It’s funny how quickly things can change and the mood around a result can shift. In this fixture eleven seasons ago, a 2-2 draw had Sir Alex Ferguson skipping to the United fans at the Clock End of Highbury with a clenched fist of celebration. A draw away at Arsenal can rarely be classed as a bad result. Whilst there was nothing wrong with tonight’s result, it was the turgid performance put in from United which has angered most United fans of my acquaintance.
The Arsenal stadium, just after the second half had kicked off
At no point did I think United would score. United were bereft of any ambition, intent and, worst of all, any idea. A potential counter-attack for United in the penultimate minute of injury time summed this whole game up for the Reds. The move broke down through Michael Carrick and United strolled the ball around the middle of the park, content with possession alone. When United had possession during the match, they played as if defending a lead – which is all well and good when actually in the lead.
In the second minute, Robin Van Persie snatched at a chance and in the 79th, Arsenal keeper Tomasz Szczesny parried a Van Persie header onto the bar. These were isolated incidents as far as United were concerned. Arsenal had chances; they found David De Gea on particularly good form. It’s debatable who the man of the match was tonight. To me, it was either De Gea or referee Mark Clattenburg. There were one or two rum challenges going in, more often than not ones that would lead to a booking. With admirable common sense, in a throwback to how referees used to manage games, Clattenburg didn’t flash his card at all until the 86th minute, when he booked Arsenal full back Bacary Sagna for a foul on Wayne Rooney. In the 62nd minute, Antonio Valencia headed off the line from Laurent Koscielny. Two minutes later, Arsenal were denied what I thought was a certain penalty when Nemanja Vidic pushed Olivier Giroud in the United penalty area.
United fans had travelled to London en-masse for this match. It’s not a divine right of United fans to expect victory, despite what some clueless knobheads who get all their football knowledge from Nick Hancock and David Baddiel may think. Most United fans would’ve spent £100 before slurping a glass of water getting to this match, plus a day off work. However, travelling Reds deserve a better performance than the crap served up tonight. Who’s looking forward to Euro aways in mining villages in the old East Germany next season? It’s as good as it’s gonna be.