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Reactions To Draw With Arsenal

1. It’s hard to remember an encounter against Arsenal when I’ve cared less about the outcome in the run up to the game. Of course you always want to win but it felt strange not having any of the pre-match nerves this game has brought about in the past. Instead, we got to watch their players applaud ours on to the pitch. Over 20 points separate the clubs but, whilst United had nothing to play for, Arsenal are still aiming for that top four spot. And in the first half an hour that’s exactly what it looked like. Our players appeared to be hungover/drunk whilst Arsenal run us ragged. They only created one good chance in this time though, the one Theo Walcott scored, but replays showed it was offside and should have been ruled out. From that point on, United created more of the clean cut chances and on a normal day, would have been disappointed not to leave with the three points. Thankfully, it wasn’t a normal day, it was our first game as champions, so essentially it doesn’t really matter… unless you were bothered about that points total record thing.

2. The pre-match build up was all about Robin van Persie so it was fairly fitting that he played an integral part to the game. Sagna, whose decline has been quite shocking, passed the ball to our Dutchman before bringing him down in the box. All the pressure was on Robin but he coolly slotted him. Again, as was the case at Old Trafford, he refused to celebrate.

3. Phil Dowd had an awful game. At one point you could hear “you’re not fit to referee!” from the stands and it was hard to know whether it was coming from the home or the away fans, given how strange some of his decisions were. He went through a ten minute period when he booked every United player who made a challenge, with Rafael, Van Persie, Evans and Jones all going in to the book. He had lost control of the game and then responded by booking two Arsenal players in the next ten minutes. “I think the referee just couldn’t keep up,” said Ferguson after the game. “I thought the referee found it difficult to control and the game was running away from him. The first 20 minutes I think we were surprised at some of their aggression and tackles. We got caught on the back foot. The referee found it difficult to determine what was a good and a bad tackle. When we have a foul he’s booked us right away. We had five players booked. We have one of the best disciplinary records in the country. For Man United to have five players booked I don’t think that’s right. Lukas Podolski [committed] two yellow-card tackles while we were booked for our first tackle.”

4. It’s not often that I talk about players that didn’t play in a post-match write up, but Tom Cleverley’s absence was more obvious than ever. His last Premier League start was on February 10th and since then he has played just 22 minutes in the league, despite always being on the bench. It’s a strange situation. You would think that the Arsenal game would be an obvious one for him to play in, but Fergie opted not to give Michael Carrick rest and play Jones in midfield. With 20 minutes left to play the manager was ready to shift Jones back in to defence and bring on a midfielder. When he went with Anderson I was gobsmacked. Just what exactly has gone wrong with Cleverley?

5. Nani but on a decent show, as he tends to against Arsenal, but you have to wonder whether these are our final few games of seeing him in a United shirt. It’s such a shame because he does have bags of natural ability. He’s too inconsistent, which isn’t helped by the manager refusing to give him a decent run in the team and injuries, but he is a quality player. Still, if he can be used as part of a deal that brings in a top player, I can’t imagine there will be many people complaining.

6. Jones had two great opportunities to score with his head, as did Van Persie, amongst several other chances as the game went on, but a 1-1 draw is fine with me. It would have been a good enough result if we had needed something from the game so seeing as though we didn’t there can’t be too much disappointment. The away fans had a top day out and we got to rub their noses in our success. CHAMPIONS.

About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. King Eric says:

    Slim. Hello mate. Ha just read your post on Robben after posting mine. Hate that cunt. Rentboy.

  2. max says:

    Can I only think cleverleys disapperance recently is due to a bit of a fall out with Fergie. What u fellas think? Could be the case in my opinion…

  3. King Eric says:

    To be honest I don’t particularly care where Jones plays as he brings United summat different wherever he plays. Proper winning mentality. Love the lad. Always like to him start whatever position he plays.

  4. King Eric says:

    Max. Has to be summat like that yeah. Just not playing at all and in big games he’s been quality. Against Chelsea though he was fucked.

