Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal - 5 Talking Points
Chris Smalling with the armband
Everyone was completely taken aback when Louis van Gaal announced his team for this high profile clash. No, the buzz was not due to Radamel Falcao’s return to the starting line-up but the choice of his captain for this game.
Chris Smalling was declared as the captain of Manchester United. Yes! This was Smalling’s moment of glory as the former Fulham defender was at the centre stage in one of the biggest games of the season. Louis van Gaal defended his decision to hand the captain’s armband to a defender who not so long ago was considered a liability at United. The
Dutch coach said that he sees a leader of defence in Smalling,
"I have watched and observed Chris Smalling," the Dutchman explained.
"I shall name a captain as a human being, not only a player who passes from A to B but how you deal with your players. I believe he has been a leader of our defence."
This is definitely a big step up for the Englishman who was recently awarded a new long term contract. And for all those curious souls who missed the game, United’s new captain led from front as he didn’t disappoint with his performance and also marshalled his troops fairly well.
Victor Valdes graces Old Trafford, finally!
The former Barcelona legend finally made his competitive debut after his career threatening injury suffered last season. Although, he would have hoped for a more formal debut but nonetheless the Spaniard replaced his compatriot in 74th minute with a warm applause.
The Spain international put up a decent show for 20 odd minutes he played for the first team. He was bit unlucky to concede a spook goal as Tyler Blackett’s deflection gave Arsenal the much needed equaliser and a hope to get a positive result.
With the reports of De Gea’s exit picking up by the each passing minute, it remains to be seen whether Victor Valdes can repay the faith shown by Louis van Gaal. He certainly has the quality to fill in for his fellow stopper but whether he can sustain it over a long and gruelling season is what remains to be seen.
He is one of the most decorated goalkeepers in the world; it is now up to Louis van Gaal and his team, whether to trust Valdes with the responsibility or to get a world class reinforcement at Old Trafford.
A sombre farewell to David De Gea?
The buzz in British and Spanish press regarding David De Gea’s big money move to Real Madrid is simply deafening. Marca and other Spanish dailies have blown the trumpet that their boy is returning home. Both the player and the club have been mum about this which has only added more fuel to the fire.
Tonight, David De Gea probably played his last game at Old Trafford in the red and whites. But the 24 year old Spaniard had a pretty sombre farewell as he hobbled off the pitch with a hip injury. The former Atletico Madrid star has been Manchester United’s best player for past couple of seasons by some distance.
Louis van Gaal’s quotes in the post match interview were hardly encouraging. The Dutchman for the first time openly revealed something on De Gea’s future.
‘He has the chance to go to another great club,’ he told Sky. ‘He is Spanish. His girlfriend is Spanish. But he shall not leave easily, because we have a great club.’
If he stays its good for him as well as Manchester United but if he leaves which is more likelier scenario at the moment, he deserved a better send off than today.