Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’
For all the shit we have directed at Samir Nasri, some of it deserved, if the rumours linking him with a move to Old Trafford are true, and it’s something Fergie is working on behind the scenes, then I would be absolutely delighted.
What better way to stick two fingers up at one of our biggest title rivals, a team on the verge of implosion and about to abandontheir everything they hold dear in a summer transfer orgy, than to sign one of their best players?
More relevantly to us, what better way to show to the world that we mean business by signing a young, hungry player who offers creativity, work-rate and is a ready-made replacement for the player that Ryan Giggs has become?
Thanks, Wayne Rooney, for scoring a brilliant hat-trick to salvage three lost points for us at West Ham. Considering how crap he’s been for most of this season, and the first 60 minutes of the game on Saturday, this performance helps to mend yet more of the damage that he did when he held us to ransom.
Not all of it, but more of it.
His reaction to his third goal exemplified exactly why I struggle to feel the same I used to about Wayne Rooney. Two moments of brilliance and a clinically taken penalty to turn a game we had done our best to lose completely on its head were immediately overshadowed by a juvenile, hostile and downright offensive outburst.
It’s not the swearing that I have a problem with. I don’t give a fuck what he says, although I appreciate that parents of young children may feel differently. I swear like a trooper on the football pitch myself. It’s the hate that fills Wayne, the hostility which he seems to reserve for absolutely everyone who isn’t Wayne Rooney, including his own supporters. He’s just such a hard man to love.
There is passion, and then there is aggression. Wayne’s celebration was so far over the line of aggression as to be almost untrue. Gone is the enthusiastic young goal machine from Liverpool who said he loved the club and did everything in his power to prove that to the fans. Instead, we have a self-interested, self-important snarling nutcase, rich beyond his wildest dreams and completely out of touch with the fans. He’s had a bad season both personally and professionally, but he’s started banging in goals again.
This is what makes the case of Wayne Rooney so difficult for me to get my head around. I want to love him again. I really, really do, especially after he single-handedly won us a game that we had no right to. I just can’t. I don’t feel like I have anything in common with him. Not even the love for Manchester United that we all take for granted.
The comparison between the classy, cultured and understated Dimitar Berbatov is staggering. Although Wayne snatched the headlines, both good and bad, the man that turned the game was Berba. I have never in my life seen a player so composed on the ball, so aware of his team-mates and so easy on the eye. Some of the things Berba does make me laugh out loud at the screen. As others have pointed out, there is absolutely no coincidence in that fact that all of our goals came with him on the pitch.
If the rumours doing the rounds today, that Berba will be allowed to leave for any offer over £20m, are true then I will break down and cry. I will literally fall to pieces where I am sitting.
Ryan Giggs was so good at left-back that, having missed the first minute of the second half when I flicked over to check the cricket score, I didn’t at first realise that Evra had gone off and Giggs had filled in. He was up and down the flank, an attacking outlet and defensively solid. Yet another top class performance from a player that I am going to miss so, so much when he is gone.
Arsenal are bottlers, pure and simple. Chelsea have now dropped one point too many and nobody else is even in the hunt. It’s a little premature to claim 19, because it could still all go horribly wrong, but this weekend’s results could barely have gone any better for us.
Bring on Chelsea. Surely it’s time to beat them again?
It’s criminal that I have waited until now to pust a reaction peice to this game, given how brilliant it was, and how much there is to discuss. That’s what happens when you get ill, unfortunately. On the plus side, it’s given me a couple of days to chew over the game, and certain performances, and any jerking of the knee has long since calmed.
Without wanting to burst everyone’s balloon, we need to remember that this was just one game against the biggest bottlers of the Premiership era. Even Keegan’s Newcastle team only really bottled it once – Arsenal are serial bottlers, throwing away trophies left, right and center as soon as they are in any danger of winning them.
We will learn a lot more about how much we’re revitalized after the international break. Could it have come at a worse time? I fully expect us to ride the crest of the wave and sweep a crisis-torn Marseille side aside at Old Trafford and Bolton at the weekend, but we’d then absolutely love a run of Premiership games, thick and fast, to keep us interested, winning, and put the league beyond the reach of Arsenal and City.
Instead, we get to add a maximum of three Premiership points to our total before we have to watch a pointless England friendly against, of all people, Ghana, and what should be a walkover in qualification against Wales. Of course, given the privelage of seeing our Captain, Leader, Legend back in charge of the England side, so I should really be holding my tongue…
So, perhaps the most important game of the season now becomes our first game back, away at West Ham on Saturday lunchtime. Win that well, and we’re all set for the run-in. I can’t stress enough the importance of being clear by the time we have to play Arse and Chelsea.
