Wednesday 29 April 2009

The Battle of Old Trafford

The team line ups are as follows:

Manure: Van Der Saar, OShea, Vidic Ferdinand, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Anderson, Fletcher, Rooney, Tevez

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Silvestre, Gibbs, Walcott, Song, Diaby, Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor

It looks like 4-5-1s times two. It will be interesting to see if Nasri or Fabregas plays deep, personally I hope it is Cesc in the deeper role. The one thing that concerns me is our lack of strength at centre back, compared to United's first choice pairing we can only field a fourth choice player in Mikel Silvestre. Get stuck in boys and let's sock it to them. Come on you Gunners.

First half update:

We are lucky to only be one nil down at half time. Largely thanks to Manuel's heroics we are still in the game. Our freshly concocted back four did not look at home at all early on, large gaps appeared down the right flank and Ronaldo found far too much space several times. The goal saw O'Shea and two other United players left in acres at the back stick as the ball was cut back, even O'Shea couldn't miss. Alumunia had already saved brilliantly from Rooney's header, he then did more of the same for a Ronaldo header. Positively we did come into the game in the second quarter, we seemed to press United a bit better and managed to hold onto the ball a bit better.

Tactically I am distinctly disappointed with the starting line up. If you are to play 4-5-1 then you must have pace on both flanks, we only have Walcott on the right, Diaby did well considering, but he does not give a side width or directness in attack. I also feel that with 4-5-1 you must not only have this pacey support for your striker, but you must have someone from the midfield trio supporting the striker and that player must have a bit of pace.

Cesc is a great player but he is very one paced, so when he breaks onto dangerous passes or knock downs he is much easier to defend against that someone with a bit of pace, a Nasri for example. I am perplexed that Nasri is playing so deep, even if his long term future is in this role, something I do not think for that matter, then to plunge him into this role in such a big game when he has played it so rarely in the past is bizarre, if not stupid. Arsene would do better to stick Diaby in the middle and Nasri on the left if he is to insist on the 4-5-1. I think that Arsene needs to change something fairly early in the second half, otherwise this game may drift out of our reach.

Seccond half:

There were some positives from the second half, in particular I think the defense and Alex Song were outstanding. The most obvious negative was the pathetic performance and lack of effort from Adebayor, he lost the ball time and time again, completely unable to hold it up, never working hard to win it back and doing very little when he did retain the ball at his feet. The game was very even, the best effort came from Ronaldo whose thirty yarder smashed off the top of the bar with Almunia beaten, Bendtner had our best chance, his header would have been a goal if he had got a more minimal glancing contact on the ball. Otherwise we huffed and puffed without creating much.


Arsene's tactics make no sense. Our only attacking threat was Walcott, Diaby gave us no width, while the only man who could have given us width on the left, Nasri, was played in a holding midfield role. Fabregas looks completely lost playing behind the striker, he doesn't have the pace for this role and his overall game is suited to a deeper role. Worryingly Adebayor was awful and his lack of effort is inexcusable. The substitutions were strange, Walcott being replaced by Bendtner, although it was good to see Eduardo coming on and looking very sharp.

We really need to get the tactics right in the second match and frankly I'd rather see us go down trying to win the game than playing in such a negative and unthreatening manner. Kolo and Silvestre defended well at centre back for the majority of the game, while Gibbs grew into the game and excelled for such an inexperienced youngster. Song was outstanding, excellent on the ball, winning tackle after tackle in a congested midfield area, his progress this season has been immense. A mention should go to the ref who was brilliant, letting the game flow and ignoring many a Manure dive.

So Arsene, if you are reading which I very much doubt, sort out the tactics, we should at least go down with our guns blazing.


Rhinogooner said...

The way Man U is lined up, I feel we could punish them if we attack them from wide areas. Nasri should be able to skin O'Shea all night. Problem is, Walcott is the only player we have that doesn't cut inside before he gets to the 18 yard box. And none of our players actually get into the box to create havoc and get onto potential crosses.

Maybe Gibbs can get to the bye line. But we need players who are willing to take a chance crashing into the box.

1979gooner said...

spot on Rhino.

As I have updated, the lack of width on our left is a real problem, I hope he switches Nasri left in the second half.

Anonymous said...

thanks Almunia.


Ajay said...

That was a pathetic performance. A total lack of ambition. Why does that guy have to calculate so much. They could have scored another 1 but we would have got an away goal as well. Why be afraid......................

Total bullshit

Anonymous said...

why u dont trust the midfield??????????

U got a guy call Fabregas...If he is good to control the midfield, give him the job.. if he is good enough to play in the hole, gve him the job... if he is not good for that...DROP him...

You had Eduardo who could have played there. What was Diaby doing on the pitch...

We might as well have lost against Villareal.. We do not seserve to be playing this SF. Its a disgrace.

Rhinogooner said...

