Monday, December 13, 2010

Manchester United 1 - Arsenal 0

Arsenal came to Old Trafford in first place, and left in second place. But they are far from truly being in contention for the Premiership title. The entire team played nervous and sloppy today, spraying balls all over the field and rarely holding possession for any length of time. The Gunners looked like a mid-table team, more interested in fouling United players than in trying to outplay them. Arsenal's offense hardly gave United goalie Edwin van der Sar reason to break a sweat. The only saving grace was that Manchester United wasted a number of opportunities - including a terrible penalty miss by Wayne Rooney, after an equally terrible penalty call by the linesman - so that the final scoreline actually flattered Arsenal.

It seems is years since Arsenal were able to contend with the likes of Man U and Chelsea on the field, and today's game brought home the fact that the current Gunners side are still not prepared to go toe-to-toe with the top teams in the league. Aside from the usual culprits (Arshavin, Rosicki, and Squillaci), Alex Song seemed a step slow all game, and Cesc Fabregas looked far from fit when he replaced the ineffective Rosicki with a half hour to go. The only name worth mentioning in a positive vein for the Gunners is young Wojciech Szczesny, who looked competent in Arsenal's goal, making a fine save on an audacious chip by Wayne Rooney late in the game. He needs to work on his outlet passing, however.

If Arsenal still find themselves within shouting distance of the top of the table after the busy holiday schedule of fixtures, then Wenger had better reverse his earlier decision and open the wallet to bring in some support, especially in defense and defensive midfield. It's also past time to get Theo Walcott into the starting line-up ahead of the quickly aging Arshavin.

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