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Reactions to victory over Arsenal

1. It’s been ages since a game against Arsenal really meant something. Whilst there’s nothing like the hatred between the two clubs that there used to be, their fans have been fairly unbearable so far this season. It’s as if they don’t remember all the other strong starts they’ve had over recent years before crumbling away. At the beginning of the 2007-2008 season they had picked up more points over ten games than they had this season ahead of Sunday, before going on to finish 3rd, but their fans haven’t let that stand in the way of their ridiculous arrogance. Their toughest games this season had been Liverpool and Spurs, both at the Emirates, with them yet to face Chelsea, City or United (although did lose to Chelsea in the League Cup at home). They’ve had an incredibly easy start to the season and Old Trafford was their first test. “We are going to Old Trafford to have fun – and that is why we are going to win,” Mesut Ozil said before the game, perfectly summing up Arsenal’s attitude prior to kick-off.

2. We were ten minutes in to the game before Arsenal were able to string a few passes together. United dominated the possession in their opponent’s half which, if we’re honest, was a bit of a surprise. Arsenal are a passing team and in our toughest games, against Chelsea and City, we were very cautious. We were going for it from the first whistle though and deserved to go 1-0 up.

3. Ahead of the game, Wenger referred to Van Persie as an “Arsenal man”. It was fairly fitting that Van Persie scored the only and match deciding goal. Wayne Rooney crossed in to Van Persie but Vermaelen got in the way of it to concede a corner. Rooney then swung the corner in and Van Persie was first to the ball. It wasn’t just the power and accuracy of his glancing header that was impressive, but the way he lifted it over the head of Gibbs on the goal-line. Those looking for something to talk about, wanting to create a fuss out of nothing, suggested Van Persie shouldn’t have celebrated. Ridiculous. He gave them a year’s grace, refusing to celebrate when he scored home and away against them last season, but after three games of being called a rapist and a cunt, Van Persie put Wenger straight. He isn’t an Arsenal man, he’s a United man, and celebrated like any proper red would.

4. Whilst Van Persie grabbed all the headlines, it’s the hard work of Rooney that impressed me the most. After watching him charge down the pitch, chasing down a lost cause just with the hope of slowing down an Arsenal counter, I turned to my mate and acknowledged that whilst I still didn’t like Rooney, I really like that he is playing like this for us. He has been our most committed player on the pitch this season, funnily enough, and gives 100% every game. He wasn’t technically the best out there, but in terms of desire and work ethic, he was streets ahead of anyone in Arsenal’s line-up. Whatever’s gone on behind the scenes and whoever deserves credit for it, it’s great to see Rooney looking hungry for it again.

5. Whilst Rooney was the best player, Phil Jones wasn’t too far off. He’s a big reason for Ozil looking like such a dick at the final whistle, having claimed they would win, only to be totally anonymous all game. Jonesy had him in his back pocket all game and justified Moyes’ decision to start him in midfield. He got a rush of blood and carried away on the attack a few times, but he was solid all afternoon. He was moved in to the centre of defence for the second half, replacing Nemanja Vidic who had a nasty clash just before half-time, and was just as impressive. Is Jones a midfielder though? He wants to play in defence and the prospect of him and Evans over the next few years is an appealing one. But then Chris Smalling, who had a better game at right-back than he had been doing, is also lined up for one of those central spots. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. We really are spoilt with quality defenders though.

6. Arsenal came back in to the game during the second half, as you would expect, but they didn’t trouble David de Gea. The only shots he had to deal with were a couple that came straight at him. For all their possession, particularly in the final 20 minutes, they didn’t test the keeper. We had two great chances of our own though, with Rooney dragging his left-footed shot just wide of the post and Smalling somehow managing to miss a sitter, when surely all he had to do was let the ball hit his body and bundle it over the line.

