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Manchester United 8 Arsenal 2

Manchester United 8 Arsenal 2

This must have been the first Arsenal game I`ve ever been to where every single member of our entourage predicted a convincing defeat. Nobody even chimed in with, "I`ve got a funny feeling we`ll get a result." I don`t ever remember travelling to Old Trafford with less anticipation and trepidation. Even the ever optimistic Lord Lowe said to me five minutes before kickoff. "If I were Arsene Wenger, I`d knock on Fergie`s door and say, 'Listen, no more than 3-0 today, no injuries and let`s call it quits.`" It would have been a good call in hindsight. All the talk for the journey north was in anticipation of a thrashing. I still don`t think we quite expected the humping we got.

The team sheet revealed a squad that has been neglected by the club in a quite appalling fashion. Arsenal F.C. really needs to reconnect with what its purpose is. When you see a squad of 18 players like the one we were forced to bring to the slaughter yesterday, it`s hard to believe the powers that be at the club have sufficient respect for what happens on the pitch. Francis Coquelin and Carl Jenkinson were lambs sent to slaughter; Armand Traore is stealing a living at Premiership level. The manager knows this; this is why Traore wasn`t even a substitute against Liverpool when Gibbs was injured. Yet our squad is still in such a pathetic state that he has to start against the Champions at Old Trafford. Eight players were out injured or suspended. Who could have foretold that Iron Man Kieran Gibbs would be injured? Or Abou 'Concrete` Diaby would be missing? Woe is our terrible fortune, when do Arsenal ever have an injury list the length of Joey Barton`s charge sheet?

So it was that young men who just aren`t ready and older heads that ought to know better were utterly pummelled in the final denouement for a summer that has been atrociously mismanaged by all concerned from beginning to end. When United opened the scoring, it was with embarrassing ease. Anderson looped a pass into the Arsenal area, Djourou bafflingly tried to shepherd the ball back to Szczesny. Welbeck easily shrugged him off and Koscielny showed a lack of willingness to put his head in where it hurts, leaving Welbeck to loop a header over the stranded Polish goalkeeper. We all knew it was to be a long afternoon. But a glimmer of light cracked through when Arshavin found Walcott careering into the area. Jonny Evans couldn`t cope with the pace and dragged Walcott back. Amazingly, Howard Webb gave a penalty. Against Manchester United. Truly an historic occasion.

Van Persie stepped up but, unusually, did so with all the conviction of a soggy wicket and placed a poor penalty to de Gea`s right which was easily saved. Despite the simplicity of the save, it was notable that the United players rushed to him as if he`d just aped Gordon Banks. That`s what good teams do. They sense a player low on confidence and try to pick him up. Arsenal don`t really do that. How can they? When a wide eyed, inexperienced young lad like Jenkinson for instance, looks up and sees other wide eyed, callow young lambs. Within three minutes, United`s ruthlessness doubled the ferocity of the blow. Evra found Rooney on the left hand side; his cross was met with the poorest of defensive headers from Armand Traore. The ball fell invitingly to Ashley Young on the edge of the box, which swerved a precise shot into the top corner. From here on, it was a pure damage limitation exercise in my opinion. It was an exercise that failed miserably.

The Gunners did briefly threaten a back line which wasn`t the most imposing I`ve seen them field against us. Arshavin`s strike from the edge of the box was turned away by de Gea, van Persie followed up, but de Gea was up smartly to block with his legs. But ultimately, it was scant window dressing for a complete collapse. Cleverley clipped a ball forward to Ashley Young; Carl Jenkinson was exposed and bundled Young to the floor on the edge of the area. The resulting free kick saw Rooney shit to Young. Nobody from the Arsenal wall charged. Rooney was given all the time he wanted to clip the shot into the top corner. A beleaguered away side did manage a scant consolation in first half injury time. Evra sliced a clearance in his penalty area. Ramsey headed the ball down to Rosicky. His pass found Walcott in the channel and his low finish beat de Gea. Once again, de Gea`s footing was poor from an angled shot.

