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A Gooners Report: Man Utd 2-1 Arsenal: Simply Not Good Enough

Arsenal writer Jacob Windon dissects another abject performance from the Gunners – who find themselves in crisis after slumping to a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford

Arsenal slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime. Here is a report by our resident Arsenal fan Jacob Windon.

Van Persie Man Utd

I’ve been sitting at my laptop for about an hour now, staring blankly at the screen, down at the keyboard, looking over at my match notes, looking back up to the screen, and all the while I have this thought going round in my head.

What is the point? I mean seriously, what is the point in writing a review about this game?

I actually find myself lost when trying to find the words to describe Arsenal’s display on Saturday lunchtime. I struggled to stay awake during the first half. I contemplated going to bed during half time. In retrospect, I wish I had. The truth is that whilst we lost 8-2 in the corresponding fixture last year, yesterdays defeat felt incomprehensibly more dissatisfying, ten thousand times more depressing. It was incredibly demoralizing and dispiriting stuff.

Arsenal simply did not show up. We did not look like competing. We were abject, completely ruined for ideas, absolutely hopeless going forward, and sure enough, we still make these inexplicable defensive mistakes that in this instance, ultimately ended the game with 87 minutes still to play. I will try to make this review relatively short, because quite frankly, talking about Arsenal at the moment is extraordinarily painful, and the less said about yesterdays game, the better.

When Thomas Vermaelen was made captain after Robin van Persie’s inevitable exit, I found myself feeling slightly skeptical. I realise Thomas Vermaelen sporadically exhibits qualities that we associate with leaders – fist pumping, heart pumping, ridiculous forays forward, the occasional goal followed by more fist pumping and heart pumping. He has shown during his time at Arsenal that he can be considered a genuinely world class defender. This season is a completely different story. Maybe he misinterpreted receiving the honour of captaining Arsenal Football Club as a cue for him to start thinking about his future elsewhere, because I tell you what from the opening game of the season, this man has been on a different planet. For someone who is captain of his team, Vermaelen performances have been absolutely unacceptable. His defending this season has been nothing short of abysmal. There hasn’t even been a foray into the opposition penalty box ending in a goal and more fist pumping, to cherish, only glaring individual errors and shocking defensive performances. Against Manchester United he was poor again, especially for the first goal, literally giving Robin van Persie the ball so he could fire home. I realise mistakes happen but Vermaelen has made no effort to make up for these stupid errors, and I firmly believe he should be dropped immediately.

Arsenal find themselves in a captaincy crisis. Arsene Wenger has made a monumental mistake giving Vermaelen the captains armband and now finds himself in a tricky situation, where he feels he has to play Vermaelen. I highly doubt that Vermaelen, despite his horrible start to the season will be stripped of the captaincy or relegated to the bench. This in itself reflects the lack of discipline shown by Arsene, although having said that he did strip Gallas of the captaincy in 2008. And promptly gave it to Cesc Fabregas, who moved to Barcelona, who passed it on to van Persie, who moved to Manchester United. Arsene, I realise that I’m probably the last person you’ll ever want to take advice from, but how about giving the captaincy to Squillaci? Or Chamakh? Because your choice of captain hasn’t really worked out. Do we even have players in our squad that can be considered captain material? Mikel Arteta is the obvious choice at vice captain and I was disappointed that he missed out on the armband during the summer. Then there’s Jack Wilshere, who at some stage will inevitably receive the dubious honour of Arsenal captain (providing City don’t come in with a cheeky bid). There is a real lack of leadership on the pitch at the moment, and this is a massive cause for concern.