7. The atmosphere at Old Trafford, particularly during Arsenal’s period of dominance towards the end of the game, was fantastic. There seems to have been a general improvement this season anyway, as though the fans are finally realising we should probably try and play a part in our team’s success. Maybe everything was taken for granted under Sir Alex Ferguson and now we’ve got a new manager the fans realise we have to work a bit harder, I don’t know. The chants got louder and louder, with the ground just desperate for the game to finish, and this wasn’t missed by those on the pitch. “The fans were incredible, they really lifted us and were the twelfth man,” Van Persie said after the game. “I think that’s the best atmosphere I have heard at Old Trafford in a long time,” said Evans. “Right from the start, the fans were very loud and it was a really enjoyable game to play in.” 

8. A few weeks ago I talked about how David Moyes was gradually learning and adapting. Sunday’s result was testament to just how far Moyes has come in short time. There wasn’t the cautious approach that we saw in our games against Chelsea, City and Liverpool. We went for it right from the start, but weren’t naive when we were on the attack. We made sure there was always enough players to cope with what could be devastating Arsenal counter attacks and we restricted one of the most creative sides in Europe to achieving next to nothing in front of goal. Phil Jones has revealed that before the game Moyes was meticulous with his planning, giving each individual instructions for the game, and it paid off. Not sure what I thought about the subs, and he would have been slaughtered for leaving us with no options if Arsenal got a late equaliser, but it worked so we mustn’t grumble.

9. All in all, a hugely satisfying performance and result. We weren’t at our best in the second half but we were still good enough. We’re certainly heading in the right direction though and building up some momentum. September was a shit month for us but since then we’re picking up the right results. Nobody thought it was going to be easy this season, but there’s no doubt that the rival fans (and our own fans) who were writing us off a few weeks ago are now more hesitant in their criticism. But this all counts for nothing if we don’t continue to pick up three points in the games we’re expected to win. Onwards and upwards.

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. parthi says:

    Third visit of the blog today and happy to see what I was expecting!!

  2. United till I die says:

    Great all round performance from every player. Moyes got then tactics and team selection spot on and deserves credit for that. Having a mobile player like jones siting along side carrick made such a difference in the middle of the pitch.

  3. onlydale says:

    Love it.
    Back pocket jokes/analogy getting a bit tiresome for me… it is said after every game by fans of every winning team.

  4. parthi says:

    spot on comments.. Another point worth noting is Shinji’s contribution in defence more than ever seen I guess.. Smalling might do a Wes Brown as in during the double season if he continues getting chances at RB.. Fabulous result. International break at wrong time.Hope there are no injuries..

  5. drv3011 says:

    Hehe speaking of wes brown,him and john o’shea did one helluva job against bitters didnt they? good to see bitters in eighth instead of us. Anyone read about this yet?: Jones knows whats up.

  6. Jesper Olsen says:

    Gutsy, committed, world class football(esp 1st 45) and showed all the world why we are champions!!! Pundits say we’re not feared anymore…. I hope they were watching Sunday…

  7. drv3011 says:

    There’s a thread up on Jones’s comments.Top lad.SAF spotted a real gem in him.

  8. Toms says:

    I think you’ve joined the crowd of buying a bit too much into Wayne Rooney’s “endeavor”.

    He had more than a few rotten touches and questionable choices in what was overall a very good performance by him. He ran his ass off- like many others- in a full team press and to his credit looked hungry the full 90 minutes. That said some of the qualities of a 10 were missing at times- perhaps you wonder if those qualities could have been realised in a central midfield role.

    Phil Jones I though despite being the smaller PR name the most important player on the pitch. He was extremely effective in what his role required. Consistently delivered key tackles when needed. IMO easily my MoTM.

    Kagawa as well deserves a shout. Not for a particularly glamorous game but for his best game on the wing in the premiership. Why? Well no coincidence we finally play a high pressing game much like he was used to as the 10 for an excellent BvB side.

