Out fought, out classed, out paced and given a lesson in desire and determination. Losing three one to manu at home is bad enough but what makes it worse is the fact that they aren’t even that good; somehow, collectively, we managed to play so poorly that we made them look better than the average team that they really are.
I didn’t have a problem with the team selection; in fact, I was quite excited about it. The opportunity to watch Fabrégas, Rosicky, Arshavin and Nasri in the same team was something that I have had high hopes for since the pre-season, I know this is not the first time that they have played together and I also remember that their last outing did not live up to expectation but I figured that with this amount of individual talent in the same team it surely only had to be a question of time before it clicked into gear and became an unstoppable unit – the problem was that, sadly, today was not that day.
It is as if you take the finest Russian caviar, the freshest French oysters, the most mouth watering Spanish ham……you knew that I was going to get stuck when I came to the Czech Republic’s cuisine, didn’t you? Let’s give our Eastern European neighbours the benefit of the doubt and say that they have fabulous fillet steak. Individually all this foods are delicious but put them on the same plate and for some reason they just don’t work.
It all started well, Arshavin was making Evans and Brown look like two carthorses standing on their hind legs. The Russian was up for this game and was clearly giving everything he had but it was more head down and drive forward rather than create space and find a team mate better placed. Nevertheless, we looked like the team most likely to score first — this lasted for all of ten minutes until the tables turned and in next to no time we had used up eight of our nine cats lives before United inevitably got the break through…..Clichy was made to look a monkey by Nani before he lobbed a cross in that Almunia was only able to palm into his own net.
Naturally, we tried to respond but ten minutes later United broke from one of our corners and raced forward at Henry–Pires speed, sixty thousand Arsenal fans screamed in unison: watch Rooney, watch Rooney, watch Rooney but Denilson failed to hear; in fact, Denilson failed to do anything of any use — and surprise, surprise Shrek scored. Two down at half time and being without hard liquor or class A drugs the break was tough going, most people were walking around in silence with a shell shocked stare.
The second half got underway and one of my friends, returning late, said, as he sat down, it can’t get any worse; tellingly, no one turned around in agreement. I suppose we tried to rally, there seemed to be a bit more urgency about us but, whereas, our interplay was flicks and tricks their passing was crisp and purposeful. Before long, and by this time, unsurprisingly, they scored a third, I can’t even remember who it was, just a blur of black pouring forward at speed past helpless red and white shirts, this was game over and we hadn’t even had a shot on the United goal that had forced Van de Sar to make a save.
Yes, we scored and for five minutes we deluded ourselves that there might be a miracle on the cards but that bubble was burst when Almunia made one of the most pathetic clearances I have ever seen a keeper make in all the time I have been watching Arsenal, it was humiliating as was our afternoon.
I am not bothering with player ratings; it would just get too depressing, I would, however, just like to say that out of the tiny minority of players that had the right to hold their head up as they left the field, Alex Song was one of them.