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Reactions To Victory Over Arsenal

1. After the man that should have been sent off for a nasty stamp won and scored a match winning penalty in injury time for Manchester City, you had to wonder whether today was going to be our day. There had been plenty of talk of “revenge” from Arsenal players ahead of kick-off, in reference to the 8-2 battering we dished out at Old Trafford, so we knew they would be up for this game even more than usual. To get all three points from one of our more difficult games of the season is definitely an achievement, particularly given how depleted our squad is currently.

2. Patrice Evra was named Man of the Match, which I certainly enjoyed given how much he is hated by Arsenal fans, but I’d argue Antonio Valencia was more worthy of the award. Evra did really well going forward, encouraged by the fact Arsenal are struggling for someone to fill in for them at full-back, but he did still have a few lapses defensively. In contrast, Valencia scored our opener and assisted the winner, meaning he had more influence on us picking up the three points than anyone else. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching him play over the past couple of months. He always seems to have the confidence to take on a defender or two and more often than not is successful in doing so. He did really well to outjump Thomas Vermaelen for the goal and did all the hard work for the second goal, cutting inside and beating a couple of players to set up Danny Welbeck.

3. Another player who is in brilliant form at the moment is Michael Carrick, who has just stepped his game up a notch or two over the past few months. He works hard defensively, putting in important challenges, but is also showing off his vision and ability in picking great passes for our forward men. It’s worrying to hear that he played the second half with some hamstring problems as he is currently our most important player. Another injury blow was Phil Jones who, despite initial reports, looks to be out for a few weeks with ligament damage. After going off on a stretcher, the reporter on the touchline claimed United thought it was just a twisted ankle. Sadly, it’s more serious than that, meaning yet again we are totally stretched in midfield. Nani, who also had an impressive game, despite his poor decision making with the final ball, was subbed off and seen wearing a protective boot as he got off the train in Manchester. Scholes and Giggs as our central pair for Anfield?

4. Neither Wayne Rooney nor Danny Welbeck played particularly well today but maybe we were always going to see less of them given our game plan was to make the most of Arsenal’s weaknesses out wide. At 1-0, Welbeck was clipped by Mertesacker, the last man, just outside the box, which put him off balance as he shot. After beating the keeper he couldn’t get enough on his effort as a result and Mertesacker was able to clear it off the line. Had he gone down it would have been a red card for the German. I’m not going to lay in to him for being honest but when players are diving under no contact, I would have been happier to see him go to ground when he has been clipped. Trying to stay on your feet isn’t rewarded in the Premier League, so why bother. His real crime came very late on in the game when he had a perfect opportunity to put us 3-1 up. After hurtling forward and doing all the hard work, he seemed to bottle it when he got in the box, losing the ball under his feet without a challenge, and Arsenal got it away. However, he did score us the winning goal and he does work hard off the ball. I love seeing him in our starting XI and any complaint I had of him today will be corrected with experience.

5. Not even the return of Thierry Henry can silence the complaints of Arsenal fans though, with them booing the team off at half-time when the scoreline was just 1-0. The worst reaction came when Wenger, in all his wisdom, decided to take off Oxlade-Chamberlain and replace him with Arshavin. The youngster was a real threat and Rafael had a tough time trying to contain him. Just minutes after setting up Arsenal’s equaliser goal he was replaced with Arshavin, who has looked dreadful all season. The fans booed the decision loudly whilst captain Robin van Persie was incredulous. There could only be one player who would allow Valencia to then skip past him so easily to set up the winner. “He doesn’t want to be here,” Gary Neville said of Arshavin after the game. “He said he doesn’t like London, doesn’t like England, thinks our women are ugly, he doesn’t want to be here. I think he wants to go back to Russia. So go back, because honestly, Arsenal fans don’t want him out there.” Wenger admitted the mistake he made. “When it was 1-1 it looked like we would win but in the end one tactical mistake lost us the game. I do not want to dwell too much on that now but one second of inattention can cost you. I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn’t work, but he (Oxlade-Chamberlain) had started to fatigue. He was sick in the week. Arshavin is captain of the Russia national team. You have an 18-year-old kid making his first Premier League start and a player who’s captain of his country and they are querying the substitution? Let’s be serious.” I’d have fancied us to win regardless but we were certainly helped by this decision. Will it be Spurs and Chelsea who join the Manchester clubs in the Champions League next season? I hope so. Wenger’s stubbornness has irritated me for a long time. He would rather do things his way and fail than adjust his plan for the sake of success. Arsenal fans used to bleat on about how well Wenger ran their club in light of our debt and Chelsea’s ridiculous spending. You won’t catch many arguing the same anymore.

