Going into this game, the focus was always going to be on Robin van Persie. Now, it is clear to see why he left.
Frankly, this was a lacklustre performance, against a massively superior team, and the result was generous to Arsenal. Ten man Arsenal, after Jack Wilshere received a second yellow card and was sent off in the second half, now lie nine points from the summit, which could be extended to 10, if Chelsea beat Swansea.
Things started poorly after Thomas Vermaelen failed to clear a poor cross from Rafael. The ball then dropped to RVP, on his weaker foot, who promptly finished low in the right hand corner. He didn’t celebrate. But again, frankly, who cares? Arsenal and the fans have to except that he’s gone, and clearly, based on today’s performance, onto bigger and better things.
United dominated the first-half whilst several Arsenal players were absent, notably Lukas Podolski and Aaron Ramsey. The logic of playing a central midfield on the right wing is difficult to understand. Andre Santos was clearly a weak link in the Arsenal back-line and this was exposed several times by Antonio Valencia and Rafael.
The lead should have been doubled when, just before half-time, Santi Cazorla was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box. However, Wayne Rooney failed to capitalise, allowing Arsenal to go into second-half only one down.
Arsenal did seem a little brighter in the second-half, with Olivier Giroud firing against the post from a tight angle. However, the killer punch came in the 67th minute when Patrice Evra headed in from close range beyond Vito Mannone, who only moments earlier had made an excellent save.
After this, the writing was on the wall, and things went from bad to worse when Wilshere was sent off for a second bookable offence. It was a cynical, clumsy tackle and, having already been warned by Mike Dean earlier, the referee had little option. Tom Cleverley, also having been on a yellow card and warned, was taken off by Alex Ferguson.
Arsene Wenger, perhaps through arrogance, or simply because there was no-one to replace him, made a poor choice in leaving Jack on the pitch.
Cazorla got a 93nd minute consolation goal, an excellent curling finish in the top corner. However, it was too little, too late for the boys in purple.
Overall, this was a toothless performance from The Gunners and serious questions now have to be asked about the future of the club.
Last season was a freak result. This season truly showed the ever widening gulf between the clubs.
Wenger recently said, judge us after ten games. This has been Arsenal’s worse start to a season under his management, even worse than last season.
Potentially, by Sunday afternoon, Arsenal could be lying in tenth position. As the fans chanted at the Reading game when we were 4-0 down – ‘we want our Arsenal back’.
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