Theatre of Dreams A Theatre of Nightmares For All Associated With Arsenal.
The 8-2 humiliating of Arsenal and Old Trafford will sit with Arsenal fans for a long time coming, even if they sign players and have any success this season, United fans will be forever reminding them of the mauling they received.
It was clear that Arsenal need reinforcements as their squad does not have the depth that it once had, nor does it has a squad that can rival Chelsea, United or City, and when you looked at the team sheet and the bench for the game, you cant see one player that could match the players United have.
Man Utd: De Gea; Evra, Evans, Jones, Smalling; Cleverley, Anderson; Nani, Rooney, Young; Welbeck
Subs: Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Fabio, Giggs, Ji-Sung Park, Berbatov, Hernandez
Arsenal: Szczesny; Djourou, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Traore; Ramsey, Coquelin, Rosicky; Walcott, Arshavin, RvP
Subs: Fabianski, Miquel, Lansbury, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozyakup, Chamakh, Sunu
Back in 2001 United beat Arsenal 6-1
Man Utd: Barthez; Gary Neville, Silvestre, Brown, Stam; Beckham, Butt, Keane (Chadwick 75), Scholes; Yorke (Sheringham 75), Solskjaer.
Goals: Yorke (hat-trick), Keane, Solskjaer, Sheringham.
Arsenal: Seaman; Luzhny, Cole (Ljungberg 45), Grimandi, Stepanovs; Pires, Vieira, Parlour (Vivas 69), Sylvinho; Wiltord, Henry.
Many people will talk about the age at Arsenal and attribute that to the heavy loss, but the truth of the matter is that United had young players in their team also, but mixed with experience the team has the ability to bring in the young players with out hanging all their hopes on them. If they were having trouble United had the chance to bring on some real experience with the likes of Giggs and Park on the bench, but Arsenal only had Chamakh as the player with any real experience out field with the rest being reserve players and players that were in the u-18 squad last season. So comparing the two teams, looking at their ages and what they did in the game, lets see how much truth there is in this “Arsenal are a young team” theory.
Szczesny 21 – De Gea 20
Now one of these goalkeepers was extremely busy and the other wasn’t. De Gea has had a shaky start to his united career, and honestly even though he made a few good saves he messed up with the opening goal when really he should have been able to have save Walcott’s shot with his feet. Szczesny on the other hand made many saves but most of the goals that were conceded were goals that De Gea wouldn’t have been able to save either, and honestly, not many goalkeepers in the world would have managed to save them either. Szczesny has not had the same rise to fame as De Gea, but while on loan season before last good things were being said about him, where as De Gea was hot property after a great season with Atlético Madrid. Szczesny on the other hand did have a good season last season, so much so that nobody is saying that Arsenal need to buy a goalkeeper like they were when Almunia or Fabianski was in goal. Yes Szczesny conceded 8, but there aren’t many out there that would say it was his fault and could have done better, where as De Gea, some people are still not sure.
Traore 21 – Evra 30
Both Teams had young players on the pitch but the difference was that United’s young defence looked capable whereas Arsenals looked vulnerable, not getting back fast enough when they were attacking. United had the experience of Evra in their side, and he caused problems on the attack, but was showing his strength in defence and that was not there for Arsenal with Traore always on the attack, but not doing enough to get back, and when he did not being able to capably defend.
Jenkinson 19 – Smalling 21
Jenkinson who has a lot less experience did a lot better in comparison to Traore, even though he got sent off for two yellow cards the latter he was forced into a foul with Djourou’s poor positioning. Jenkinson was great going forward, but maybe went forward too much which contributed in Arsenal losing their shape and making Walcott have to come back and defend. And when Theo made it clear to Jenkinson that he wasn’t happy, and that he needed to keep the line, Jenkinson didn’t take well to the chastising and tempers started to flare and words were exchanged, and that let to the opening goal. In contract Smalling playing at Right Back so far this season is excelling in a position no one really has seen him play in before, but he linked well with Nani, just as Jenkinson did with Walcott, but held his runs, got back quicker and defended better than Jenkinson… But with Jenkinson being so inexperienced it is hard to say he didn’t do well, as this was a huge ask for him and I feel that under all the circumstances he actually gave a good account of himself. By no means am I saying he did better than any of the United defence as they played very well together, and up against Smalling, Smalling would get the nod for me in this game.