6. The defence deserve a mention today for a good performance. We’re playing with a different combination of defenders every game due to injuries which is incredibly unsettling. To limit Arsenal to just three shots on target at home is an achievement. Played lads.

7. It was vital we got the points today and I’m very happy with how we played overall. It was frustrating to see us sit back in the second half and I worried it would cost us. Why don’t we just go for the kill in that situation? Still, to concede fairly late on but still go out and get the win is worthy of praise. We’re down to the bare bones at the moment and it’s going to be a real struggle whilst we’re waiting for players to come back, but we’re one more difficult game out of the way and the distance has remained the same. Well done lads.

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. Lebomanc says:

    Dave Malaysia

    Excuse me? What is this about the saucer of milk?
    And mind me if I didn’t read the article

  2. Gexmex says:

    @ sparkz….

    Your understanding of what a striker does is rather limited. Welbeck is indeed better WITH the ball than Hernandez. But that is NOT the case when it comes to movement without the ball. That’s where Hernandez shines, every PL CB will be far more happy with Welbeck than with Hernandez, for that very reason. Frome the point of view of openings and space, Hernandez when on form creates far more space for others (aka Rooney) and for himself than the Welbecks or Sturridges of the league.
    If someone like Mertesacker was able to deal with Welbeck most of the time, it is because he lacks the pace, and movement of Hernandez. So it is not the case of Chico being a more individual finisher.
    As I said, once Hernandez gets fit (and Cleverly comes back) Ferguson will have to make his mind.

  3. jasmine_MUFC says:

    will nani and phil be able to play in our next game against Liverpool?

  4. WillieRedNut says:

    Jones is out for a few weeks. Nani was wearing a protective foot brace. The latter must be doubtful for Saturday. Whether he would’ve played against the dippers is anyones guess. Think Park would likely start this one anyway.

  5. RedManWalking says:

    Arsenal got away with murder. At the end of the game, I thought Rooney might just drop dead the way he was kicked about.

    Overall an excellent first half. Though we made it difficult for ourselves in the second half. Like Sir Alex said, we should have scored more in the first half. We had plenty of opportunities.

    Ryan Giggs – Tearing you apart since 1991. Nuff’ said.

    Can’t wait to see Cleverley return against Pool. Will be a big boost for us in midfield. :)

  6. Sparkz says:

    @Gexmex – Gotta disagree mate. Hernandez has been fit for a while and we’ve seen which way Fergie’s been going, he still keeps going for Danny.

    I can’t agree that Welbeck lacks pace, that’s a laughable claim. His movement (as Fergie, Neville and Souness also pointed out) is also tremendous.

    Same applies for Hernandez – his pace and movement is terrific. But that’s where the similarities end. Chicha is a better goalscorer and finisher, period. Welbeck is better on the ball in terms of linking play up….and that’s more important IMO. Coz Danny can create his own chances, as well as chances for other. Chicharito is reliant on service from others.

    Its like Van Nistelrooy vs Saha….Ruud was a far better goalscorer/finisher….but the team created far more chances and scored more with Saha in the side.

    As an added benefit – in the big games, where we may not have as much possession – Danny’s superior ability to lead the line and hold the ball up fits better. As we saw last season at both the Emirates, and in the Champions League final..Hernandez doesn’t offer that, you send the ball to him and it comes straight back.

    Both quality players, but I think Hernandez will be the clinical impact player off the bench.

  7. rohan19 says:

    spurs got the moral victory this weekend

  8. WillieRedNut says:

    Spurs got Balo away! :)

  9. denton davey says:

    Gex Mex @14:56: I ‘m a huge admirer of Chicharito ( “who only scores goals”. LOL !) but I think that Sparkz’s point is well-taken: DannyTheLad’s size, stretch, aerial prowess, and his hold-up play edge it for me.

    A few years ago, SAF had a challenge to figure how to play Dimmy with TheWayneBoy – and failed to come up with a solution. I don’t think that this conundrum will repeat itself since it seems pretty clear to me – not just from watching yesterday’s match – that it shouldn’t be impossible to find a way to use all three together in some version of a 4-1-4-1 formation or maybe a “4-1-1-3-1″ arrangement. Would that be fun – or what ?

  10. Gexmex says:

    @ sparks.
    Again,,,,a team depends on the movement of its player off the ball. That’s my poing. Welbeck is a good player off the ball, but Hernandez is simply two levels ahead of him in that dept. You fail to see things from the point of view of a CB. Hernandez on form is a nightmare for them. Welbeck is one more of a crowd of good strikers. I will put it in the same terms you are using. Rooney has been left without spaces to get into, simply because the striker in front of him is not creating them (unlike last season).
    When I wrote “fit” I should have said “on form”. Chicha is fit, true. But he’s not on form. Once he does, Fergurson will have a big decision to make regarding who to play.

