Games (vs. Arsenal 2-1)
A lot of talking points about this game but let’s start with Arsene Wenger. After Eduardo’s blatant midweek dive against Celtic Wenger still came out & defended his man. Nothing new as Wenger usually backs his players even when the evidence is to the contrary. By his own admission Wenger recently stated in an interview he has turned a blind eye over the years to protect his players. Not only does it make Wenger look daft but it encourages his players to keep behaving in the same manner. A case in point: Eboues attempt to get Wes Brown sent off by pathetically diving under no challenge at all in the second half. Eboue was rightfully booked for his theatrics whilst Wenger was made to look like a clown after being sent off in the last minute. Wenger has since accused United of ‘anti-football’ which is a joke when the Londoners ended up with more yellow cards. Shifting focus to the game itself the Gunners played well & United were a bit fortunate to get the victory courtesy of Diaby’s own goal. But the official match stats showed United with 58% ball possession & 5 shots on target compared to Arsenals 3. Tactically what started out to be a 4-3-3 turned out to be a 4-5-1 with Rooney being isolated & crowded out by the Arsenal back four. Arshavin’s screamer put Arsenal ahead but Foster should have done better simply because he managed to get two hands to it. He made a crucial save early in the second half & kept United in it. Fletcher & Carrick lost possession far too often they just could not keep the ball effectively & invited a constant wave of Arsenal pressure. Ryan Giggs also guilty of losing the ball on the break somewhat fulfilled his playmaking role with a hand in both goals. Fergie’s vote of no confidence to Berbatov starting the game was disappointing. The Bulgarians wayward finish on goal from Nani’s excellent cross field pass in added time summed up the overall performance.
After the international break its Tottenham away at White Hart Lane. This fixture has thrown out a couple of classics over the years with United often coming up trumps. Spurs have been showing off some exciting flowing football with 4 wins from 4. Modric & Palacious have made a big difference in midfield. The impressive Palacious was a United target last season. Defoe has looked prolific & there will be plenty more to come from Keane & the skillful Aaron Lennon who has genuine pace to hurt opposition. Spurs could well crack a champion’s league spot under the savvy leadership of Harry Redknapp. They have players with ability coming off the bench in Pavlyuchenko, Crouch, Jenas & Bentley. However a couple of signings on deadline day added to the possible move of Bentley to City & injuries to a few key players will reveal their quality & depth as Woodgate, King, Modric & Keeper Gomes are all on the treatment list.
With the transfer window closed I’m disappointed United didn’t attempt to sign an established midfielder. We clearly lack that quality in the center which showed against Burnley & Arsenal. The amount of times Fletcher looses possession in midfield is just shocking, he seems incapable of making even simple passes. Forget about being able to score a few goals as he missed a sitter against the Arsenal in the opening exchanges, this guy needs to be put back into the youth team so that he can learn to pass properly. He is a Floppin waster. Yet Sir Alex sticks by his fellow Scotsman. Hargreaves might be back in training by the end of the month & I certainly hope he stays injury free & displaces Fletcher permanently from the squad! Anyway United scouts have been checking out Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard currently applying his trade with Lille in France. The 18 year old can play center midfield or in wide positions. Rio Ferdinand could return earlier for first team action targeting the Manchester derby in 3 weeks time.This game is bound to be a cracker given all the pre season wind ups & City’s emergence as a potential footballing super power. Finally Edwin Van Der Sar picked up the UEFA Club Goal Keeper of the year award for 2008/9.