Maybe the biggest indication that nobody thought a comeback was even remotely possible was reflected in the away support at the beginning of the second half. A 20 minute rendition of 'We Love You Arsenal` embarrassed a comparatively hushed home crowd. The reason it happened was because we knew we were beat and we knew it was going to get worse. It was an act of defiance, not confidence. I think everyone recognised that too. The second half was painful stuff. Nani found Ashley Young on the corner of the box and his low shot was beaten out by Szczesny. Arsenal did manage to create at 3-1. Rosicky`s lofted ball found van Persie in the area and his first time volley as well saved by de Gea. Ramsey`s curving pass then found Arshavin on the left. He motored past Smalling and made a bee line for goal, but his finish let him down when he screwed his shot into the side netting.

Tom Cleverley carved an increasingly powder puff defence apart when he played a smart one two with Hernandez, putting him clean through on goal, but he could only shoot straight at Szczesny. United`s movement just became too much for Arsenal. Nani, given free reign by Traore, played a pass into Hernandez. He flicked the ball around the corner for Rooney. Rooney fell softly under the slightest duress from Djourou. It was a foul, but I was sat diagonally in line with the offence and I can tell you for 100% certain that Webb did not see the infringement, unless he has eyes screwed into the back of his head. His back was 100% turned, so on what basis he gave Djourou a yellow card is, frankly, as beyond me as Arsenal`s current transfer policy. Still, Rooney once again shifted to Young and once again the Arsenal wall didn`t charge and once again the ball flew into the corner.

The seams were bursting before that. The seams were straining before kickoff. But the 4th goal precipitated a collapse the likes of which Arsenal fans have become accustomed to. Rooney found no challenger at the precipice of the Gunners box, comfortably picked a pass to Nani inside the area. Were Arsenal trying to play offside? If so, Jenkinson and Traore didn`t get the memo. Nani was well onside and dinked a smart finish over Szczesny. An abject performance was starting to become arthritic when Park found Young in the Gunners area, Young was, you guessed it, unchallenged. Pulled the ball back to Ji Sung Park who, yes, went unchallenged to slot a finish low into the corner. "I`m Arsenal till I die" came the chant from the East Stand, Lower. That`s a song I`ve always associated with teams that are despairingly average.

Executive relief arrived in the form of another consolation. Ramsey played another impressive arcing pass to Jenkinson down the right. His original delivery was headed away by Phil Jones. Jenkinson followed up to head the ball back to the back post, where van Persie rifled home his tenth goal in eleven away matches. But a more unwanted landmark arrived in the shape of Arsenal`s third red card in their opening three games. That`s a record no other club can boast. Rooney`s searching pass once again found Jenkinson exposed, he bundled Hernandez to the ground and earned a second yellow card. The ultimate symbol of a young man hung out to dry by his manager. Jenkinson was playing non league football under a year ago.

Further calamity was afoot. Park found Evra inside the area; Walcott gave him a shove in the back (when really a kick in the knackers would`ve been more to my liking). Webb correctly pointed to the spot and Rooney did not err to collect his hat trick. I have to say; at this point I`m thoroughly bored of describing United goals. I don`t have enough vocabulary anymore, save to say Giggs set up Young to seal the rout. It was a game which really should have delivered the starkest of messages to the manager, the board and everyone at the club that this summer has been an absolute shambles of dithering and withering. They have less than three days now to correct three months of total inaction. I`ve heard some say the travelling support should be refunded. It`s a sweet thought but not one I`m behind. I watched Arsenal win the league in that ground when I was 18. I didn`t expect a surcharge after the game based on the event. You pay for a football match, everything else is chance. What is clear, is that the club cannot take anymore in the next 72 hours. The players we put out yesterday were nowhere near the quality of United`s, but I wouldn`t expect a Championship side to ship 8 at Old Trafford. The club is utterly demoralised, the players, the manager, the supporters. Time to get out of a rut and into a groove. LD.

13.SZCZESNY, 25.JENKINSON, 20.DJOUROU, 6.KOSCIELNY, 30.TRAORE, 39.COQUELIN (15.Chamberlain `62), 16.RAMSEY, 7.ROSICKY, 14.WALCOTT (46.Lansbury `82), 23.ARSHAVIN, 10.v.PERSIE(c) (29.Chamakh `82). Unused: 21.Fabianski, 49.Miquel, 52.Ozakyup, 54.Sunu.