  11. rohan19 says:

    telly tubbies have started kicking the balo way!

  12. rohan19 says:

    Due to a record number of complaints from the liverpool region,ITV have decided to cancel their new show.

    The African cup of nations 2012

  13. King Eric says:

    denton – Hello mate. Valencia shouldnt have needed to cover Rafal. The Brazillian was too busy punching the deck like a little kid to even get back up on his feet.

    Lipton is a fucking rentboy fan. I expect nowt better from him.

  14. Sparkz says:

    @Gexmex – You make a good point with regards to the movement. But looking at things from a centre back’s point of view, Danny’s just as much of a nightmare to deal with, for all the reasons above.

    Rooney’s best run of form this season has been when he’s paired with Danny, so that’s not an issue. I’m not sure you realise how good Danny’s movement actually is…he’s constantly getting in behind defences (did it many times yesterday but we weren’t playing him in enough)

    On top of that….he can also come deep and play the one twos with everyone else…which is the way Fergie wants us playing now, especially when Cleverley returns.

    The Rooney & Chicha partnership is fearsome…but if teams sit on Rooney, that’s a key part of Hernandez’s supply line gone. He’s then relying solely on the wingers.

    Danny on the other hand can rotate. If the opposition’s defensive midfielder is sitting on Rooney, those two can just interchange and cause havoc.

  15. King Eric says:

    Willie – Spot on about Rooney mate at 2 o clock.

    Regards injuries could it be that Strudwick pushes players to their very limits to ensure United are so strong in the last 10 minutes?

  16. rohan19 says:

    With time wasting becoming a bigger and bigger problem in football these days, a new rule will be implemented with immediate effect.

    Anyone passing the ball to Andy Carroll will be booked for it

  17. King Eric says:

    Yeah I too thought it was Danny’s goal. Danny has no pace ? Are you serious? He is electric.

  18. rohan19 says:

    chicharito and welbeck can’t be compared..
    chicharito is more owen-esque and danny is more like berba but with pace..
    rooney is the complete player and a beast on his day..
    its great that we have such quality and versatility in our squad..
    there can be many pairings of the above.
    as such if the team is defending really deep and we need to open them up with little time remaining then chicho would work best with his excellent movement and pin point finishing.
    but in games like yesterday where a forward with technical brilliance and a willingness to work for the team is needed then danny’s the guy.
    all this considering rooney as the permanent ‘in the hole’ player..

  19. WillieRedNut says:

    Danny’s touch was off at times, but he ran Arsenal ragged! Pity he didn’t score near the end, when he was through on goal. Would’ve capped a solid performance.

  20. Zombie Cucumber says:

    “…I would have been happier to see him go to ground when he has been clipped. Trying to stay on your feet isn’t rewarded in the Premier League, so why bother?”


  21. Costas says:

    Good point from King Eric about Rafael’s reaction just before the Arsenal goal. Wasn’t surprised to see him off afterwards. I have to say that it worries me that this is the twins’ 4th season at the club, they are 21-22 and they still seem to lack a certain maturity.

  22. gexmex says:

    @sparkz and rohan….

    Just a few comments. The way the arse’s defensive line played yesterday, the score should have been 5 or 6 to 1. The role of the striker playing in front of Rooney, with two strong wingers delivering crosses, is to put those balls inside the goal. Attack the near and far post, and not to wait for the ball on the edge of the box (look at the replay of yesterday’s match).

    Regarding movement in MU’s formation. The role of the “front” striker is to play on the CB’s shoulder and, to stretch the opponents defense, not to run into it, because when you run into the CBs Rooney is left with little space, and don’t tell me that that hasn’t been the case.. (Again, yesterday’s match is a good example). When you have someone like Valencia or Nani on the wings
    you need someone able to turn 2 of every three good crosses into goals or near goals. Link up play is far more important when the other striker is someone like Bent.
    I agree that given present form Welbeck should start. But I am thinking about the future, when Chicha returns to form. You seem to think that he will accept a position of permanent understudy to Welbeck, sitting on the bench waiting to be called when needed. Maybe that will be possible, given Hernandez character, but I have strong doubts about it.

  23. denton davey says:

    King Eric/Costas -really harsh comments about Rafael. The kid had just run the length of the pitch and then flubbed his chance-for-glory. Even if he hadn’t beat his fists into the turf in frustration, Valencia’s job was to provide cover – Valencia didn’t do that. With regard to his substitution, SAF wanted to bring on TheGingerNinja – who else could have been taken off ?

  24. smartalex says:

    Sir Alex on replacing Rafael with Ji-Sung Park:

    “Rafa wasn’t pleased and I can understand that. But he’d already been booked and I thought he might be in trouble if he made another half-bad challenge.”

