Gunners 1-3 Manchester United

=== Colossal Match ===

For 'merkins not yet familiar with the Beautiful Sport, here's another little factoid to catch yer attention ... in Forbes' Top 10, the #1 most valuable sports franchise in the world is Manchester United's soccer team.  They're listed at $1.8 billion, and actually sold in 2005 for $1.45 billion.  (The Yankees are worth $1.3 billion and, IIRC, next is Boston at $800 mills or so.)

Man U has won, I think, 13 of 19 Premier League championships, Arsenal 3, Chelsea 2 and Blackburn 1.  So England's in the middle of a 1930's Yankee-style domination.

Arsenal is at their best this year, was playing at home ... and Man U has lost 5 of 23 matches so far.  Gooners fans had high hopes for a serious challenge. 

No such luck.


=== Nani Opens the Scoring ===

After a fairly even first 30 minues, United winger Nani found himself bracketed up the right flank by two Arsenal defenders and the sideline.

He marvelously flicked the ball between the two of them, hopped between their legs, and took off.  ... another Gooner stepped up to challenge, but Nani flicked the ball to the defender's back left corner and went around him.

10 yards out but on the endline, Arsenal keeper Almunia squared off against Nani who, artistically, nipped under the ball to loft it 10-12 feet high and just inside the back post.  Almunia skied for the ball, but just barely brushed it, and it was 1-0 Man U.  (Preposterously, soccer rules designate this an "own goal.")

The best goal I've seen in the Premier League this year, and it underlines Arsenal's problem:  wonderful method but shy on creativity.  Chelsea had also come into the Emirates and beaten the Gunners 3-0 on their own pitch, precisely because of two spectactular goals by Didier Drogba.

Maybe Portuguese star Nani really is the next Christiano Ronaldo.


=== Rooney 2-0 ===

Only four minutes later, Rooney took a ball at his own 30, pirouetted, and zipped the ball down the sideline to a streaking teammate like Tom Brady hitting Randy Moss on a fly pattern.  A Fabregas-level pass.

Rooney then charged 70 yards up the middle like a man with lighter fluid on his game trousers, blowing through three backpedaling Arsenal defenders, and took a return pass at the 16-yard line.

He didn't even need to two-touch it.  He deflected the pass crisply by Almunia directly to the left post, perhaps netting the SECOND best goal I've seen in the Premiership this year.


=== Work To Do ===

Pains me to say it, but the Gunners were left looking like an overcoached basketball team -- wonderful screens, weaves, and passing, but no shooting to speak of.

Arsenal is the best team in the world between the 18-yard boxes, but too often against great teams this does not translate to quality shots on goal...

Wenger lives by the no-man-is-bigger-than-the-team concept and dies by it.  Chelsea and Man U do not play keep-away triangles in the midfield.  They bring the ball forward with the idea of scoring the ball, and that's what they do...


=== Quote of the Day ===

We've talked before about Arsenal's scary-quick, diminutive players -- Andrei Arshavin is perhaps 5 foot 3.  But did BBC's Lee Dixon have to refer to the Gunners as "Oompa-Loompa's"?  :- )


=== Next Up ===

Arsenal's next two are against fellow Big Four rivals Chelsea and Liverpool, so they have a chance to get back.   They'll need to.  Like the Cardinals' crushing of the Seahawks at QWest in 2009, Sunday's game left Arsenal's entire future in question.

Big game next Sunday vs. Chelsea.


Dr D



does that site have highlight tapes like that often?!
The reel sort of made Arsenal's chances look maybe better than they were IMHO... not sure if that makes any sense, but the chances were quite forced and the shots not particularly promising...
Tremendous performance from Man U.  How did you like that charge down the middle from Rooney?!


Never played soccer me-self.  Just now coming to appreciate a bit of the game, but it still takes a star-power matchup to hold my interest for 90 mins :- )
Hope you can chime in frequently and correct us where we're off...

Anonymous's picture

Arshavin had two golden opportunities to make "one more pass" to ensure a better scoring chance. Both these chances happened in the first 5 minutes of the match.  Two points: One, the game could have went a totally different direction if one of those two chances was a goal. Secondly, it can be quite the morale buster when your teammate refuses to make the obvious pass after you have gotten yourself in position. Contrast his play with the "reward" pass that Rooney got when he made his incredible charge 70 yards towards the goal. When everyone is involved, the results are usually better.
Most the analogies used above could easily have described a key basketball play. However, in soccer, you don't usually get so many chances to do the right thing/make the right play. Mistakes in soccer have much larger consequences.
Instead of the result of this one game, I would be more worried about the effect of Arshavin's choices on future matches. His teammates need to know that he is more concerned with the number of goals scored by his team, not how many come off his own feet.
As for the video site, I stumbled upon it in order to see why you said what you did. Thank you for "leading me" to this great site. I do not get to watch much soccer (no cable). But, now, I can get a fix when I need one.
As for the number of shots (20 vs. 12), Arsenal actually had a lot more chances. And, yes, many were forced as you pointed out. However, I would much rather be a team with many chances that occasionally results in few goals than a team with a few precious chances to convert.


I'm immediately reminded of one of the things that irks me about pro soccer: the giant corporate logos emblazoned on player's jerseys. If someone didn't know better, they would think that was Team AIG (which now looks bad in more ways than one).

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