  9. parjo says:

    it wasn’t our best performance and it makes me happy…

  10. Nesh says:

    Good reactions Scott…Where I leave we will literally have to move city if the gooners win the league and I refuse to move!
    I beg to differ with Many I luv Shinji but i think he really had a poor game on Sunday( my views though)…

  11. Nesh says:

    sorry “live”

  12. SirAlex'sSon says:

    Kagawa-Evra wing was I think set up to shut Arsenal out, but capable of initiating attack…when Young plays there, he maybe shuts the wing but offers nothing threatening in attack. Credit to Kagawa for his defensive contribution and good partnership with Evra. Onward and Upwards!

  13. King Eric says:

    Well what do you know? Been saying for months Jones should be in midfield. Composure and passing will come. HUGE result. Chuffed for Moyes. Where’s the likes of Truth now? Fucking prick. Arsenal still fags. Didn’t like the physicality. Men v boys first half. Shove that up your arse Merson you cokehead cunt with your ” easiest predictor of the weekend 3-1 Arsenal”.

    I actually felt sick seeing the press comparing our legendary class of 92 to this current arsenal mob. Only cunt to come through is sick note Jack. Fucking insult. They’ve done fuck all.

    Great atmosphere. Well done lads. Proper team effort.

    Now where is MichelDub??

  14. parryheid says:

    Great win against the league leaders by United,but

  15. Tommy says:

    Fantastic win and performance every member of the team was atleast a 7/10 minimum! Top comments scott, Jonesy was my MOTM, best midfielder 1st half, best defender 2nd half! Proper footballer phil!! Not Rooneys biggest fan but I must admit he ran himself into the ground, RVPs celebration was quality, personally I would of did an Adebayor! Now we have to kick on after the break, I read an article last night which said we could be top going into the new year if we can get atleast 7 points from our next 3 games (Cardiff away, Spurs away and Everton home Then we have some easy games on paper until new year!

  16. John says:

    I think this was a MUST win game and yes we did it!!..Now, going into international break, moyesy should with calm head analyse how we can build on this!!..Lets be honest, we have played city(away), liverpool(away), chelsea (home), Arsenal(home) and now OUT OF BLUE we are ONLY 5 points behind where we should be!!..I am eager to see, how we do in next 3 away games coz it will show whether the victory against Gooners was just everton way(beating and draw big team at home when least expected) or our way (Manchester United mettle)..for now, moyesy deserves a break!!..

  17. Sparkz says:

    Agreed, Jones would have been my MOTM. Either him or RVP, who I thought was very good with his hold up play at times. Rooney DID work his bollocks off but his passing and touch was properly off in that second half (although last season when his performance was poor he didn’t even seem to work hard so improvement there).

    Agree with King Eric as well – some of the rubbish Merson was coming out with was comical.

    We need to keep building up momentum, keep getting those wins, and keep improving those performances (still a bit concerned with how often we dip in the second half of matches). As Scott said – onwards and upwards.

  18. wayne says:

    Dreaded read your comment to Kushagra on the RVP goal thread fucking quality mate

  19. DreadedRed says:

    Cheers wayne! Their soft underbelly is such an inviting target.

  20. The One says:

    Where are all the Moyes naysayers, dumb asses the lot of them, THE TRUTH in particular!!

    Rooney’s playing really at the minute and credit must go to David Moyes for this though his long-term future is still very much in the air. I was one of the people who wanted him out but as long as he plays to this level, I’ll just close one eye and tolerate him.

    I just hope the international break doesn’t disrupt our momentum.

  21. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Make no mistake, Moyes got his tactics right, Attacking fast play from the off, Jones as DM along with Carrick, spent large fractions of the first half at their end, didn’t allow them a sniff.

    Then Vidic injury, BUT Moyes kept his head, and brought on Cleverley. Very pleasantly surprised at that, but it worked somewhat to keep the ball up the pitch.

    Jones was moved to CB which was OK because Smalling was on the RB and had the hight. Something I’ve suspecting Moyes of considering in the past. If Smalling was on the bench and Rafael or Fabio at RB, I pretty much convinced that Moyes wouldn’t have move Jones to CB.

    Other subs were also attacking,
    Vidic off, Cleaverly on. 45′
    Kagaway off, Giggs on 78′
    RvP off, Fellaini on 85′

    Much much better from Moyes. Tactics spot on for me. Took Wenger to the proverbial woodshed.