Let’s move onto the other things Arsenal currently lack. A left back – Andre Santos was predictably roasted by Rafael and Valencia, and whilst I feel his lack of defensive quality is often exaggerated, he was pretty bad against United. He made the occasional good tackle, but like Vermaelen himself, Santos is very much a chance defender – someone who will gamble and jump into challenges. In my preview to the game I talked about how vital it was that Podolski worked his socks off. It was nice to see he read the article and paid attention. The return of Kieran Gibbs cannot come quick enough – Gibbs and Podolski struck up an impressive partnership down the left prior to Gibbs’ injury, and we can see now how important that partnership was in both an attacking and defensive sense. Gibbs allows Podolski to get forward much more than Santos, and Podolski has gone missing in the last five games because he has an incredible amount of defensive work to get through. This is a feat that cannot continue because quite simply, Podolski is not a defensive player.

I don’t like giving non-Arsenal players credit but Wayne Rooney must get a mention for his superb man-marking job on Mikel Arteta. The game highlighted how influential Arteta is to making our midfield tick, and we missed his metronomic passing due to Rooney’s hassling. It was also nice to see Rooney miss a penalty against us – quite a rare thing indeed.

There isn’t much else to be said about the game. Wilshere’s red card was an accident waiting to happen and I have no idea why he wasn’t removed earlier. Aaron Ramsey is not a right winger. I understand why Arsene Wenger continues to play him there, to keep possession away from home against the big teams like he did against Manchester City. But it’s quite obvious that Walcott would have been more effective starting in Ramsey’s position. I mean, we could have passed it to Theo… and he might have ran at Evra… passed back to Sagna… Oh look, we’ve lost the ball again. Once again we had a fair amount of possession but did absolutely nothing with it – a reoccurring theme.

There is a massive gulf in class between Arsenal and Manchester United perfectly illustrated by yesterday’s performance. I am so disheartened by our team’s recent limp displays, and have no great hopes for the rest of the season. Why bother getting your hopes up with this lot? Call me reactionary, call me a pessimist, but at the end of the season when this abject negativity is justified, call me ‘right’. The fact that Andre Santos ran the length of the pitch to catch van Persie and grab his shirt typifies the attitude our players seem to have, the majority of them anyway. How can you swap shirts with a player at half time, and then go out in the second half to play against that same player? It just reeks of being unprofessional and was an insult to the Arsenal fans who traveled to Old Trafford on the day.

The Arsenal fans also deserve a mention. They were once again superb, demonstrating why we have the best away fans in the country. If only half the team shared the same passion for the club.

Unfortunately, the last word has to be on Robin van Persie. If your like me, and right about everything, you would have been extremely annoyed with his actions yesterday, in not celebrating the goal he scored. The fact he didn’t celebrate is another half arsed attempt to show the fans that he still has respect for the club. I’m sorry Robin, but after everything you said, it was crystal clear that you didn’t have any respect for the club. To try and show you still care by not celebrating is insulting to the Arsenal fans, and it completely justifies why we don’t like you very much anymore.

So no positives to take from the United game. I’m sorry for what was a depressing article, but there’s nothing good to say about Arsenal Football Club at the moment.

Right then. I’ll be back for a preview of the very important Champions League tie against Schalke on Tuesday. Until then.

In the unlikely event that you enjoy reading me babble on and on about Arsenal and football and stuff, leave a comment below, I will reply back to you. Feel free to disagree with me on anything – that’s fine, however it would be most appreciated if you could refrain from using any abusive language.

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  1. Goona

    November 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Walcott left out at the beginning, tut! tut! as a result no pace! no nothing! but the usual defeat and it will continue like this year in and year out winning nowt mark my words until something is done about it.
    A few years ago I would have wept if Wenger left the club now i’d cry for joy if he did just that very thing.

    I know there’ll be loads of Gooners who won’t agree with me and these are the one’s who are prepared to keep winning now’t year in year out. The reason we play the game is to try and win things otherwise what’s the good?

    Yes one could blame the board for the lack of spending and losing our top players and if they are the culprits then why hasn;t Wanger thrown his weight and demanded changes in policy …That should be the main aim of any strong manager who ain’t won now’t for 7 years and no doubt heading towards the 8 and for a magnifcent club like Arsenal with a great history that’s disgraceful!!!!!…

    • Bazza

      November 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      I am with you on Wenger, You have spoken for me I don’t need to say anything else.

