Manchester United vs Arsenal: Five talking points
1. The game never really lived up to the hype
The game which was touted as a clash between the best attack and the best defence of the league never really picked up in terms of quality and tempo. After United scored in the third minute of the game, Arsenal failed to really take the game to the opposition. The home side on the other hand, looked way too complacent throughout the game.
2. Santos vs Valencia-Rafael was never going to turn out well for Wenger
As soon as the lineups were announced, it was easy to predict that Antonio Valencia and Rafael will exploit the defensive side of the Brazilian full-back Andre Santos. And it took only 3 minutes as Rafael burst past Santos before a defensive howler from Vermaelen allowed van Persie to drill one in the back of the net. While United’s emphasis on their wing-play looked pretty obvious heading into the game, Wenger should have been rather more proactive before fielding Santos, who for most of the game looked pretty lethargic on the field.
3. Sir Alex may have finally got his setup for the season
After facing some weeks in the midst of injuries and the complications to find the right combination, Sir Alex may have finally found the right balance for his side that can live up to their title aspirations. The back four led by Ferdinand is finally settling well after the initial troubles. The midfield combo of Carrick and Cleverley has to be the most flexible pair from the options the manager claims to have at his disposal. However, it’s the link-up play of Rooney and van Persie up front that opens up endless possibilities for the Reds – some would rather love to compare it with the famous Cole-Yorke partnership that conquered Europe in the 1999 treble season.
4. Jack Wilshere‘s desperation summed up Arsenal’s performance
Arsenal fans expected so much from Wilshere ahead of this game after being the only positive influence in his side’s last league game against QPR. Yet, one has to question whether Wilshere was ready to have been started a game away from home, against the likes of Manchester United. No doubt, Wilshere did show some quality in the opening few exchanges in the midfield, but he always looked vulnerable when Carrick and Cleverley cramped them for space. With nothing going right for the Gunners, Wilshere’s frustration came into the picture, as a couple of cynical challenges from the Arsenal No. 10 led to his suspension, ending any possible chance for the away side to make a comeback in the game.
5. Cazorla’s hardwork counts for nothing without a potent goal threat upfront
Even after repeated claims from Wenger that his attack doesn’t need further strengthening, he would’ve certainly realized what his side’s missing after another toothless show in the league. The last three league games have yielded only two goals for the Gunners, while their only recognized centre-forward Olivier Giroud is still struggling to find some form with his new club. It was disheartening to watch Cazorla’s playmaking talent wasted throughout the game, as Wenger fiddled with his attacking options for most of the second half. Their title aspirations are surely dependent on how the Frenchman tackles this situation before his side hands further momentum to their rivals in the next few games.