Wow, that really felt like a battering. 1979's report sums it up well for me.

I also wanted to remember to acknowledge the excellent performance by the ref. Not a terribly difficult match to call, but many other referee's would have made foolish decisions.

Almunia was immense. I had never been convinced by him prior to this season. But I will stand up and freely admit that he has become a tremendous keeper. I am very happy to have him and I feel secure enough that I don't feel we need to sign another keeper to replace him.

Man U's movement reeked havoc and defensively, we looked at sea a few times. They really could have scored several more but didn't, though that is not a credit to our defenders (Almunia aside). The gulf in class is obvious between the two sides defensively. And I will reiterate my opinion that we need to sign at least one world class brute of a CB this summer. No, Toure and Silvestre weren't awful, but they didn't cope calmly and made me nervous every time the ball was nearing our box.

But credit to Man U, they were superb. They wanted it more and put in far more effort than we did. They deserved to beat us more handily than the scoreline shows. They always seem to have a player available and every loose ball seems to fall close to one of their players. And every time we made a pass, it seemed like there were two or three of their players around the Arsenal player with the ball. Every time we looked up, there was a wall of defenders in front of us. They really know how to play at this level far better than we do. But we used to be at that level.

Fortunately, the match is still in dispute and we can overcome them at home. But we really need a performance from our lads that surpasses any of the performances they have put in so far this season. I hope Mr. Wenger is up to it....

Last comment, even though 1979 mentioned it, I can't move on without commenting. No intention of offending Ted, but Adebayor was absolute pants tonight. I really hoped he would show me I'm wrong about him. But he did not. He was lazy and ambivalent. I will openly defend a forward when they are on their own up front and aren't getting any service. But how could any of our players provide him with service when he was sedentary for the entire match. When he actually did receive a pass, he would miscontrol it immediately and we would have to strive to win possession back again. He doesn't pull defenders out of position. How many times do you see us in possession in final third and there are three or four players ahead of him??? He doesn't lead out attack. When we surge forward through the middle with the ball, he drifts out wide instead of occupying the attention of a CB. He makes it too easy for them to defend. Ferdinand and Vidic barely worked tonight. Useless. I say we get shot of him. I know I'm being harsh, but I really don't like players with his attitude. I want fighters in my team. Players who would run through a brick wall to get on the end of a move or to stop the opposition from scoring. It's all about personal glory for him. He plays like a dunce and I'll have Eduardo and Bendtner ahead of him for the rest of the season.

Drew said...

In defense of Arsene and his tactics, Hiddink and Chelsea played dour, stale football for their entire semi-final, and Hiddink is being hailed as a genius. So Arsenal didn't come out and win 2-0; that wasn't Arsene's plan and you can't reasonably hope for a scoreline like that on a European night away. He wanted to get back to the Emirates with a chance at winning the TIE. After the first thirty minutes, ManU barely got a chance. Yes, Almunia saved us (proof that he is a quality keeper); that's the purpose of goalkeepers.

Also, I would also find it difficult and discouraging if I had to play as a lone striker against the best center back pairing in the world. My teammates are playing conservatively, so making hundreds of off the ball runs when the ball obviously isn't coming is pointless. So Adebeyor didn't score a wonderous overhead kick after a sublime chest control.

I do agree when Cesc not playing in the hole anymore. He's a distributor, and if has only one striker to aim for, his influence wanes.

Have faith; we're only 1-0 down.

1979gooner said...


I agree, it's not the defensiveness that is my main complaint, it's playing people in positions they have barely played before in such a big game.

The Nasri and Cesc roles were bizarre and untried/tested.

Obsinho said...

Playing lone striker is always tricky when you don't get service. But you make it harder by not being alert as soon as we are in possession, moving off your defender or spinning him. It may be pointless to run&runrun&runrun&runrun&run when you're not getting the ball, but that is what the position demands. And Ade didn't and doesn't understand this. He is not a target man, he is a big unit, but that doesn't mean we can play him as a target man on his own.

On the laziness thing, I personally thought Ade showed a bit more motivation than he is being credited for. Diaby however was piss-poor.

I couldn't work out where he had been told to play - he didn't help Gibbs when O'Shea was on the overlap, he didn't overlap when we had the ball wide left, he seemed to always be drifting inside both narrowing our own game and offering space to Ronaldo & his decision making on the edge of our box was suicidal at times. Personally I have had enough of it. He may have more tricks than Denilson, and may be a foot taller, but the little brazillian tries his hardest from first whistle to the last. That in itself is not enough to warrant a place in the Arsenal team, but it is an absolute bare minimum requirement.

Ted said...

I tend to agree with Obs. Reading around the blogs this morning, you would have thought we got the 3-0 stuffing we deserved. We didn't, we only lost by one goal, and the good performance that we always knew was needed at the Emirates can still get us through. We are not out of this.

