Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Arsenal Fail to Convince at Home Against Man U: 0-0

After the drubbing they took at Liverpool last weekend, today's match at home to Manchester
United was a very important test to see whether the Gunners could reassert their claim to title contention. Indeed, a win would have taken Arsenal back to the top of the league, after Chelsea's draw yesterday at West Brom. The Gunners didn't exactly fail today's test, but neither could it be said that they passed with flying colors.

I only saw the second half of this contest (I was teaching during the first half), but if the second half was any indication of the first, I didn't miss much. Neither side looked much like a title contender. We already knew that about Man U, of course; but Arsenal's inability to put the hammer down and impose their will in big matches will continue to concern Arsene Wenger and Arsenal fans. At least the Gunners' defense appeared better organized today. And one cannot fault Arsenal's effort (aside from Wilshire, who was guilty of giving the ball away on several occasions, at least twice resulting in decent attacks for Man U). The Gunners worked really hard to get the breakthrough goal, but just couldn't manage it.

To be fair, Arsenal did look the side more likely to score in the second half, holding more of possession and creating several colorable chances. A Man U defender had to head the ball off the line in the 62d minute to preserve the draw. On the other hand, it took a fabulous save by Szczesny who deftly deflected a Van Persie header off the post in the 80th minute to keep Arsenal in the match. The last really good chance of the game came Arsenal's way in the penultimate minute of regular time, when Cazorla was fouled just outside of Man U's penalty area. Mesut Ozil was unable to get the free kick over the wall. A minute later, Cazorla (once again Arsenal's most dangerous player) forced De Gea to make a decent save (for the second time in five minutes).

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