassment to everything about the game. If you met any of your clubs greats and espoused the ****e you're gibbering here they'd look at you like the piece of trodden in excrement that you are. Now **** off back to Kent you plastic, glory hunting, no mark inbred.
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30/08/2009 14:52:00

We all know the type of people that find the topic of paedophilia funny and they generally end up on a sex offenders list. Hope they catch you soon SLF.
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30/08/2009 15:00:00

When you register to post on this site you tick a box agreeing that you won't post anything libellous or offensive. That still gives plenty of scope for good natured banter but no licence at all for retards to post any offensive crap their stunted minds come up with. If you're not up to making worthwhile contributions then don't bother. Simple enough really.
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30/08/2009 15:17:00

Good write up LD. I think we just have to accept that this was one of those games that weren't going to go our way. We can take heart from the performance and ManU can feel relieved that they were gifted 3 points they scarcely deserved on their performance. We can't take much comfort from that but overall I thought it was a mature performance from us. I am not sure that in the same circumstances many other goalkeepers would have made a different decision to Almunia and even if they had it might not necessarily have proven to be the right one. A lack of concentration from Diaby cost us at least one point but I don't really think we can claim the loss was down to a collective lack of maturity or experience. The heartening thing about the few games we have had so far as they we look a significantly more experienced side.
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30/08/2009 15:26:00

Like I said yesterday, the truly upsetting thing is that we were so clearly the better team, even without Cesc
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30/08/2009 15:44:00

actually we should be humbled that there are people like sweet left foot on our beloved site, it shows how good we are to have people to be jealous over us.
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30/08/2009 16:35:00

Are we hated cos we're pretty good again? Nice piece LD.
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30/08/2009 16:52:00

There was a bit of bad luck involved - a shot off the crossbar, a legit denied penalty, an own goal. ManU were poor, to many misplaced passes, too many misfiring players - just how bad were Valencia and Brown?!! Overall, there were more positives for Arsenal than ManU. In one way, this result could be good for us - shaking off the over optimism at a good start to the season.
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30/08/2009 22:19:00

"Mike Dean filling in admirably for Rio Ferdinand with some excellent defending for United." Couldn't have said it better my self! Nice one.
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31/08/2009 04:13:00

I agree with the ref calling a penalty on Rooney; although Rooney cheated, he did it so well that Dean can't be blamed, especially when contact did occur. But let's hope that refs take notice of granny****er's cheating ways, especially when he seems to pull out his best dives against us. Btw Eboue should take diving tips from Rooney; his dive was so blatant it was just embarassing. I felt bad for Diaby, he looked great apart from that one terrible mistake, but I guess that's the story of his career thus far.
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31/08/2009 04:28:00

I felt disgusted and ripped off after this game. While to an extent we did bring it on ourselves, it is so unfair that when any team plays at Old ******** Trafford they should experience biased ref's. Every time! I've heard so many times different managers say after the game "but that's what you get at Old Trafford and you just have to deal" Why should we have to deal with it? I was watching that game with a ManC and he was in no denial about the unfair treatment we were receiving. It's absolute ********* and if UEFA want to ban Eduardo for 2 games for something Ronaldo did every second week for ManU then there is seriously something fkn wrong. *****ED OFF!
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31/08/2009 05:29:00

Hello everyone. As far as Mike Dean is concerned, he made 2 big mistakes, but i dont think they changed anything with arsenal's result. Penalty on arshavin? Definately. Not given though, but thankfully, justice was served with a great strike and a goal, right after it. So basically arsenal scored either way. Ridiculous sending off of Wenger? Definately. But it was on the 95th minute so nothing changed, especially since it wont count either from what i read today. Penalty on Rooney? Definately. righ decision. offside on arsenal's second goal? Definately offside. Too many hard fouls? I dont think so. I think arsenal play too soft actually. There are MUCH MUCH "harder-fouling" teams in the premier league than us, so I think you are taking it a bit overboard with the whole " they were killing us outhere" attitude. Arsenal hasnt been a physically "tough" team ever since Pat, Keon, Adams & Co left. You wanna see tough then check out the likes of Chelsea and Ballack's behaviour on the pitch. I'm a fair man guys, and i think yesterdays match really deserved a draw (dont forget our chances with fletcher,berba and nani as well, so be fair) but van persie was down on every contact complaining. Reminds me of someone we used to have hehe. Eboue's yellow was spot on as well. So really, come on... was Mike Dean that bad? He is no howard webb, i know, but he really didnt affect the game in any way. He blew on every contact we made with arsenal players and you got a foul. I say its too soft, you say its too hard and we deserved cards. Lets meet at the middle of it.
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31/08/2009 14:38:00

Honest question since I am not from England.( I live in the US) Where is the proof that Dean hasn't been bought by ManYoo? I mean some of his decisions were so blatantly biased!! And its not as if it hasn't happened before. Juve, Milan etc. I personally feel that some sort of legal inquiry needs to be done on these matters.
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01/09/2009 06:51:00

Sajit, back in 1995 the owner of Wolverhampton famously said about United: "they have the best players...and the best referees." It has always been thus in England.
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01/09/2009 13:56:00

alexpant, Rooney's dive was not a penalty. He was already on his way down before Almunia *****tishly swiped his arms at him. But I don't blame Dean for giving that penalty, although it does feel like that every time we go to Old Trafford the ref just waits for the perfect opportunity to give Man Utd a penalty. Also, Arsenal got six yellow cards to Man Utd's 3, now you gotta admit that there's something wrong with that. Sagna got a card for disagreeing with a throw in decision (and he was right to as well) for god's sake.
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01/09/2009 18:18:00

Very Good Write-up. I can't believe that we didn't get the 3pts, In the 1st half we played they off the park. Diaby'sown goal was a real kick in the teeth, so to speak! As for the sent to the stands for Wenger, that was totally over the Top. But as usual, Wenger showed his Class, that situation could have turned nasty, and it put Our Beloved Manager at Risk!
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01/09/2009 19:21:00

Last three MUtd-Arsenal meetings at Old Trafford: Man Utd 48 fouls - 5 yellow cards Arsenal 44 fouls - 17 yellow cards Paranoid, me paranoid?
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01/09/2009 19:31:00

jaelle, that brings up another interesting point. All the "supposedly best" refrees in the FA - Riley, Bennett, Webb, Dean all have shown favoritism towards United and these guys invariably get the big game matches also..
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02/09/2009 00:25:00


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