  5. samuel - united WE stand says:

    King eric – i guess it depends if united are willing to wait to see the lad develop his passing accuracy in order to be a regular, that might take a while. I think.his role to man mark the opposition’s best players is different to one of him being relied on as a distributor of the ball. His battling qualities, determination, drive and buccaneering runs are superb but we know that at the highest level, more is required. In my opinion, he needs a settled position. I know he’s adaptable to different roles but are united getting the very best of his potential by getting moved around? Not sure. Fergie knows than me or anyone but i’m just hoping to avoid abother john O’shea situation even though jones is more talented than the ulsterman.

  6. Sparkz says:

    Shit yeah, totally forgot about Robben turning us down! That was when Ranieri was in charge if I recall right?

  7. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Max – cleverley’s form has simply dropped off, has looked pretty wrecked as the season has intensified.

  8. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Sparkz – yeah, like michael ballack turned united down. Money played a huge part added with the fact they felt united was on a downward spiral.

  9. denton davey says:

    Samuel @ 22:38: “defenders have got tactically stronger in this league”

    I know it’s not fair but – did you watch Dunderland tonight ? not very much “stronger tactically” than a group of eleven-year olds. Poor John O’Shea – he must be wondering why ? why ? why ?

    King Eric @ 23:28: “To be honest I don’t particularly care where Jones plays as he brings United summat different wherever he plays. Proper winning mentality.”

    Spot on – maybe some of that “proper winning mentality” can rub off on TheWayneBoy who looks a bit jaded nowadays.

  10. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Denton – to be fair, sunderland have been appalling all season and i wouldn’t say the entire league is full of world class defenders as that would be unrealistic but we’ve seen majority of games in which valencia has been marked out. His limited style doesn’t help either.

  11. Wakey says:

    RE: Clev

    Remember he was in the GB team for the olympics and then played alot of minutes in the first half of the season as well as getting a fair bit of playing time for England (With England he has played 40 times this season). I suspect he is just being used sparingly as you can over use players early in their top level development which can be detrimental to their development (Wilshere for example)

    @Lee Martins Winner

    I personally don’t agree that Fabios loan hasn’t worked out, he has made 21 appearances with 19 of those in the league. This in a team where he has been asked to do alot of defending. Thats almost as many as he has made in his whole time at United. Additionally he would have made more but he has lost his place in the team twice due to injury.

  12. wayne says:

    Wakey Tom C played for Engand 40 times this season? The lad will be the quickest ever to reach 100 caps lol

  13. medumtum says:

    Well silly season well and truly here, reports now coming in of us looking to bring in bale with a winger going the other way. That would be one way to solve the lackluster performances out wide. On the other hand Levy would squeeze us for every pound possible. Personally still hoping Ronnie has an epiphany that United is where he belongs…

  14. Bobby Charlton's combover says:

    Clevs not starting or coming on wasn’t lost on me either. I think the last time I remember him playijng was at home to Madrid and I thought he was ok but the manager is either being very cautious with him or just doesn’t fancy him to run our midfield. Personally he’s never convinced me fully and I said that this season would tell a lot and I think it has. He hasn’t played in the league since February despite not being injured. If the coaching staff thought he was any good then surely he’s be starting every other game. It looks to me like himself and Ando could be on the way out.
    As for players coming in I’d love to see Fabregras arrive. He’s a great talent and knows what the PL is all about. He’s not happy at Barça as he’s only a bit part player and I think he’s wasted played behind the front two. Who wouldn’t love to see him link up with RvP?

  15. Gorse Hill Red says:

    Had to bring this up from a Liverpool page at the start of the season. The author even stated that United would struggle this season!! Scouse delusional at its best!

  16. 20LEgend says:

    @samuel – united WE stand

    The 4-2-3-1 is an interesting thing. For it to work however, it requires for Valencia NOT to be in the team as he is a touchline-hugging winger without any flexibility. It would work best with Kagawa – Rooney – Nani with v.Persie up front, all very mobile and fluid. However it would also require for Rooney to have a really good first touch which he seems to have lost recently.

    Concerning the Jones situation, i think Phil Jones with a better passing ability and composure (which will only come with time) is exactly what we need in midfield. He’s a natural leader of men and god knows we need that when Vida is not playing. Well wherever he plays, i hope he just plays, and in one single position.

