Interesting game, one that matches the pattern of the last few years between Manchester United and Arsenal. They play their passing game, press, have most of the possession. We play the defensive minded, counter-attacking game.
We win. They lose.
I really am surprised that Wenger hasn’t done something different whenever he plays United. We just tear them apart on the counter, take our chances when they come. Arsenal struggle to make the chances, usually limiting themselves to long shots and speculative efforts.
Of course, they did have chances. A lot of chances. The great performance of Van Der Sar was a major part in this game, stopping the Gunners from making any headway. Vidic and Smalling were amazing in the centre of the defence, Smalling especially.
United played defensively, hardly surprising for a team that contained seven defensive players in the starting 11. Then again, Fabio seemed to be playing as a striker and that worked out, he being the opportunist in place for the first goal. Both Hernandez and Rooney were linking up well, and their combined interplay made many great chances and Rooney’s goal. I am still concerned at a lack of bite within the team, of the chances that were not taken, though Almunia should be given a lot of credit.
And of course, it is very good to see Antonia Valencia back in the starting line-up, just as Nani has been injured. Hopefully he and Rooney can recapture some of that great partnership of last year.
United march on, with the TV talking heads beginning to whisper the word “treble”. Not something I like hearing in March. As for Arsenal, what a fortnight for them. League Cup losers, dropping two points at home, out of the Champions League, out of the FA Cup. Six years without silverware, racked with injuries. Arsenal’s big test is whether they can prevent the rest of their season collapsing.