Match Report: Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United

A point at the Emirates doesn’t do an awful lot for United’s increasingly distant hopes of securing a Champions League slot next season, but the disciplined manner of the performance and a game in which they matched the title hopefuls may bode well for the longer term. Indeed, were it not for Szczesny thwarting Robin Van Persie close to both the beginning and end of the game, United might well have come away with a hard-earned point.

In a first half in which both sides struggled to produce any consistent fluency, the best chances came early and easily the best of them fell to Van Persie. Acting quickly to dispossess a sleeping Arteta, the Dutchman found himself through with only the keeper to beat, but uncharacteristically shot directly at Szczesny, who smothered the ball comfortably. Another opportunity to score against his own side was wasted when Van Persie shot across goal; between the two chances the closest Arsenal came to threatening De Gea’s goal was when Giroud misdirected a free header wide of the keeper’s right post.

Although the first 45 minutes offered pretty dour fare from both sides, tactically this was a vastly improved effort from the Reds when compared with other recent games against teams above us in the table. United showed little of the naivety that brought about defeats to Spurs and Chelsea; they refused to over-commit, Rooney frequently dropping deep to provide an extra central midfielder and Carrick and Cleverly maintaining a high line up the field, allowing them to keep a tight rein on Arteta and Wilshere and limited Arsenal to very few meaningful forays into the United box. It wasn’t, needless to say, pretty, but it showed a work ethic and a character that’s been seriously questioned so often this season. Representing the spirit most was Vidic, who grew in stature as the game went on and Arsenal began to seek more earnestly the points that would take them above Chelsea at the top of the league.

The home side came close to scoring just after the hour mark when Valencia was called upon to clear Koscielny’s header off the line. This followed the first period of sustained pressure from Arsenal to bring a serious test for the back for. As the minutes ticked on, both sides began to shed the cautious approach that had served them thus far and showed a clear determination to go for the winner. Both sides introduced youth and speed from the bench, Januzaj coming on for United and Oxlade-Chamberlain for Arsenal. Soon afterwards, the home side came lose when Giroud just failed to get the decisive touch on a wicked Sagna cross and soon after United came even closer, a brilliant link-up between Rooney and Van Persie leading to the latter having his header tipped onto the woodwork by Szczesny.

Soon after, it was De Gea’s turn to imitate the heroics at the other end when he produced a superb save from Cazorla. In the final seconds of normal he saved again from the same player, this time holding on to the ball and bringing to an end the last meaningful attack of the game. Although Moyes was clearly urging his side forward as the match drew to a close, and despite the fact that three points was really what United needed here, their ability to produce the kind of performance that epitomised an away leg in a European game illustrated the quality that remains at the heart of this United team. Sadly, of course, it’s been dormant for too much of the season, which means that, unless we somehow go and win the Champions League, we’re unlikely to be deploying such tactics on the continent next season.

7 Comments

  1. As a one-off, not a bad point, but in the context of United trying to climb the table, two points dropped. Arsenal were there for the taking but for United to achieve that, they needed an inform Van Persie. Unfortunately he has been firing too many blanks this season; such a contrast with last year.

  2. if your still adament that utd dont need kagawa in the middle…. then i honestly believe you dont deserve to be a utd fan!

    rooney kept dropping deep to fill the void of having 2 defensive midfielders.

    i have said many times you CANT play from fletcher carrick or cleverley!

    its counter productive!! you try to defend all you will do is invite more attacking from your opponents! its common sense! we have toooo little attacking instinct out there on the pitch!! all i call for is one simple change! carrick out kagawa in!

    de gea
    rafael smalling jones evra
    clevereley
    mata kagawa janujaz
    rooney RVP

    i have been patient with moyes… but he is being ridiculous! arsenal played sooo poorly… and a draw was a genuine fair result! this is not acceptable for utd!!!

  3. Defensively we were excellent , especially vidic and de gea, Centrally we worked hard but need it all to tie in to serve the front players , until then we will struggle for consistency…still believe Moyes is not the man but think he will get till Xmas . As for Arsenal , battling against the sugar daddy clubs , they have done well but , the PL without Fergie will see money from oil and steel dominate

  4. The previous game saw plenty of service to the forwards. Today’s game, not enough service to the forwards.

    Whose job is it to provide the center forward?
    Mata, Valencia, and Rooney.

    1 of the 3 should have been replaced around the 60th-70th minute.
    Rooney should have been replaced by Kagawa. Kagawa plays in Rooney’s position to link up with RVP. Rooney gets subbed first because the midfield 4 were doing a good job defensively. Then wait 5 to 10 mins if another substitution is needed. I think Moyes is afraid to sub Rooney for he might throw a tantrum. Hehehe

    Moyes put in Januzaj and Young for Mata and Valencia. Young simply isn’t good enough at the left side. Why can’t Moyes try him on the right and Januzaj on the left? I wonder.

    As with the previous game, RVP’s headers needs improvement. Which leads me back to the same question. Is he better at scoring with the ball passed to his feet or to his head? The traditional ManU play is wing play so we need strikers that can head the ball. If he leaves this summer, I would not mind. He is injury prone. I’d rather give Welbeck or some other youth player the chance and hope he is good at heading the ball.

    I’d still back Moyes for ManU manager. He needs around 6 players to strengthen the squad next season. I hope he signs 3 seasoned professionals. Then promotes 3 young players from the ManU youth academy. I’m sure the fans would love to see a hometown kid play in the first team. He just needs to find the right mix of home grown ManU players and imported players.

    There was Busby babes and then Fergies fledgelings. Moyes will have his Moyes marauders.

  5. The game needed a goal to wake it up.
    Arsenal needed Ramsy and Wallcot.
    United need a manager and not a public relations man.
    United defended well and looked like they went for a point and got it.
    How lame can it get.

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