I’m normally here after a big loss ranting and raving. However, after the game on Saturday, I took drinking to the next level to numb the pain. I upset my girlfriend, my friends, the waiter and spent all of today on the Justin Bieber apology tour.
The United game was a real rarity. A game that we genuinely dominated, yet came away with nothing. Glorious failure is usually tinged with a sarcastic undertone, not yesterday. We were robbed and there’s no way of packaging that result any other way.
Sure, we could talk about Arsene Wenger tanking in the big games, but for me, that result was far beyond his control.
He set the team up perfectly, even playing the first selection mind games I can remember. The introduction of the ‘injured’ Lacazette was a masterstroke. It put the players in a good state of mind and worked wonders for the home fans.
The result boiled down to two very poor individual errors. Laurent Koscielny does not play passes that wild. Mustafi is not usually that terrible on the ball under pressure. Both players are in peak form. Both let themselves down horrendously.
We didn’t cave under the pressure. We were up for the fight. We delivered some exceptional football that thrilled. There were legitimate penalty shouts, we hit the woodwork, we missed chances we’d normally bury and we were totally stitched up by one of the best keeping performances of the season.
One of the major gaps in class came in midfield. Paul Pogba is an outrageous talent. He’s two players. He is the perfect specimen of a Premier League footballer. He has pace, he has rangy telescopic legs and he has brutal strength. Combine that with his intelligence, pace of thought, outrageous skill/vision, and he’s basically unstoppable. He dominated us when he was given possession and he was ultimately the difference for United going forward. £90m well spent.
What can you say for Arsenal? Jody Morris of all people put it perfectly when he said no team has a game plan that allows for 71% possession and 31 attempts on your own goal. Arsenal were utterly dominant, and really, if not for the genius of De Gea, could have come away with 4-5 goals. For all the money United have spent this season, they were embarrassingly poor. They couldn’t live with us.
Arsenal lost, yes, I understand this. But be real – remembering here that I am the most miserable of Arsenal fans – we were excellent and that game cannot simply be chalked up as Arsenal bottling it on the big stage. That was a freak result we didn’t deserve, and I hope the team take the lessons of 100% concentration being a requisite for games like that. We were punished for mistakes from players that don’t normally make them.
Mesut Ozil showed up and proved my pregame worries wrong. Aaron Ramsey was a machine all game and dropped his 7th assist of the season. Xhaka is still struggling to find his groove and was found wanting for the 3rd United goal.
I thought Alexis was a f*cking disgrace. He needs to be packaged up and moved on. Losing the ball 34 times is beyond the pale. He just doesn’t give a fuck. He hasn’t the whole year, he plays for himself like he’s propping up Portsmouth. He’s selfish, wasteful and it’s just not worth the pain and despair (5 goals). Mesut is playing well because there’s no demand for him… Sanchez knows City are coming back, so he’s sauntering round the office, whisky in hand, like he doesn’t have a care in the world. How would yesterday have panned out if he’d been focused like he was in 2015?
… and that’s where I’ll finish. A total contradiction of a post.
As much as I take a lot from that result, it’s hard not to land on it being an amalgamation of failings from the club over the past 10 years. Xhaka continues to keep his place in the side, despite making horrendous errors on the regular. Sanchez has been a liability all season, but Wenger just can’t quit him. We’ve had a problem of individual errors and lapses in concentration for 10 years now.
Today was just a better version of losing.
We need to change the record. Wenger is consistent at not being good enough when it comes to the biggest games. He’s unlikely to ever change that now, and it’s unlikely this side is going to get any better in the second half of the season when players start switching off thinking about preserving their bodies for the World Cup or their next move.
I take a lot of pride in that performance, but I take no pleasure in writing about the same old core issues. We’re simply never going to be good enough under Arsene Wenger. We need a change, and it needs to happen next summer.
We’re recording a podcast this morning, see you a bit later with that!
UPDATE: Podcast below