That’s what the first half an hour of Sunday’s clash at Arsenal seemed like. In the lead up to the game many thought this would be another positive outcome for United, after all they were playing against a side that hadn’t beaten ours for over four years in the league. Also, Arsenal are a big side, and Van Gaal always does well against those kind of teams, right? Wrong.
We were worried as soon as the line-up was announced as we thought the back four looked ‘light’, especially with Ashley Young as left-back. As soon as the game started, United were out-paced, outplayed, and outgunned, and after just six minutes Arsenal were already in the lead from a Sanchez goal, and one minute later they were two up thanks to Ozil. When Sanchez got a second and Arsenal’s third after twenty minutes, we knew the game was well and truly over, and braced ourselves for a similar score line to when we beat them 8-2. Thankfully(?) the United players realised there was a game going on and at least made sure they went into the dressing room at half-time not conceding more.
When Fellaini and Valencia came on for the second half, it looked like confirmation that United wouldn’t even get close to getting anything out of this game, as let’s be honest, United can’t rely on such players if they really want to be fighting to win against the top clubs. Things did improve slightly as Arsenal decided to let their foot off the pedal and sit back, while United passed the ball around like they were the ones with a three goal lead. A couple of chances to make the score line more respectable went begging, though Arsenal had more chances to make this more embarrassing than it already was. When the final whistle went, we were as relieved as we were downhearted as at least United didn’t lose by a cricket score, even if it would have been deserved.
We were left dumbfounded as never mind not starting a player like Schneiderlin, he didn’t even come off the bench to shore up our slow-looking, ineffective midfield. Yes, Schweinsteiger and Carrick played well together against teams that don’t play a high-paced game like the Gunners, but this was a game that needed someone to fight for and win the ball before the damage was done.
Another worry that’s been there for months is our captain, Wayne Rooney. Unfortunately when it comes to him many either defend him no matter how rubbish he’s playing (and his performances definitely stink right now), or have a go at him no matter what, like scoring three goals against Bruges shouldn’t count because the Belgians were a poor side. Which maybe they are, but you don’t see everyone scoring hat-tricks against them. So yes he can still get goals (though not as many as he should be), but being captain of such a big club should be a lot more than that. United needed someone to pick up the gauntlet on Sunday, and when your own captain cannot do that, what chance have you got?
And this is not to say he was solely to blame for Sunday’s collapse at The Emirates, as hardly anyone did anything worthy of wearing the United shirt, but when others are well below par, you’d expect the club captain to step up and do something about it. Instead we saw what was Rooney’s worst performance in a long time (yes, he was THAT bad).
Looking at positives (yes, there always are), at least United are still third after this game, on the same points as second placed Arsenal and only two points behind leaders Manchester City. Could have been much worse if we were in Chelsea’s position where they’re so far behind that any point dropped looks like a crisis. This defeat also came early enough for Louis van Gaal to do something about it, and though our squad is not exactly well equipped for the long winter ahead, he can definitely do better than field the team the way he did against such a fast playing side.
In other games in the league, City demolished sorry Newcastle 6-1, with Sergio Aguero scoring five goals to take them back to the top while the Geordies hit rock bottom; Pardew’s Palace beat Pulis’ West Brom 2-0 to go up to fourth; Leicester won 2-1 at Norwich to stay just three points behind the top; Sherwood’s Villa lost 1-0 at home to Stoke to leave them in the bottom three; Promoted sides Bournemouth and Watford played out a 1-1 draw; Sunderland threw away a two goal lead against West Ham, after which Dick Advocaat left his post; What turned out to be Brendan Rodgers’ last Merseyside derby finished 1-1; and Champions Chelsea lost at home again, this time 3-1 against Southampton, a game that gave Mourinho another excuse to have a seven minute long moan.
The news of the week seems to be the sacking of Brendan ‘the genius’ Rodgers from L’pool. Though not surprising, we all felt slightly sad as most of us thought he was doing a very decent job into turning such a historically successful club into a mid-table one. They might be getting Jurgen Klopp to manage them now, and though he will improve them simply because he’s a lot better than Rodgers, I doubt they’ll get as close to winning the league as they did two seasons ago, as quite a few of their players are just not good enough to do so.
As for Jose ‘the happy one’ Mourinho, his rants usually work when his sides are winning, but when you start criticising your own players publicly so frequently, you’re only making a stick for others (including the same players) to beat you with. Here’s hoping this continues.
Unfortunately there’s no domestic football this weekend, so we’ll have to wait an extra week before United and Van Gaal can right what went wrong against Arsenal. So let’s all have a relaxing weekend and keep our fingers crossed that all our players come back healthy from international duty. So until then, and as always… COME ON UNITED!!!