The gunners came away with a loss against fierce rivals Manchester United with Englishman Danny Welbeck securing the win with a well placed goal nine minutes from time. While the loss is a huge improvement on the 8-2 mauling the last time these two teams met, the gunners will still be disappointed coming away with no points after having several good goal-scoring opportunities.
First of all, it is evident that our full-back dilemma is hampering us hard. Manchester United ran riot down the flanks, particularly down Djourou’s side of the pitch, with the Swiss defender getting skinned time and time again by the dangerous Nani. It was inevitable United’s attacks down Djourou’s wing would eventually bear fruit and is a serious problem that needs to be rectified in coming weeks. I only hope for Sagna’s quick return.
On a more positive note FINALLY Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was given his deserved opportunity ahead of the out-of-sorts Andrey Arshavin. The young Englishman was very active and played a significant part in most of Arsenal’s attacks, particularly in the first-half. His reverse pass for Van Persie’s equaliser showed the potential of the young man and hopefully he plays more and more for the first-team and definitely should on the back of this performance.
Yet again I find myself after the match talking about a poor performance of little Russian Andrei Arshavin. Did practically nothing on attack and should have been smarter on defence when Valencia ran at him. Simply should have jockeyed and showed him line, but foolishly jumped in to allow the Ecuadorian to cut in and run in the box, eventually leading to Welbeck’s winner. Defences for Arshavin’s stay are definitely wearing thin, particularly when Chamberlain should not have been substituted in the first place. A move backed up by the reaction of Robin van Persie.
We look forward to the upcoming game against Aston Villa in the FA Cup. While the game has no impact on the Premier League, it should provide the opportunity for a confidence boost considering we have lost three in row in the Premier League.
on the performance…
I am really disappointed because we had a difficult first half, a nervous first half. [It was] technically not at the level we want and we came back well with a fantastic fighting spirit in the second half. I thought we had the chances to win the game quite comfortably in the second half but you feel the Manchester United team is a bit more mature in every position than we are.
It was important not to make a mistake, either tactically or attention-wise, and especially on the flank. We were caught at a moment where we felt we were closer to winning the game. Having battled like we did and to come out without anything is very difficult to take.
on the substitution of Andrey Arshavin for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain…
I can understand that the fans are upset about the substitution, especially when it doesn’t work, but I made the right decision at the start of the game [in starting Oxlade-Chamberlain]. He had started fatigue, stretched his calf and he was sick in the week.
People pay for their tickets and are free to express their emotions. We have to deal with that, not to dictate behaviour to people.
on Robin van Persie’s reaction…
I didn’t see [Robin van Persie’s reaction]. I don’t want to come out on every reaction. We lost the game now and I don’t think I have to explain what I will do. I have to stand up for the result and the substitutions I made.
on Welbeck’s winning goal…
We lose together and we win together, and now you want me to blame one player? I won’t do that. About the player, I am not completely sure. It could have happened if [Oxlade-Chamberlain] stayed on. Manchester United are very dangerous on the flanks.
on the race for a top-four spot…
It leaves us in a very difficult position because we couldn’t afford to lose. But there are also a lot of positives from this game. The way we responded in the second half is a positive thing. It’s difficult to have a reaction like that and come out with no points at all.
I feel the referee had a fair game overall and we had a nervous first half, we didn’t play enough. In the second half we played our game but unfortunately we were not rewarded. But we need to keep that spirit and play.
Djourou Mertesacker Koscielny Vermaelen
Walcott Van Persie (c) Chamberlain
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.0: While the young Pole was very aggressive in his keeping style, it seemed to pay off. Couldn’t do much about the two goals he conceded.
Johan Djourou | 3.0: Was exposed time and time again by the dangerous Nani. Was rightly substituted at half-time for the young Yennaris
Per Mertesacker | 6.5: For the most part had great positional awareness and won numerous headers for the gunners. Even had a goal-line clearance after Welbeck stroked the ball passed an on-rushing Szczesny.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.5: The Frenchman continues to prove his worth after another excellent defensive performance. Contained Welbeck well and made a number of tackles and interceptions.
Thomas Vermalen | 6.0: While solid for a majority of the match, two of his rare lapses lead to Arsenal conceding. Let Valencia ghost passed him at the back post for a header and let him stroll into the penalty area for United’s second.
Alexandre Song | 7.0: Did his primary job of screening the defence exceptionally well. Was practically the only on capable of breaking down the United attacks in midfield.
Tomas Rosicky | 6.5: Was much quicker on the ball in the second half, releasing the ball early on the counter-attack. Set-up Van Persie for a sitter, played an important ball to Chamberlain for Arsenal’s first, and had a chance of his own that was only blocked by Evra.
Aaron Ramsey | 5.5: An off day for the Welshman who will be sweating on his spot with Wilshere due to return soon. Distribution was hit-and-miss. Subbed for Ju Young Park in the 84th minute.
Theo Walcott | 5.0: With Gervinho returning and Oxlade-Chamberlain showing his potential, Walcott must be also sweating on his place in the first-team after being largely absent in the match. He is too experienced for these kind of displays and needs to improve or face the axe.
Robin van Persie | 6.5: Will be extremely disappointed with his miss directly in front of goal after great work from Rosicky. Went some way to redeeming himself after grabbing the equaliser, but definitely should have had a brace today.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 8.0: A great performance from Arsenal’s young prodigy. Looked very lively and was always willing to put in the hard yards and help out on defence. Was wrongly substituted for Andrei Arshavin in the 73rd minute, particularly after Chamberlain had just set up the crucial equalising goal with a brilliant reverse pass.
- Notable Substitutions
Nico Yennaris | 6.5: The young 18 year-old was much more convincing against Nani then Djourou and must have gone some way to staking a claim in the team, particularly with Jenkinson and Sagna still out with injury.
Andrei Arshavin | 4.0: Had one influential play on the game, which happened to be defending poorly against Valencia leading too United’s winner. A cameo to forget for the little Russian