Alumunia, Song and Gibbs can be proud of what they did. Song or Rooney were the best players out there last night. Gibbs was great for someone so young and inexperienced, and given fuck all protection by the lanky cunt-bag that is Diaby.

Sagna did not do enough against Rooney. Sagna was good last season but has actually been slightly disappointing this time around. Fat Wayne will come inside 100% of the time. He is very predictable and good defenders can deal with him most of the time. Sagna let him come inside every time. Yes, Rooney played well, but Sagna didn't do enough in my book.

Toure and Sylvestre did ok. Crap defending for their goal, but Kolo was trying to get forwards when he could.

The rest of the midfield was a disaster. Nasri did ok but is completely wasted in that central position. Theo did not get a kick all night. Ade has got a lot of stick in the last 14 hours, most of it fair, but our big outlet was Theo down the right, but we were utterly shite down the right. Sagna and Theo lost the battle in that part of the pitch.

Diaby. What the fuck he is doing on the pitch in the first place? Another big mistake by Arsene Wenger. Then he played in a free role, offered fuck-all going forwards, fuck-all protection for Gibbs, and did his best to give it to Manure. Total cretin. And Wenger gets the blame for picking him.

Fabregas. Or Cesc Gotnogas. Completely wasted in the advanced role. Having watched Iniesta and Xavi against Chelsea, Cesc is miles off the pace at the moment. I have said it before and I will say it again. If Wenger does not believe that Cesc can play central midfield, then Wenger should drop Cesc. Plain and simple.

Adebayor. Not impressed but don't agree he was that bad. Its a suicide mission against Ferdinand and Vidic. Bendnter was just as shit when he came on, Theo did virtually nothing.

This is another nail in the coffin of 4-5-1. Wenger has to accept it doesn't work like this. We were a mess yesterday. Manure played well, but we were proper shite. 1979's explanation of how to make 4-5-1 work is absolutely spot on.

Unless we play 4-4-2 at the Emirates then we are fucked.

Obsinho said...

We are still in it, but I am again losing Wenger's ability to call the big games correctly.

The last 4 years have been populated with near misses, where we could have achieved more if we had approached certain games with moe hunger. Very, very rarely have we gone into a big game with a clear hunger communicated by Wenger to the team to play our football and impose ourselves.

SO my real wish is that we play 442, and Wenger makes the players out there play with passion, confidence and hunger. We blew our chances in the FA cup, and we have wasted the first half of the CHampions League. 3rd time lucky this season Arsene........

Ted said...

Does anyone know where this 4-5-1 came from? Obs and I discussed it over our 11th pint last night, and we thought it started in the 2006 Champs League run with Henry up top and Reyes on the wing. Is that right?

The midfield behind the strikers in 2006 was Cesc and Gilberto in the middle, Freddie on the left, Hleb on the right. (Pires was injured but would have played wide left). God that looks a good midfield at the moment.

But we played 4-5-1 because Reyes was shite in the air, liked the ball to his feet, and got a bit more space down the left. We fit the system to the players, not the other way round. The only other striker at the club at the time was Bergkamp, who was 108, but still the best passer in the team. And when Dennis played, it was 442.

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to leave talented strikers on the bench, such as Bendnter and Eduardo, so that we can accomodate a shite-bag like Diaby in the team.

Can I now officially declare that I have lost confidence in Wenger's team selections?

Obsinho said...

I think so - I am giving him the return leg to rectify the mistakes of Wembley and Old Trafford.

I fully expect to see Diaby start, Ade on his own and a 5 man midfield though!

1979gooner said...

Interesting comments.

It's hard to be harsh about players who were played out of position, ie nasri and cesc.

I agree on Diaby.

Ade was not good enough, his touch and hold up play was nowhere near good enough, I'm not sure just how much was effort related, I just feel he didn't do enough.

The 4-5-1 formation is shit if you don't have the playes for it.

Agree 100% with Ted, why the hell not play 4-4-2 with Bendtner or Eduardo with Ade, Diaby did so little both defensively and offensively we would not have missed him, mind you nasri and cesc did very little as well. Song was the best midfielder by a mile. Thought Walcott showed some brightness in the first half and then faded, I'd have still left him on, though.

Si said...

Thank God for the Spaniard. We were awful, truly piss poor. My least favorite player, Song, was the only outfielder to be able to leave the pitch with his head held high.
Gibbs has the excuse of youth and inexperience on his side so he cannot be blamed, but he got fucked on a few occasions, although reading most blogs today you would have thought he was man of the match.
Diaby was a liability, he should have been taken off at half time. Eduardo should have started the second half playing in the hole, Nasri put wide and Cesc playing in the deeper role in central midfield next to Song. 442, we would have slowed the attack of Manure, not completely of course, but we would have stemmed the tide a little. 451? A great formation if you know how to play it, we sadly do not.
Lucky as fucky. And then some.