A Tale Of Two Dodgy Defences

Online Ed: Arsenal win point at Man Utd, but could have had more

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It was a visit to Old Trafford laced with far more optimism than normal. Arsenal’s performance in the North London Derby combined with the inconsistency of United had some believing Emery’s team could win a league match at United for the first time since 2006. And on the chances created, they certainly could have. If you score two goals away from home, you should expect to win. Yet the Gunners weak point in recent seasons has been defensive lapses, and it hasn’t gone away. And the reality is that defence has never been Emery’s strong point.

Guendouzi and Ramsey came in for the suspended Xhaka and the benched Mkhitaryan. Mesut Ozil did not travel with the squad. Three at the back were retained and Shkodran Mustafi recovered from his knock on Sunday. Early on United were aggressive and went forward with signs of intent, but soon enough Arsenal established a foothold in the game. Iwobi frustrated a little with his attempted crosses always seeming to get blocked when he had the opportunity to create danger. However, once Ramsey switched to the left hand side, the visitors created a lot of danger through combinations involving the Welshman, Gunedouzi and the overlapping Kolasinac.

Eventually the pressure told, when Mustafi headed in a corner that De Gea fluffed. Goal-line technology determined the award of the goal when it looked to the naked eye like a goal-line clearance. It was a nice break. Arsenal being Arsenal, and this being the first half, it couldn’t last. United own a free kick outside the area, which Rojo took, forcing a save from Leno. Ander Herrera was marginally offside at the time, but not spotted so was able to put the ball across the face of goal where Martial was in position to finish more quickly than Arsenal’s players, notably Holding and Iwobi. A lack of focus that will need to be picked apart on video.

Things were about to get worse. Rob Holding was stretchered off. Arsenal’s centre back options were not helped by Laurent Koscielny being subbed with what looked like his ankle playing up in the U21 match at Pompey on Tuesday evening. Mavraponos has hardly featured this season due to injury. Holding was replaced last night with Stephan Lichtsteiner. As half-time neared, it was obvious Aaron Ramsey would be unable to continue for long and so it proved, with Mkhitaryan coming on for the restart. Emery’s men seemed to be dropping like flies. It was a quite a physical match with a lot of fouls, but the worst injuries seemed innocuous. One hoped the law of the ex might mean Mkhitaryan scoring against his old side.

Lacazette replaced Iwobi with a quarter of the game left, and not before time. Arsenal went ahead again thanks to a defensive howler from Rojo who lost possession in his own half. The resultant attack saw Lacazette in the wars after the ball had entered the net, although whether the striker or Rojo got the final touch was difficult to say. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long, United scoring straight from the re-start as the Arsenal defence failed to clear a high ball into the box, with Kolasinac unwittingly passing the ball into the path of Jesse Lingard to poke it past Leno. There are times when safety first is the best policy and Kolasinac would have done better to just leather the ball away from the area.

The danger from Kolasinac continued into the second half, and chances were certainly there for the taking. Arsenal rallied, and both Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan had glorious chances in front of goal, both set up by Kolasinac. They also found the net twice, but were ruled offside on both occasions. As the game neared the end, Lichtsteiner killed momentum as the team ensured they would at least not concede a late goal, something of a United speciality. Overall, United’s three subs – Lukaku, Pogba and Fellaini has less influence than you would have expected, which pays some credit to Arsenal’s play.

Ultimately, it was a match of drama more than quality, as symbolized by the goals. Most Arsenal fans would have settled for four points out of six before the matches with Spurs and United, although the reality is they deserved to win both. Now they have matches against Huddersfield, Southampton, Burnley and Brighton to rack up as many points as they can muster before visiting Anfield before the New Year.

Emery still has time to work on the defence so that this can still be a successful season, but the continual concession of cheap goals might ultimately cost. Certainly, there has been progress, but not in all areas. Arsenal slipped back into fifth place as a result of last night’s games. Even allowing for the defensive howlers, there were enough chances for the Gunners to win this game. So a sense of what might have been, but the unbeaten run continues, and United’s woes under Mourinho this season do the same.


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  1. Paulo75

    Dec 6, 2018, 21:48 #112654

    Decent result considering the efforts expended on Sunday. There is so much to admire about Emery’s management but dare I say it some of our defending still has its roots in the Wenger era. The Ozil situation is a difficult one, I don’t see him fitting into the new work ethic but at 30 years old and earning £300k plus a week we will struggle to get rid. Another contract situation poorly handled by the Club I’m afraid.

  2. mbg

    Dec 6, 2018, 19:52 #112653

    I'm delighted to say my hatred for maureen the whinging c**t has returned also.

  3. mbg

    Dec 6, 2018, 19:48 #112652

    Bit of an anti climax from Sunday but we still did enough to win it, we really need to start taking all these chances we're making, (and it's great we're making them) if we had we wouldn't have had to rely on our defence which i'm afraid wasn't up to scratch on this occasion.


    Dec 6, 2018, 19:18 #112651

    Gradually Dick is improving players we had long given up on, Xakha for one & now Kolasinac plus installing real "toughness" into this team. Great coach & man manager - for example how he lifted Kola after the game. Injuries are a great worry but I feel very positive for the remainder of the season - & what a change that is!!

  5. GoonerRon

    Dec 6, 2018, 15:51 #112650

    Based on the balance of play a draw was fair, but based on the chances we should have won. Good to grind out a performance of endeavour at a time when we just didn’t have the energy to replicate Sunday’s performance. I’d ask the players to go again one more time on Saturday, send them for a few days off and play the kids against Qarabag.

  6. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Dec 6, 2018, 10:53 #112649

    Thought this game might be a draw - it is not a great ground for us lately but the last 20 minutes again were encouraging. United were going storm us into submission in the last quarter, or so JM thought, yet Arsenal regrouped and created enough chances to have won it. Lost some bodies on the way, poor defending (this will take time) but no "cave in" and no blaming each other, just another good team effort. I am pleased.

  7. Made Up Stat

    Dec 6, 2018, 10:32 #112648

    re, doesn't make goals and I'd be surprised if his pass completion rate is 50%.

  8. Made Up Stat

    Dec 6, 2018, 10:30 #112647

    Excellent that the unbeaten run continues and how satisfying it is now when we can go to places like OT with confidence. Something we've not been able to do for a decade. On a more negative note, though, can I ask what does Iwobi bring to the game? Doesn't sco

  9. Bard

    Dec 6, 2018, 10:20 #112646

    I thought it was a good point after the excitement of the Spuds game. We could and should have win it. Im having a hard time digesting this new attitude. At long last we look like a team that wont roll over. John F, it wouldnt surprise me. Maureen has history on that front. Felt sorry for Holding. He's been a revelation and it looked quite serious. Fingers crossed.

  10. Radfordkennedy

    Dec 6, 2018, 10:04 #112645

    By far and away the highlight of the night for me was Tony Adams suit !!...a 3 piece chocolate brown crushed velveteen affair, I can only imagine that TA was going to a 'The Sweeney' appreciation society dinner after the game.

  11. John F

    Dec 6, 2018, 09:48 #112644

    I wouldn't be surprised if Maureen gave instructions to kick our players so we would either lose one with an injury or a red card to disrupt Dicks tactical substitution s.Apart from the second goal I thought we defended well last night and I was impressed by the way the team battled through out the match.Felliani hair pull on Guendouzi was evidence just what a dirty team Utd are.Horrible unwatchable team.

  12. peter wain

    Dec 6, 2018, 08:48 #112643

    a great point keeps the momentum going shame it wasn't more