Onto the Arsenal game itself. The first, and most obvious point, is that Fabio and Rafael were both absolutely outstanding. I think the fact that it was Tony who came on has let many people overlook the injustice of Fabio’s withdrawal at half-time, and I have no doubt that if Valencia wasn’t waiting in the wings for his comeback, he would have played most of the 90.
Fabio is showing the eye for goal that we were always told he had ever since Les Kershaw first slapped eyes on them. Both he and Rafael are also showing the versatility which will stand them in good stead at the club (case in point; John O’Shea) with their performance on the wing adding to Fabio’s stint in central midfield for the reserves, a position also occupied by Rafael for the first portion of the second half.
Most importantly, they add the same tenacity to the flanks as Park Ji-Sung does, but without sacrificing any of the attacking threat. Now, Park is far too good a player to consider shipping out, but Ferguson now has options as to who to play out wide when up against a Bale or Nasri figure. In addition, should Nani be injured, the flanks will have fluidity if the da Silvas occupy them, with Evra and Valencia both capable of filling both spots when the da Silvas push on or drop deep.
I can’t stress enough how promising the twin’s performances were, and quite how beneficial the increase in options we now have is.
I don’t want to upset my self by discussing this in too much depth, but Edwin van der Sar was awesome. I fully understand his decision to retire to look after his sick wife, and I’d prefer it if our fans let him be, because these chants asking him to stay can’t be helping.
It’s getting boring having to point this out every week, but Chris Smalling was again absolutely brilliant. Arsenal were restricted to a handful of second half chances, and you had to be paying rapt attention to notice the work of Smalling. Like all the great defenders he got everything done with the minimum of fuss, distributed well and restricted van Persie to just one chance in the first half.
Is it fair to suggest that normal service has now resumed from Wayne Rooney? The goals are flowing once again, his first touch is back, and he looks interested again. Keep it up Wayne. You’ll have to do an awful lot to win my affections back, but you’re certainly going the right way about it.
I’d also like to mention Darron Gibson, who was assured and capable in central midfield. In the absence of Carrick, I was fully expecting him to be scapegoated should we lose (even beyond the ranting that would have awaited Fergie for his team selection). Instead, Gibson looked comfortable on the ball and tenacious alongside the steady John O’Shea, who never looks overawed. Ever.
I was as horrified as the next man when I saw the team=sheet, but once again Fergie proves us all wrong. It was definitely an experiment, but it couldn’t possibly have gone any better. Roll on Tuesday.
I cannot even contemplate losing to Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool within what feels like mere days. FA Cup or not, this one is a must-win for us.
I probably sound like a broken record saying that every single week, but in this case it’s absolutely true. If you asked me normally, then I would say yes, games against Arsenal are always important but in this instance, we need to take a look at the bigger picture. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2002, an unfamiliar name on the European scene threatened to sweep all before them. Bayer Leverkusen, armed with the likes of Michael Ballack, Lucio and Ze Roberto, reached the final of the Champions League, the DFB-Pokal (German cup) and were five points clear at the top of the league going in to the Bundesliga’s closing three rounds.
Leverkusen had appeared in European competition for a few years prior, but 2002 was their year. Armed with the bitter disappointment of missing out on the league title on the final day of the season in 2000, they were on the cusp of greatness. Nobody has ever won a German treble.
History will remember them as Bayer Neverkusen, as they proceeded to surrender their lead to Borussia Dortmund by losing two of their last three games, lost the DFB-Pokal final 4-2 to Schalke and were swept aside by Real Madrid in the Champions League final, thanks in part to this goal.
The only mark they left on the record books was as the first side to reach a Champions League final having never won their domestic league. They have now descended once again into mid-table mediocrity.
Arsenal, likewise, could potentially have won four proper trophies this season, and came into the League Cup final expecting it to be the easiest leg of an unprecedented quadruple. After all, they do boast the world’s best striker. However, their failure to overcome a limited Birmingham side thanks to a hilarious error by Szczesny torpedos that dream.
Arsenal are clearly forgetting that they have to visit the Nou Camp next week. Not only that, they have to avoid defeat there to prevent half of their quadruple vanishing before their eyes in the space of ten days. They still need to get pay Leyton Orient, then us, then a presumably strong team in the semi-final should they beat us if they want to reach the FA Cup final. And let’s not forget that, although they have a game in hand, they are now four points off the Premiership pace.
After their season of failure, the Leverkusen side broke up, unable to bear the heartache any further. Michael Ballack and Lucio joined Bayern Munich where they developed a taste for silverware that has served them well later in their carrer. The talented Yildiray Basturk went off the rails, most recently washing up at Blackburn, where he made one appearance. Ulf Kirsten retired, and we all know what became of Dimitar Berbatov.
Is it really naughty to suggest that, should Arsenal fail to win anything this season, the likes of Fabregas will begin to look elsewhere for opportunities to fill their trophy cabinets?