    • Jacob Windon

      November 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

      You are 100% right my friend

  2. Sem

    November 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    To make things even worse, At the AGM Kroenke got asked if he was gonna take money away from the club , he didnt respond to it

    • Jacob Windon

      November 5, 2012 at 8:03 am

      He simply has to go for the club to have any kind of future on the field

  3. Pingback: A Gooners Report: Man Utd 2-1 Arsenal: Simply Not Good Enough – Football-Talk | Manchester United News and Bets

  4. Matthew C

    November 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    The performance was awful, yes, but I don’t think all the doom and gloom is quite justified. The team is weakened by injury, and so, short on depth, and the players out there are suffering for the lack of rotation. The sluggishness of our side has been the story of every match since Chelsea. It’s dispiriting, but tired legs can only do so much, despite how “pumped up” one is for a match.

    Walcott didn’t start because he played 120 minutes on Tuesday, his first match back from a pretty decent injury. Arteta now especially looks like he could use a match off–I don’t think Rooney could’ve handled him, otherwise. And yes, Santos has been awful; obviously, we need Gibbs back ASAP, but what has been with Santos’ display? He has been nothing short of awful since Gibbs has been out but was actually pretty competent last season, all things considered. I don’t understand why he has been so bad.

    As for Vermaelen’s display yesterday… Obviously there can be no question that he let the team down. Not sure that his defending has been poor otherwise, though: we still have given up the lowest number of goals this season. That doesn’t come from having a piss-poor center back as your captain.

    • WC

      November 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Every team suffers injury, maybe Arsenal suffers more than most – I can’t say but Wenger keeps terribly under average players in the squad so when we need them they come on and play like garbage. How you can be so mediocre at your job and get paid more than most other people in your field is beyond me. Ramsey hasn’t shown any indication that he’s going to get better and Santos has never been a good player – We bought him from the Turkish league, that says it all.

    • Jacob Windon

      November 5, 2012 at 8:06 am

      I don’t buy that the team could be tired after a mere 10 games into the season. If thats the case then we may as well forfeit every game during the Christmas period because that’s when teams really feel it

      The team we put it out is probably our strongest bar Gibbs, and we had an experienced bench, there can be no possible excuses

      Vermaelan has been shocking all season and if it wasn’t for Mertesacker we’d have conceded triple the amount of goals we’ve already conceded

  5. jacob

    November 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    i don’t lyk criticizing people bt when there is need i dnt compromize. No right thinking board or manager would love 2 see their darling club playing football with out winning any trophy for 8 should be a big concern especialy to the manager if he realy loves the club. If there is much profit in it dan inflicting pains to the fans why are other teams not doing same.if they are tired of d club den sell it.

  6. WillyG

    November 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Injury? Really?
    What sport do you think this is? Snooker?

  7. amando

    November 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I completely agree with d author on all points. Also, I wish to mention dt at d moment, y dnt we try walcot @ d central attackin position? Cos quite frankly, Giroud hv not done enuf to impress me. He dosnt create spaces, dosnt make runs and displays laziness in front of attack. A typical Arsenal striker shuld make runs and pull away from his marker so as to receive d ball. Also, we all seem to be shy of shooting @ goal. Dt explains our low shot on goal stats. Arteta and carzola are tryin in this aspect but I would like d other players to start doin that too. Giroud shuld try most times he gets d ball to turn and take a shot @ d keeper. Dt is one thing dt made Drogba very dangerous in his prime as he culd jst turn and surprise d keeper with a shot. Pepe Reina will attest to dat so, pls, our players need to start playin objectively with their focus more on gettin d goal than playin a lot of passes and beautiful football. I love my gunners and I wish dem well!!