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

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

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Monday August 29 2011
Time: 12:51PM


Dare I say the match yesterday might turn out to be a good thing? It might be the catalyst that's needed to force Wenger into spending
29/08/2011 13:13:00
"Time to get out of a rut and into a groove" thats a classy finish to the article LD. The pic on the article says it all really, we are down in the dumps currently - a mixture of incompetence in squad planning, transfers, player revolt (Cesc, Nasri), injury and suspensions. Shocking and saddening display yesterday from a team who forgot the basics of the pressing game we showed good glimpses of last season. We gave too much space, time and chance for United to batter us with. Even basic desire in closing down their offensive players - a matter of work rate would have narrowed the extent of the loss. Was it that the team was tired physically or tired mentally, I have no clue but whats beyond doubt now is that the club needs a boost. In the time that we have before the game against Swansea we have so much work to do. Get 3-4 quality players in, get some tough training drills in pressing the ball, fitness and basic football discipline and prepare for the long road ahead this season.
29/08/2011 13:17:00
A sad day for English football. The day it became evident to EVERYBODY how much money has ruined football. Dont get me wrong i enjoyed seeing David Silva play yesterday almost as much as watching you get literally ravished at OT. But in hindsight this was a bad thing. The Premiership will become like La Liga. Not even Liverpool can compete at the top now. Chelsea have the russian but their squad is ageing. Everybody else is screwed. At least you have the stadium, we dont even have that! And at least Cesc & Nasri wanted to play for you unlike Modric who's little bitching every day is making me feel ill.
29/08/2011 13:17:00
PL Teams who operate within their financial means can be likened to an athlete who has to run an Olympic level sprint using no steroids or external stimulus. These clubs can only make up the numbers against the heavily financially doped clubs who will inevitably rise to the top. Just like there are routine dope checks in all sports, football clubs must have similar type of checks to ensure a level financial playing field. That said, as a gooner I strongly believe that our club has not used its carefully constructed financial stability and strength to its advantage on the pitch. We dont need any external investment, the resources are there, only the right players need to be found and an acceptable price agreed.
29/08/2011 13:29:00
Arsene has let me down. Big time! If it's time to go, then so be it. This is humiliating and demoralising. Is he saying that he doesn't look at all the players in the PL and think they have quality? Why can't he bid from other PL teams too? I'm sure he can come up with an 11 that is worth something even if it's back to the 1 nil to the Arsenal days! Just defend and **** the beautiful football! Who would want to play for us now? Why not buy a left back rather than play Sagna in that position? Gibbs will forever be injured and that's the reality of things. No midfield and they can't defend to save a life! I a horrified, and just to save his reputation, changes have to be made. End of the road for u Arsene!
e dubbz
29/08/2011 14:06:00
What a sad state of affairs our club has come to. I cant believe how devoid of top quality we are as a squad. To leave rebuilding to the last couple of days in the window is criminally irresponsible by both board and manager. Everyone can see we are in a mess, the ironic thing is that we are now going to end up overpaying for average players than overpaying for top quality just to get ourselves a half reasonable squad and having to work night and day to get these players in. It was obvious Nasri & Cesc were going to leave. Cesc has been leaving for 2 years!!!! The only people who seems to believe this was not going to happen was Wenger and key board members. Why have we not been preparing replacements months in advance. this is not taking into account the players the management want to get rid of anyway. IQ levels at the club must have dropped rapidly over the last couple of years to let matters get into this state of ill-preparation for as competitive season.
29/08/2011 14:26:00
can't believe it that it is still hurting me... ouch... this feels like a funeral, football-wise..
29/08/2011 14:41:00
At Vital Spurs we have had 1.650 posts on 2 articles (1,000 limit on posts) about the Man City game. We were well beaten, due to Harry's selection of players and injuries... Harry has said Modric's bitching about not wanting to play 2 hours BEFORE the game, has put fans against him now... So I can sympthise with you gooners, as to losing top players and injuries and heavy defeats... Now for both clubs the need for new players, and Manager wake up call is evident.
Block D Spurs
29/08/2011 14:51:00
"They have less than three days now to correct three months of total inaction." Don't be surprised if Wenger buys that Korean player only because we have many world class players coming back from their permanent injuries.
29/08/2011 14:55:00
Wenger says we only buy players who are better than the current players we have. Is the task that hard? In my mind, I have so many players whom I don't think are good enough to play for a top club challenging for the league title.
29/08/2011 14:57:00
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