I am always wary of a lot of things when it comes to Arsenal, some of which are:
– Games after International Week
– Away games after Champions League
– Games in November
– Games against Jose Mourinho
And three of those four were present against Man United this weekend. With Bellerin out and Iwobi struggling for form, the way the manager was going to start the game was always going to be a matter of interest. Knowing Wenger, I felt the decision with right back position was always going to be Jenkinson. If Wenger didn’t trust his abilities, he would have signed someone else long ago when he began to doubt Debuchy could contribute to the team. The Iwobi decision despite his drop in form was strange especially given the manager’s comments on Arsenal Player about Iwobi and big games in the run into this game
‘In big games he has no fear and he wants the ball. He’s always available. Our game is constructed around availability, around who wants the ball and he’s one of those players who always wants the ball.’
I expected Giroud to start with Sanchez drifting off wide, a position he has fared in previous seasons at the club, however, it seems Sanchez is now a constant feature for Arsenal in the No. 9 position until his hammy finally give in. Giroud is one of the most maligned Arsenal players but I think overall we underestimate what he brings to our play. For instance, almost every kick from Cech up top in the first half fell to a United player and rightly so given the height of our players up front. Little things like these matter with keeping the ball and quickly turning possession to something that could work for us.
You would struggle to find a more tepid first half and nothing practically happened until the 35th minute when Valencia dived in an attempt to win a penalty. Thankfully, the Referee was wiser than Jose Mourinho who went bonkers on the touchline claiming a pen. Cech had to make saves from Juan Mata and Martial immediately after. From an Arsenal perspective we were disjointed, and I think I can’t capture it any better than @MoAmali did here
Sacrificing the whole structure and set up of a team just to accommodate some who seemingly ‘must’ play is just counter productive.
— Mohammed Amali (@MoAmali) November 19, 2016
When Chris Coleman said Ramsey could get into any side in the world, I wondered if he was saying that to boost a players morale so he could deliver or if he really believed those words. His first half performance was in direct contrast to his manager’s belief. The question is if Giroud is slowly being eased in, shouldn’t the same apply to Ramsey? He walked into the team at the start of the season even though he went nearly as far as Ozil and Kosceinly and the effect was his long layoff. He has just returned as it seems he is walking straight back into the team again? Currently, Ramsey looks like a triangular peg in a square shaped box.
The second half looked was just a continuation of the first with Arsenal struggling to get away from their box. Watching the game and all I could think of was how is it so hard for Arsenal players to motivate themselves for games against United. This attitude is in complete contrast to how motivated fans are when we travel to Manchester. When the teams were walking out of the pitch, the loudest singing came from our away fans singing, “We are by far the greatest team…..”. The players could hardly muster one minute of possession, and it was just a matter of time before the goal went in around the 68th minute.
There are a lot of things we can criticise Wenger for and one of them certainly is that his reluctance to proactively influence the game. The amount of pressure we were on was clear for all to see and at points like that when everything is static, you look to your manager for freshness and energy. From where I sat, his refusal to make any changes when clearly the team needed freshness baffled me.
Like Sol Campbell expertly stated in his analysis, it was not strange then that immediately ball players came into the pitch (Ox and Xhaka) we looked better and got our goal through Giroud. Any regular reader of my posts knows I am a big fan of the French man and I am really glad he showed why we all should show more appreciation of what he brings to our team.
In the end, its points shared and given the way the game panned out, we will take the point on a day we really wanted three. Overall, I think it was a fair result, however, on a personal note for Wenger, he is still yet to register a win over one of his most bitter rivals. I wonder how well he would sleep tonight knowing he has yet lost another opportunity to end this drought.
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