I was slightly surprised to see Bendtner left on the bench, Eboue retained his place after a fine performance in the week, while the midfield trio of Denilson, Diaby and Song played with Cesc missing out due to injury. Manu started with the lone striker Rooney flanked by the irritating Nani and the expensive Valencia. The game started as it continued with Arsenal domination.
United were poor, they could not retain the ball, but this was largely down to our excellent work of the ball, we pressed them high up the pitch, every single one of our eleven was defending for the team. Manu were allowed to get away with murder by the weak Dean. They committed several fouls early on, of particular note a nasty late kick to Eboue's knee by Carrick and an out of control late lunge by Evra, without any cards being dished out. Surprise surprise and Song got the first yellow of the game. Gallas was then handed a yellow when Evra dived into him on the edge of the box, while RVP picked up another yellow for a decent tackle. Evra did eventually get a yellow for his third foul, but Carrick and Fletcher were allowed to foul with impunity. Arshavin was denied the most clear of penalties later on in the half, as he teed himself up for a shot, Fletcher lunged in with a straight leg, he got none of the ball, took Arshavin out and then hand balled it for good measure, the wimp Dean waved play on.
There were not many chances in the first half, RVP had a decent effort deflected wide after a neat turn inside the box. From the subsequent corner Arshavin was only inches away from finding the top corner with a well controlled side footer. Arshavin's goal was awesome, just after he had been turned down a clear penalty, he picked it up thirty yards out and turned, a quickly lifted up his muscular hammer like right leg and let fly, giving Foster no chance from around twenty five yards out.
One nil ahead and it was well deserved Manu were simply not at the races. Diaby, Denilson and Song had done well in the middle, Eboue had also put in a good stint, my one criticism would be that we didn't quite turn our domination into as many chances as we could have. The second half saw a great early chance for us, Arshavin skinned defenders down the left and centred low for RVP who hit a neat low left footed effort at goal, Foster looked beaten, but somehow he stretched his left leg to it and kept it out. A big moment no doubt but not the turning point for me. Eboue also had a great chance as he stole in at the far post but miscontrolled when he should have tried a first time effort.
The key moment of the game was the 'penalty'. Of note the referee was miles away, at least twenty yards from the action, so how he can be sure of such a decision is beyond me. Giggs put a nice ball through for Rooney who got a yard on Gallas, the mistake Almunia made was deciding to come because Rooney was going nowhere. Rooney took a touch, in fact an awful touch that had pretty much gone out for a goal kick, Almunia slid through leading with his hands but did largely pull out of the challenge, all in all a very similar challenge to the Celtic keeper's in midweek. Rooney dived way before any contact was made, his knee was at the level of the grass before he was clipped by Almunia, it was a penalty of the softest variety.
When one sees it in the context of the Eduardo 'cheat' storm of the week then one can only conclude that there is an incredible amount of denial and bias around the English media. Rooney's record of diving is embarrassing, he has dived blatantly for penalties time, time, and time again. It's funny how those on Sky didn't even question Dean's decision, it was stonewall to them. I find it hard to find words to describe the lack of media objectivity in analysing these kind of decisions, the contrary reactions to the Eduardo and Rooney dives says more than I can. At least some papers are making it clear it was not a penalty, but this is far as it will go, we shall see none of the vitriol that we saw directed at Eduardo, after all Rooney is a fine upstanding Englishman, he has the pleasant hobbies of having sex with prostitutes and getting drunk.
Manu were not good enough to get a second goal themselves, so we did it for them courtesy of a truly awful Diaby own goal, I really don't know what he can have been thinking. Diaby had a very good game though and I hope that no one gets on his back for this poor error. He almost made amends with a powerful run, he broke through to the keeper but slightly miscued the shot and it flew agonisingly wide. It was hard to take being 2-1 down and this showed, I don't think we ever really showed enough composure having gone behind. Our build up play was rushed, we tried too hard and didn't show enough patience. Manu created their one shot on goal as Evra forced a good low save to Almunia's left. RVP hit a lovely free kick firmly against the cross bar with Foster nowhere. At the death Dean had time to rule out a goal for a Gallas offside. Gallas was just offside but he didn't header the ball down, it was a Manu player who got the touch before RVP finished, it was the right decision but if it had been Manu at the other end it wouldn't have surprised me if it had been given and then justified by the disgraceful retards on Sky.
Arsene had the audacity to kick a water bottle and was then sent to the stands, cue much mirth from the Arsenal hating media, in fact it's been an excellent distraction to the fact that Rooney dived as Eduardo did in the week. The actions of Dean and his weener assistant smack of officials who no intention of being fair or objective, they are small minded officious tossers with clear vested interests as they showed yesterday. I'm still rather angry, in fact I'm taking regular time outs from this post to head butt the wall, it's hard to take defeat when we completely outplayed the opposition and were done over by a combination of awful refereeing and bad luck. The rank bias shown by the media will be there for all to see over the coming days, Arsene will be mocked as he takes abuse standing in the stands, while Rooney's dive will be forgotten as they have all been in the past:
Arsene is amazed that one particular Manu player was not booked, I suspect this is Carrick who committed at least three nasty or cynical fouls, one in the second half stood out when he slid in from behind and took a man down who was breaking in a very dangerous position, the weak Dean waved play on.
This NOTW article is a great example of the bias and rank stupidity on show in the English press. Neil 'illiterate' Ashton makes out that Arsene had launched a 'blistering' attack on Mike Dean, as one can see from the quote above it's hardly been blistering, apparently Arsene also accuses the ref of being 'intimated' by Old Trafford, I think the word you're looking for is intimidated Neil, if you are going to write in the national press at least get the basic write before you spin some bullshit for your masters.
According to Neil, Rooney 'tumbled' under Almunia's challenge while Arshavin's claim for a penalty only 'appeared' that it may have been a foul. Sky's report is typically partisan stating that Almunia simply brought down Rooney. Sky contrarily reported the Eduardo penalty as controversial and openly stated that he had dived, rather different to their coverage of the Rooney tumble. The Mail also had no doubts that it was a penalty and that Rooney had been 'felled', not what they said about Eduardo, and contrast Almunia's 'ill judged' lunge to their silence on Boruc's rush from goal.
Overall good performance and a very harsh result. Other than the error from Diaby we defended well, Vermaelen looked outstanding yet again, biting into challenge after challenge, while Sagna and Clichy have started the season much better than they finished the last. The midfielders won the battle, Denilson, Diaby and Song all had good games. Eboue had another good ninety, bar an awful dive that got a deserved yellow. We really deserved better from yesterday's game. I hope we can show our strength of character and bounce back next weekend, it will be tough but winning things is touch and this is what you have to do.
A final word should go to the pathetic Dean for did everything he could yesterday to swing the result in the Mancs favour and to the Manu fans at Old Trafford who largely showed themselves to be scum by chanting some utterly repugnant things at Arsene for the umpteenth time. The hypocrisy of this great club is there for all to see, they expect respect to be shown to them by other fans when it suits, however their mighty club has done nothing to stop utter filth being chanted at our manager for years and years on end. It is not just mild abuse that Arsene gets at Old Trafford, it is subhuman treatment, it is at least as bad as racist chanting, and I suspect it comes loudest from those who buy the News of the World and who do not know the difference between a paedophile and a paediatrician, cretins the lot of them.
ps It appears that Arsene is to get an apology for the way in which he was treated at the end of the game, personally I think Dean and Probert should be reprimanded for their appalling handling of the situation, an apology on its own is not enough