    Hope for more of this. United don’t do defensive well but managed to put in a shift on Sunday.

    9 games w/o loss. 3 wins on the bounce in the league. Nice way to go into the intl’s break.

  22. NBI Red Moyesy says:

    Jones would be my MOTM. The defence was immense. In attack we did not create enough. Rooney as MF player was good but as a No 10 as others have pointed out in attack his touch and decision making were off and on occasion poor, he was massive in hustling Arsenal at the end but he created little and failed to score, there were also times when he should have been running into the box to get onto the end of passes but his movement into the box was poor. Jones on the other hand did not put a foot wrong so for me he gets it.

    And I note what Scott says about the subs, I can understand the desire to make defensive subs but at 1-0 up there was always a risk Arsenal could score and we would need to get a goal to win.

    This was a good win build on very disciplined defending and we scored with a great RVP header from a set piece. Imo opinion we still need to work on creating more and scoring from open play but after a long time we looked solid in defence and MF with Jones in it. So a good step forward, hoping to see the attacking side.

    On this game – and it is just one game – Jones looks like he could be a MF. There was an article about how he is a modern player who could be a “false 4″ or “inverted sweeper”, I liked both those labels for him.

    As for Rooney I have seen nothing to believe he is our best No 10 or a best choice as second striker. I do think on the left of attack on as an AMF he offers something. I also noticed that he was given licence to get up and down the pitch this game and was plugging holes everywhere. He didn’t play like a striker on Sunday. But he did play like a AMF.

    Also shout out to Patrice, Evans, Vida and Kagawa who I thought were very good.

  23. NBI Red Moyesy says:

    @ Fletch – you don’t really expect goals fro Cleverly, Giggs or a new Fellani do you?

  24. Red Devil Disciple says:

    What a win well done Utd like A terrier nipping at the heels come on you Reds

  25. 0161-Jon says:

    Vidic was an absolute beast in that first half. He absolutely bossed Giroud, out jumping him I think every single time they challenged in the air. Was a pleasure to watch up close.

  26. Tommy says:


    Hahahaha even the scousers on that page said it was stupid giving them the league based on a tragedy, Very poor article by the Daily Fail again!

  27. berbatunday says:

    Prior to the game, I wanted Cleverley and Jones in MF as I tot their energy, mobility, and high-tempo will serve us well in MF but Jones covered for Carrick’s legs (who I tot wasn’t at his very best, due to injury?).

    Smalling had a good game, defensively but same old same attack wise so nothing new there. Still why no Fabio is a mystery.

    Rooney wasn’t exactly playing as a no. 10 was he? He was asked to use is lungs and work ethic and not to provide defence splitting passes. Saying that, he still provided the only assist. Plus I have never been convinced Rooney was one of the most talented players out there. His best attribute is his industry and work ethics

    I also tot the subs were effective although I actually don’t know what Giggs came on to do. He was only booting balls up field. Fellaini came on to hold up the ball with his big frame and tackle from the front. We also had enough good players on the pitch to score should arsenal equalise

    In all a good game that you would expect against a rival and more so the league leaders who have scored in all their games so far this season. They fail to muster anything at all in front of goal bcos of our effectiveness.

  28. Dave Mack says:

    Kudos to Scott for his Rooney comments. I’ve always loved Wazza, don’t belive what was said on this site about him and belive Fergie handled him poorly. What Scott is saying is you don’t have to like a player to recogmize what he does for the club we love. That is what Unites us and what support is all about.

  29. FletchTHEMAN says:

    NBI, Yes mate, I do.

    A CB for a MFer

  30. Daniel88 says:

    I was seriously worried looking at the team before the game. The performance in the first half was excellent. We pressed Arsenal from the front and bullied them. Why this doesn’t happen every game is beyond me. The two centre backs especially Vidic was all over Giroud.

    The second half was enraging. We just stood and watched them play. The exact opposite of the first half. We give teams so much room to play especially in central midfield


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