Wednesday, December 15, 2010

United 1-0 Arsenal: Out-Thought and Out-Fought

Arsenal lost a tactical and a physical battle on Monday night. This incarnation of Manchester United is far from the most sophisticated but they consistently come out on top against the Gunners: Ferguson has found Wenger out.

While tactics have never been Wenger's strong point, the lack of physical presence in the Arsenal team is very worrying. As I've said before, Wenger's successes have been based as much on power as on technique. These days, his team is made to look feeble against United and Chelsea.

Alex Song is, supposedly, the closest thing this Arsenal side has to an "enforcer". Late in the game, he was brushed aside by Patrice Evra- one of United's more diminutive players. The same Patrice Evra who was confident enough in United's superiority to insult Arsenal BEFORE the game this time!

Were his harsh words used as motivation in the away dressing room? There were many fouls by Arsenal, but not enough winning of the ball, United first to every 50-50, still looking like they want it more, despite being a team who've won it all, playing against a team who've won fuck-all.

Arsenal have nothing to match the tenacity of Fletcher, the running power of Anderson, Park and Nani. United have a rock-solid defence whereas Arsenal have a charitable one.

But it's not as simple as Arsenal lacking United's robust element: Arsenal's passing game is grossly overrated. They barely put a move together in the entire game. Wenger indulged in a bit of trademark excuse-making afterwards, which doesn't even deserve discussion. The pitch was bad, yes. So what? Will United be complaining after the next encounter that the pitch was "too good" for their game? Probably not, because they'll have won the match.

Bottom line: No Surprises. United win big games, and Arsenal lose them.

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