We really needed those three points but do you think a draw was the fair result?
@Flannyballs - Football is a game built on fine margins, and tonight was the embodiment of that. On another night, van Persie takes his early chance, Valencia wanders off the line before clearing Koscielny’s header or one of Santi’s shots go in. In that context, I think any given result would have been ‘fair’. Put another way, I don’t think a draw was unfair.
@Limpar33 - In terms of the performances of both sides yes a draw was a fair result. But I can't help thinking it didn't have to be that way. There were to many sub par performances in that Arsenal side and we didn't put their defence under enough pressure, they were there for the taking.
@YankeeGunner - The draw was a fair result because we didn't do enough to take all three points. In midfield we were stagnant and often too careless in possession. During the first half of last season we were plagued by turnovers in midfield that lead to opposition goals. We've seen some of that return to our game of late and against United we were a little fortunate that they were unable to make us pay for those turnovers. United weren't very good. In fact they were mostly awful. They looked like a team not only lacking confidence but also lacking fight. Unfortunately we played timidly and as the game wore on we seemed every bit to be playing for a draw. Our lack of fight was encapsulated by the final two minutes of the match when we spent most of our time passing the ball back and forth on the halfway line.
In your opinion what were we missing to beat Manchester United tonight?
@Flannyballs - It’s easy to look for scapegoats, so that’s what I’ll do; the answer is ‘a better centre forward’.
I think people disbelieve me when I say I like Giroud, but I really do. He’s a good player. His combination play, whilst a bit off the pace last night, is usually excellent. He works selflessly. His finishing is not as terrible as some suggest. But I also really liked Kanu when he was at Arsenal, and I didn’t think he was good enough to be a first choice striker at that level either. So I don’t mean to denigrate Giroud, and I certainly don’t advocate selling him – he’s not dead wood or indeed any sort of arboreal byproduct – but I think we need more from our first choice front man.
@Limpar33 - The main ingredient we were missing in order to beat Utd tonight was the same as our other encounters against them...mentality. Far too often we've approached this fixture with apprehension and a lack of belief. This has also spread to games vs Chelsea and City, this worries me as they make up some of our remaining fixtures. This apparent lack of belief results in the sub par performances we saw on the pitch tonight. We also need a forward who can make runs in behind the defence, Man U had an ageing and off form CB partnership today and there was no one to put them under enough pressure. Overall there was a lack of penetration due to our movement in the final third.
@YankeeGunner - Against United we missed Ramsey's energy and Theo's pace. The latter was most glaringly absent. I thought Mesut Ozil was mostly excellent but every time he looked for options, there was no one making a run for him. When we had counter attacks, they were as uninspiring as you will see with players stopping in the final third rather than continuing their runs into the box. There was no one attempting to run in behind the United back four. Most of our attacking was done at a walking pace. A lot of that is because we have so many possession players and so few runners. But without Theo's pace, there was no one to give united a different puzzle to solve. It was almost as repetitive as their 81-cross effort against Fulham.
In hindsight, would you have made any changes to that starting 11?
@Flannyballs - Probably not; it’s not like we were overrun with alternatives. Rosicky and Wilshere were industrious but ineffectual, but before the event, I’d have advocated starting both. Poldi might have a reasonable claim to being our only viable cutting edge right now, but his recent performances have been a patchwork of good, mediocre and poor, and I don’t think anyone can suggest he had an immutable right to be starting this game.
@Limpar33 - Pre match I felt that Arsene had picked the best XI that were available to him. In hindsight I would've played the Ox in Wilshere's position, I know the balance doesn't seem correct but he could've rotated with Rosicky. Imo Wilshere had his poorest game in an Arsenal shirt today.
@YankeeGunner - I'm not sure I would have made changes to the starting 11. But I certainly would have made more than one substitute. There is no way that Jack Wilshere or Olivier Giroud should have played all 90 minutes. I'm a huge Jack Wilshere fan, as anyone who follows me on twitter or listens to me on podcasts will know. But he was poor Wednesday night. There's no reason why Ox couldn't have come on for him rather than Rosicky. As for Giroud, it's just not happening for him at the moment. His game is now entirely about holding the ball up and looking for teammates. He plays almost exclusively with his back to goal. And while there are aspects of his game that are very important for us, he often makes life too easy for the back four because they never have to worry about getting too close to him. He doesn't turn his defender and rarely looks for his own shot. As a center forward for a title contending side you have to be able to vary your approach and the handsome frenchman doesn't seem to be doing that at the moment. He can get on the end of crosses, but against United, he wasn't able to get his finishing right when those opportunities arose. If Giroud is going to continue to lead the line for Arsenal then he has to at least make the most of the clear cut chances he does get, and on the night he let 2 presentable chances go begging. I also think the Manager deserves some criticism for failing to make the substitutions. There were three strikers on the bench and the Manager opted not to use any of them, when a single goal always seemed enough to deliver 3 points. He, like the team, seemed more terrified of losing than motivated by winning. So in the end, he played it safe and got what he deserved. A nice, safe, draw.