  17. 20LEgend says:

    I may probably get slagged off for this, but in my opinion, the problem with the midfield this season is because of Wayne Rooney. Say what you might but the lad hasnt been up to scratch this season. Kinda looks down and disinterested as well for some reason.

    The “great” midfields across Europe are not 2-man midfields. Even the teams with a supposed 2-man midfield invariably have another person in a more forward role, helping out a lot in the midfield and providing loads of energy. Like Toni Kroos at Munich, Ozil at Madrid, The entire front 3 in Dortmund and Chelsea, Dempsey at Spurs, so on and so forth…Its not a coincidence that United played so well against City at etihad when Rooney had one of his better games of the season, nor is it a coincidence that we played so well against Madrid in both legs, one of them in which Rooney was on the wing and one of them in which he was conspicuously left out.

    The point is, the man is a great player and the most important player of the team, and he just hasnt been up to it. Hope he doesnt get sold and really shows his worth next season

  18. slayer says:

    @ Gorse Hill Red: Had to bring this up from a Liverpool page at the start of the season. The author even stated that United would struggle this season!! Scouse delusional at its best!

    Well, they are still a bit too ignorant. Although having Suarez ban for 10 matches and able to win with 6 goals against an underperforming Newcastle is indeed a good one, but the question is can they keep performing like that. Just because of a few matches does not mean anything if the win cannot last a long run. However, it does give hope to the team and may prove that it was not a one-man team. Whether or not this is just a stroke of luck, we’ll know through all their matches.

    @20LEgend: Rooney is an important player but just a heavy wages and his issues makes him a likely target for many fans. Sometimes, he just gave me an impression of he is overthinking and tried too hard to prove himself or making himself useful. Well, I don’t blame him for trying but perhaps he might be playing much better if he just do what he can and play with that raw energy he has while he was young- Taking risks and firing far range shot towards the goal like the old Wonder Boy.

  19. denton davey says:

    Sounds like TheWayneBoy is a key part of SAF’s forward planning:

    “We’ve been doing a bit of work on that over the last three or four months, targeting who the players are that we feel could enhance us, make us better or help us maintain the level we’re at,” the Scot said.

    “You have to look at the structure of the club at present, in terms of the number of first-team players we have at 23 or under. David de Gea, Rafael, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Alex Buttner, Nick Powell, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck. Shinji Kagawa and Chicharito [Javier Hernández] are 24. Jonny Evans is 25 and Wayne Rooney is hitting his peak at 27.”

  20. wayne says:

    He’d also say that to get top $ for WayneBoy so that statement means nothing,if any team came in with a 40+ bid Utd would get rid in a second

  21. william says:

    expecting anderson to feature the rest of the game not sure if he qualifies for a medal yet

  22. Toms says:

    “Still, if he can be used as part of a deal that brings in a top player, I can’t imagine there will be many people complaining.”

    Young and Valencia. Neither have half the talent or skill Nani has. Remember Valencia (the physical beast) displaced Nani from his favored spot on the right wing. I think we’re ratehr quick to forget foreigners here. Nani’s form in the past has been brilliant and he has been cursed with an inability to get back to pace. There’s no doubt in form he adds a lot more power and guile to wings than the over priced Young and over honored Valencia.

    Just ask who can provide a spark if the game is deadlocked? Valencia will cross your ball fine and Young might rediscover the form he had for his first 8 games but neither invent like Nani does. It’s foolish to pin all our hopes on a kid getting his feet from the championship. He’ll need atleast a season.

  23. King Eric says:

    Tony all day long for me. We all know Nani has talent but goes missing half the time. One good game in eight doesn’t cut it for me. Tony may be limited but you know what you’re getting. When on form anyway.

  24. A says:

    Buy Strootman and Lewandovski and well be unbeatable with the following team:

    De Gea
    Rafa Jones Vidic Evra
    Rooney Carrick Strootman
    RvP Lewandowski

    Sell Anderson and one of Nani/Young/Valencia

  25. A says:

    Convert Rooney to a box to box player, Strootman perfect partner to Carrick and will rekindle partnership of Kagawa an Lewandowski.

    Similar to AC Milan with Seedorf, Gattuso, Pirlo, Kaka, Shevchenko and Inzaghi


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