“We have the experience to go the distance” – Park Ji Sung


The consistency of the Korean captain to bounce back every time he goes through a bad patch, to turn up for the team when it really matters, albeit through a fortuitous deflection, yet adapting to create something out of nothing, eventually decided this richly touted fixture [though united should have sealed the game off with a couple or more].

Arsenal came to Old Trafford on the back of a season where consistency has been more away rather than at home and Arsene Wenger said one thing clearly. “We are here to win!”

Squads

  • Fergie decided to opt for a 4-5-1 | 4-3-3 formation with Rooney as the lone striker packing the midfield with 5. [Scholes being unfit dint figure]To drop a player who has just scored 5 goals in his last game beats logic, but the gaffer has won 34 for a reason J
  • Wenger ‘s surprise card was the man between the sticks, Szczesny, ok the dude Is Polish, and sorry I need time to actually figure out how to spell|pronounce his name ;-). It did baffle me why he did not start Robin Van Persie, and Rosicky chosen ahead of Theo to start.

0-45’

Cautious start by both teams, with midfielders rarely willing to move into more attacking positions fearing a compromise on the counter.  United were invited to have a go at the debutant as and when the opportunity rose. Barring a suspect clearance with his feet, the Polish was fairly comfortable until a half cleared Fletcher cross fell to the inform PortugeseNani who whizzed a half volley inches outside of the far post.

As the half grew on, the visitors kept piling up number of teeny weeny fouls here and there. [SAF did make an effort to let everyone know prematch the gooners are in no way the softies that Arsene claims them to be]

Eventually United persistence lead to a goal when for the first time in the game, Nani got the better of Clichy (or almost did) but unfortunately for the Frenchman, his block deflected Nani’s attempt on goal to Park who was in the right area, but lunging back to loup it past a hapless keeper in to the top corner (41’)

 

46’-90’ [+4]

With the visitors trailing the desire to attack United was more evident, and that suited the free flow move of Arsenal. However United were happy to threaten each time on the counter and a lot of the quick balls were directed to Nani who created himself a brilliant opportunity after winning the ball from Clichy, only to lob it over the crossbar.

Rooney’s frustration was evident and it was surprising he dint get himself into the book but his attempted lob over the keeper is a sign of the things to come. A controversial handball gave a penalty which united did not deserve and rightly so, Wayne smashed it skyward!

Anderson continued his good form coming into this game and almost scored his second in successive games from a through ball from Wayne, but the keeper had a moment of brilliance to smother the chance.

Wenger tried to change things around through Cesc, RvP and Theo, but despite all the good ball possession, Arsenal were not allowed a sniff at United‘s goal. Vidic leading from the front was in full control of the entire game, hardly troubled by the presence of the Moroccan.

One or two inflammatory moments involving Nani, Fletcher, Rosicky and Wilshere were well handled by Howard Webb who had a decent game.

Players

  • Wojcieh Szczesny: is promising, but Arsenal need more than promising talent for silverware.
  • Samir Nasri: disappointed as much was expected of him to create. Couldn’t penetrate a solid midfield.
  • Koscielny|Squillaci: Answered critics with a solid performance.
  • Chamakh: will learn from the game. Vidic worked him up and he got himself booked.
  • Wayne Rooney: left frustrated with himself or god knows what at times, missed a sitter of a penalty, but plenty of positives nonetheless.
  • Nani: He is just turning it a notch up game after game after game.
  • Vidic: the crux of the defence. A very good day at the office for the cap’n.
  • Park: the lone goal scorer, his services as always, 100%. [my MOTM]

Inference

  • Arsenal came to make a statement, Wenger before the game: “We are here to win”; after: “The pitch was really bad”
  • United went about their job just as Fergie wanted, but he will surely grill them for the carelessness in front of goal.
  • Was no way a title decider, but an eye opener for Arsenal as they ponder, “ How is this year any different”.
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