Would you have brought Lukas Podolski on during the closing stages? If so who would you have replaced?
@Flannyballs - This is perhaps controversial, but I don’t see a lack of substitutions as the great source of controversy that some do. In fact, I think there are times, even when you are pressing for a result, that making a sub is probably a bad idea, or at least an unnecessary gamble with the side’s fortunes. Poldi could well have made the difference…but that could have been the case at either end. Making changes affects the dynamic of a game (that’s the whole point), and when they are as finely poised as last night, that can be to your detriment as well as your benefit. Perhaps bringing on Poldi might have lost us the game, who knows? The following point is that making a sub can disrupt your attacking flow. I think we were the side most likely to score in the final twenty minutes of the game, and you can reasonably argue that it was worth persevering as things were (although personally I think we could have played for another 4 years without scoring – it was one of those nights).
@Limpar33 - Yes I would've brought on Podolski, and it would've been a straight swap for Giroud as I thought Santi deserved to stay on in the closing stages.
@YankeeGunner - We should all stop discussing Podolski. He's off in the summer. He's getting the full-gervinho treatment now. I don't know why. It would be imporssible for me to guess. There are deficiencies in his game to be sure, but he can make some clever runs, delivers an excellent cross, and can score from outside the box. With the game drifting towards a dire nil-nil, he certainly would have been worth using. But the manager doesn't trust him or like him for reasons that are his alone to know.
Who disappointed the most in your opinion on the night?
@Flannyballs - There were a few poor performances, but I thought the biggest issue was an overall lack of team cohesion. The balance looked all wrong, so I’m plumping this one on Arsène. (I’m sorry Arsène, I love you, please still be my friend xx).
@Limpar33 - As mentioned previously, Wilshere was my biggest disappointment tonight. Many will pick Giroud as he was also poor but Wilshere started off most of Utd's attacks by giving the ball away. He needed to concentrate on not getting dispossessed every time he had the ball, let alone trying to start an attack for us. I've honestly never seen him that impotent in a match before.
@YankeeGunner - There weren't a lot of great performances beyond the back 5 and Mesut Ozil. Jack was mostly awful but I'll have to go with Giroud. He didn't take his chances when they came. And when he did get the ball on the edge of the area his only idea was to try mostly extravagant flicks and layoffs for teammates that weren't really in position.
Who was your Arsenal man of the match?
@Flannyballs - Big Woj Szczesny. And not just of last night, but of the season so far. The progress him and Ramsey have made over the last 12 months is testament to Wenger’s capabilities as a developer of high-level footballers. A superb save and an assured performance generally.
A word, too, for Mesut Özil, who was, is, and always will be, excellent. Anyone who says otherwise is stupid and grotesquely ugly. His recent performances have been a bit disappointing given how much he cost, but he’s still been one of our better players this year, in what has been a pretty good season to date, one or two hiccoughs notwithstanding. It’s easy to forget that some of our best players in recent history – Bobby Pires, Thierry Henry – have started relatively slowly, and that some of our most impactful big signings – Arshavin, Reyes – have ended up not really working out. So what I’m saying is, if you think he’s been rubbish, I disagree; and even if I’m wrong on that point, players deserve more than an initial six month flurry to prove themselves.
@Limpar33 - My Man of the match would be Koscielny, he remained professional and did his job despite the other performances around him.
@YankeeGunner - You could give it to Per or Kos or Szczesny. Sagna was pretty good too and Ozil was excellent. But I'll go with Kieran Gibbs. He ran hard all night. Showed up at both ends of the pitch. And made some crucial interceptions. Considering that he had lost his place to Monreal for reasons that not everyone seemed to understand, I think he did a fantastic job slotting back in and showing that the left-back position should be his to keep.
Lastly, at full time there were some boos from the home support. What is your view of this?
@Flannyballs - I wasn’t there, so it would be remiss of me to criticise those who were. I’m certainly not going to proselytise about it. But booing at games isn’t for me. I don’t think it’s productive or conducive to producing the better results we all want to see. Each to their own, though.
@Limpar33 - I think the booing is ridiculous, yes it's a missed opportunity, but look at the bigger picture, we're 2nd and 1 point behind 1st. We wanted to compete this year and we are, so why not fully support your team? Failing to support your team let alone undermining them is nonsensical at best.
@YankeeGunner - It's not my place to tell paying fans how to behave. Football is about emotion. It's disappointing not to heap some misery on United this season. It's their worst season in 2 decades and we have let them take 4 points from us. I can understand the boos based on that and the generally insipid performance. It's never nice to boo, but it's also unrealistic to expect the paying supporters not to vent some frustration in the heat of the moment.
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