  25. Sparkz says:

    @Gexmex – I don’t think Hernandez will “accept” it! And if Welbeck’s form was to drop, then Hernandez would be back in there.

    With regards to the role you think the frontman should be playing……….that’s where I’d disagree. Don’t get me wrong, stretching the defences is important. But looking at the way we played in pre season and the early games (as well as some of our games in December)….Fergie’s tryna add more variety to our game. He wants the quick passing and interchanging of movement as well.

    That’s why Welbeck is so handy IMO. If needed, he can stretch defences and play on the shoulder. He’s done that many many times this season, and he did it yesterday as well (as I said, we just didn’t feed him enough….but look at the 3 chances he missed for example, they all came from him playing on the shoulder).

    However, he also comes deep and gets involved in the build up play. Plays loads of little one-twos etc etc. Looking at the way Fergie’s tryna evolve this team….that’s far more important than having someone who only really comes alive inside the penalty area.

    I will agree that Welbeck has a lot to learn in terms of those near post, far post runs which would help him convert crosses (Chicharito’s brilliant at that). But football’s moving on IMO, and the Hernandez type of player is a dying breed.

  26. FatOupa says:

    Am I the only person who thinks rvp shouldve been sent off?
    Happy 91st opa wim, but surely that’s a yellow card? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really like that rule, but he did lift his shirt, which is a yellow. He got booked later on again, so why no sending off?
    Tal Cohen scored and wrote a message to his father who passed away and got carded last season… Just a thought

  27. zactaxe says:

    Just want to mention about that cunt Mario’s ban now — now that the joker ref Webb admitted that he would send Mario off if he had seen the violent behaviour, now should the joker FA take away 3 points from City because of “playing a player that is ineligible”?

  28. denton davey says:

    smartAlex@ 19:31 – you’re right; I got the substitutions mixed-up. Bringing on Park for Rafael was clearly a move to put a more veteran presence on the pitch -and the little dynamo had already been been booked so I don’t think that the substitution can be connected in any with Rafael’s fantastic run which stranded him in TheArse’s half. If he had scored then TheLads would have two goals ahead. It was a not unreasonable “gamble” for him to have made.

  29. YorYor says:

    Perhaps there was also an element of playing it safe with respect to Rafael’s physique… he was probably approaching his “60 min quota per game”…?

    Well chuffed with the win, just when it looked like Arsenal was gonna snatch 2 points away from us. It’s one of those performances that just didn’t have to complain about… except about Nani’s execution, not his decisions. He just wasn’t shooting or crossing that well, but he was a real thorn to Arsenal.

    2 games in quick succession coming up, hopefully that won’t tire our depleted squad too much.

  30. CROoney says:

    @denton davey – i don’t blame rafael for the goal or the missed chance, i blame rooney who instead of opting for striker he gave it to the defender while welbeck was running with his stronger foot perfectly placed for shooting…i don’t like the fact that rooney ALWAYS AND I MEAN ALWAYS OPTS for movement to his stronger foot.always trying to beat men on that side and always passes to his right

  31. CROoney says:

    as for giggs – uncharacteristically uncosious and had some bad passes but made up with running and a brilliant assist

  32. Luki / @looqey says:

    Two Important away win, City and now Gunners, and the game is also very entertaining to watch. Next is liverpool waiting on anfield, for a cup game is never easy to win there. i think United squad should concentrate for that game for the moment

  33. smartalex says:

    denton davey – Agreed, it was a not unreasonable “gamble” for Rafael to have made.

    It is likely that after post-match analysis attention will be paid to the lack of cover apparent.
    Our strategy of attacking wing-backs encompasses the necessary positional fluidity required.

    We did not cover adequately for Rafael’s foray.

    Is it possible or likely that Rafael had been instructed NOT to venture forward?
    It’s possible, but it seems unlikely.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    That said, it seems that Rafael’s failing was far greater than merely abandoning his post.

    He was not in control of himself. Pummeling the ground angrily with your fists is a clear sign of emotional overload. Especially when you are:
    - already on a yellow card,
    - have received Red previously in similar circumstances, from the same referee,
    - 80 metres from where you’re needed, and expected.
    - playing in a key fixture at a top 5 club,
    - the game is balanced on a knife edge.

    This does not bode well for his future.

    Rafael was on the field as an injury replacement, which hampered SAF’s tactics. That he then forced Fergie’s hand into re-replacing Jones and thereby robbing us of a second tactical sub, shows his immaturity. We then suffered several injuries and many players were cramping; no respite was available. We might easily have lost due to Rafael’s lack of self control. Thank goodness for Sir Alex and Tony ‘RightBackAtYer’ Valencia.


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