Djourou 24 – Jones 19
Personally for me, Djourou had a terrible game. His positioning was off, he could have done a lot better in Welbeck goal where he seems to be trying to shield the ball for Szczesny to catch, when Szczesny was no where close, and then fell to the floor almost looking like he thought that would get a free kick and stop play, that is defending you would expect from an inexperienced forward and a defender that has played for his country 26 times and has been called up to the Swiss national teams for their up coming game against Bulgaria in the Euro 2012 qualifiers on 6th September. Phil Jones hasn’t had a senior cap yet and has only had 35 games for Blackburn in the Premiership compared to Djourou’s 82 Premiership appearances, on paper The Swiss is a more experienced defender, but from watching the game that was clearly not the case. Jones was strong defensively, but brought the ball out for United from defence into midfield on more than one occasion and looked more than competent doing it. So the argument of age backfires here, and also when both Arsenal and United had the chance to talk to Jones, Jones chose United as he wanted to win, and he made the right choice there.
Koscielny 25 – Evans 23
Losing 8-2 it would be hard to praise a player on the losing team, but watching the game, I didn’t feel that Koscielny did a terrible job, he had to unfortunately spend most of his time mopping up the mistakes that Traore, Jenkinson and especially Djourou had made, and that is something Evans didn’t have to worry about, he could just focus on his job at hand, and he did that well. Evans the younger of the two has actually had more experience at International level having 27 caps for Northern Ireland, and has 83 Premier League appearances, and 11 ion loan at Belgian side Royal Antwerp, where as Koscielny has 32 appearances for Arsenal 35 for French club Lorient and 108 for lower league French clubs Tours and Guingamp. Koscielny has fitted into the Arsenal team well, but is no as strong a defender as Vermaelen, and is more adapt as sweeping up the loose balls and moving play forward which can work well against teams that are more technical, but not against more physical or aerial teams, but in this instance where the defender that is supposed to be dealing with the attackers is Djourou, Koscielny was in the deep end having to clean up a lot of mess.
Ramsey 20 – Cleverley 22
Ramsey was the most active Arsenal midfielder, and was the one always looking to pass the ball, or move it forward, but the majority of players around him just looked stagnant and in the end Ramsey would be closed down and ultimately lose possession. Cleverley had the opposite as when he received the ball, Nani, Young, Anderson and Rooney where all buzzing around trying to get behind the defenders, and making runs into open space to receive the ball and keep the move alive. Cleverley has another good game, and with many United fans saying that they still need to buy a quality midfielder I disagree, as he can grow into that role and is showing his ability, Ramsey missed Wilshere in midfield on Sunday and missed Nasri and Fabregas, Rosicky, who made a few decisive passes to cause goal scoring opportunities, didn’t get into space and looked uninterested, and that didn’t help Ramsey’s game by any means.
Coquelin 20 – Anderson 23
Coquelin made his first Premiership start and it was against the defending Champions. Now Frimpong has been mooted for sometime as a future Arsenal first teamer, and many have hoped that Coquelin will be able to be one also. He spent last season on loan at Lorient in a make weight deal for Koscielny, and he made 24 appearances for the French club. When I saw his name on the team sheet, I worried for Arsenal’s defence as I didn’t believe he had the ability to deal with the United midfield, but watching him play I have to say I was very impressed. He showed good strength and was one of the only Arsenal players that was breaking up United’s, play or was seeing danger and was looking to avert it. He did that when a pass back to Welbeck in space could have let to a goal, but Coquelin saw the danger ran in and put in a good challenge to stop Welbeck from being able to shoot and I was baffled when he was substituted off for Oxlade –Chamberlin. The last thing Arsenal needed was an attacking player that has never played in the premiership before, and especially for a player that was breaking up play. Anderson in comparison has had 75 games for United, but this season has to be by far his best so far. Okay that might only be a few games into the season but he has fat exceed his performances last season. Anderson held his position well in midfield on Sunday and at 23 having 75 games under his belt he has the experience needed in these games.