    • Jacob Windon

      November 5, 2012 at 8:10 am

      You make an extremely good point – Giroud and Walcott up front is an idea that genuinely excites me. However, I have to disagree slightly – Giroud did not do anything against United but in my opinion his movement has been superb, it’s his finishing that has let him down so far. He is also so reliant on his left foot – never seen him shoot with his right. Maybe that’s just me

  8. Jack

    November 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    My friend i think u’v said exactly wot i a man utd fan and i would say this artical entails the full truth concerning the state of arsenal club at the moment.its so sad and i realy feel for arsenal funs.they are hurt and somethin has to be done quickly to convince the dissapointing from my point of view as a man u fan.i like ua articals and this one was no difference as am touched and only showed simpathy anyway.

    • ALI

      November 4, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      This by far is a griping article enlightening Arsenal Football Club. The truth does hurt, thus as an arsenal fan i must say arsene wenger is tactically rigid and can never or will never change it for the benefit of the team but arrange it to his BENEFIT. Arsenal fans should be more vigilant and understand that AFC are proned towards money therefore should cut their own costs by refusing to attend matches. This surely should wake the board up becoz it limits the revenue from coming in. WE SHOULD TAKE A STAND. And based on our current climate i suggest arsene wenger shud just part away for all of our benefit and so rightly PIers Morgan suggests HE SHOULD BE SACKED OR ALLOWED TO LEAVE.

    • Jacob Windon

      November 5, 2012 at 8:11 am

      Piers in?

  9. Weneedperspective

    November 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Yes the game was poor but what van persie did was quite alright, not celebrating. He wanted his 50 million quid and got it with a team that’s no 1 currently. Fact is there’s money out there and arsenal doesn’t have it.
    What’s really annoying is the lack of fluidity. With Cesc we seemed like a team that was going to be hard to contain but that’s missing now. We need Diaby Gibbs wilshere cazorla and arteta to compete with top teams. Ramsey Santos are not quite first team material. Arshavin can really make a difference in the final third as long as we don’t expect him to defend. His time on the pitch is characterized by perfectly weighted balls assists and potential assists. He has struck up a good partnership with Giroud which is priceless right now. I really don’t see the value in sending aerial balls to giroud for him to knock down for others. Starting arshavin instead of Ramsey will be interesting.

    • Jacob Windon

      November 5, 2012 at 8:15 am

      It’s not so much about the money side, it’s everything he said to the fans last season, then changed his mind and stuck two fingers up at Arsene Wenger, the fans and the club, and continues to behave like an idiot. You can’t promise everything, deliver nothing, then pretend there’s nothing wrong.

  10. Jacosta

    November 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    Arsenal needs top quality players to replace those we have lost. To replace RVP we need another world class striker, but they are costly. Every team has strikers, but our contenders for a title have the best in the world. If we want to be there we need one of those. I have recently been thinking that Giroud needs to have his eyes tested: He sometimes misses the ball completely and is not gifted controlling it.

    The main problem at present is the lack of enthusiasm of the team in general. I have the hunch that the leaving of Song and RVP left a hole in the moral of the team that is not being worked on to overcome. I think the team and fans feel impotent with the spending policy, and if we lose next Sagna and Walcott, I can’t see what quality players can be found with a few pence to replace them.

    If we could at least try and get Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, instead of allowing them to go soon to Chelsea and MUN. But they would cost a bit of money… They are the type of quality players that could take us to the top, other wise, maybe Europe League, if we can manage to get there…?

    • Jacob Windon

      November 5, 2012 at 8:18 am

      Your bang on with Giroud. He is extremely one footed

  11. Archimedes

    November 5, 2012 at 7:34 am

    The social wage structure has created a team without quality and depth because the overpaid journeymen stays while the best players leave in disgust. Arsenal`s wage bill is the 3rd highest and the tickets are the most expensive in the league. Fans are not getting their money worth.

  12. Ajit

    November 6, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Well am an United fan but feel sad for the Arsenal !!Guess its high time to change Arsene Wenger!!results do count sometimes and is not always about the philosophy!!!Good luck guys…hope u all do well against Schalke!!!cheers

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