Rosicky 30 – Rooney 25
Now comparing these two is funny. One have five years more experience, but in the last few seasons one has been constantly at the doctors where the other has had a hair transplant and other than that hasn’t really needed the doctors help. When Rosicky signed for Arsenal there where high expectations as he had been doing well at Dortmund and was a real threat on the international stage, but after injuries, it seems that Rosicky has given up and his attitude to playing football doesn’t seem to be the same. He played a few great passes to cause goal scoring chances, but other than he did nothing, he didn’t close down players or attempt to win the ball. Rooney on the other than was still chasing back and that was when the game was dead and he had already bagged a hat-trick. Rooney was simply unplayable on Sunday and I feel sorry for Szczesny as one free kick was unsavebale, the penalty was well taken and the 2nd free kick maybe could have been saved, but overall he never really stood much chance against Rooney. Rooney had a great back, providing great crosses for Welbeck and his replacement Hernandez and linked brilliantly with the rest of the team. As good and as involved as Rooney was the opposite could be said for Rosicky,
Arshavin 30 – Nani 24
After a good to his Arsenal career, it was just gone down hill ever since. I remember watching him score four goals against Liverpool, but now I cant imagine him scoring one against Shrewsbury, okay that may be an over exaggeration, but I definitely didn’t see any evidence that he was going to cause United any problems. It seems that he should go back to Meerkovo and help explain that they don’t sell car insurance as “Meer Kat” Arshavin is seen just looking around the pitch trying to avoid the coming danger. Nani on the other hand was always looking to cause trouble, and wasteful sometimes, but the chip shot paid off when he scored against Szczesny. The first time it ended on top of the net when reality he could have passed it to Rooney, which Rooney made quite clear to Nani that he wasn’t happy with his selfishness. For his goal though Nani was in aches of space and had all the time to do what ever he wanted to do, and again it was Djourou that was to blame, but in reality the whole Arsenal team seemed to be watching Rooney to see what he was going to do.
Walcott 22 – Young 26
Walcott had an okay game, but couldn’t focus just attacking as he had to run back and help out Jenkinson for most of the game and then was at right back for some time covering for Jenkinson when he was sent off. Walcott did cause problems for the united defence, but didn’t get the service the likes of Rooney, Welbeck/Hernandez, Young or Nani got so with what he got he had an okay game but compared to Young, who scored two amazing goals, two goals that no keeper would have saved, you have to say that he out played Walcott by some distance and if I were Capello he would be starting with Rooney for me over Walcott by some distance. In all honesty, Downing playing so well and I probably wouldn’t have him in the squad as I prefer Adam Johnson, though he may find it hard to get a game at City with all the activity coming in, he may need to move on to get a fair crack at the England squad and he is a player I believe can be an England regular. Young did well at Villa, and when he moved to United I always believed he would excel and he is. Young is a few years older than Walcott and has more league appearances, but are almost level on International caps.
RvP 28 – Welbeck 20
Robin van Persie didn’t have the best of games, and missing that penalty surely didn’t help boost his confidence. Being made captain has given extra reasonability, and with that extra stress no doubt, but is that something you want to put on you star player, on your main goal scorer. I never thought it worked with Henry or Fabregas, both their individual performances, for me, dropped and if the same happens with RvP then Arsenal could be in trouble. Vermaelen I believe would be a better captain and he is vice-captain. Vermaelen I Believe would be able to deal with the running of the team on the pitch, vocally and with his performances and that would free up RvP to worry about playing football and scoring goals, and on Sunday though he did that, it looked more difficult for him than in the past. Again he didn’t really get the service he has done in the past or that the United forward received, but when presented with the chance to score Welbeck took it. Welbeck has had a great start to the season and I was disappointed to see him go off injured as I would have loved to see him step up into the England squad and see if he could continue his form and partnership with Young and Rooney. Welbeck was bright and lively and always looked for space to get the ball to score.
Overall United’s blend of Experience and Youth prevailed, and Arsenal have paid the cost for not having replacements in place quicker for the sale of Nasri, Fabregas and Clichy. United have spend a lot of money, but have spent well and have got their transfer business out of the way well before the end of the transfer window, and with the team having time to train together and the fact that Young and Jones have fitted in so well and so quickly to the team the game was always going to be United’s but to win 8-2 was a surprise to everyone, and for some players not a fair representation of their performance during the game.
United Out-Played, Out-Passed, Out-Styled, Out-Arsenaled Arsenal on Sunday, and with Many people calling for Wenger’s head, all are calling for transfers so with the news that Mertersacker is coming in, as well as Andre Santos, the Brazilian Left-Back and the South Korean Captain Ju-Young Park and still looking for a midfielder, maybe this beating is what Arsenal needed, like the Phoenix from the flames, Arsenal can be reborn and rise like the Arsenal of old!