By Walter Broeckx
As I had other obligations this evening to which I had committed myself I had to stop watching the match at half time. We had booked tickets for a stand up comedian who not just was telling jokes but who also talked about some not so happy things in her life. And it gave me some perspective.
If anyone who had to do the same as I, and miss the game, would have been 95% sure that we would win this match. I cannot remember us dominating against United as we did in that first half. The only question that needed answering was: how on earth weren’t we 2 or 3-0 up at half time.
Arsenal had some good chances but they were wasted in a terrible way. Welbeck had a good chance but he couldn’t connect properly both with his feet and with the head.
But the biggest miss and maybe most important one came from Wilshere. How on earth could he miss that? What a terrible shot from only 9 meters out straight at the keeper. And to make matters worse he could have laid it on for a simple tap in for Alexis. Missing such a chances is asking for troubles later on in a match.
We kept on dominating the match and United just hung on. Only at the end of the first half they came in the neighbourhood of Szczesny but a good block from Chambers was the only time when we really looked vulnerable in the first half.
Dean would have given a penalty in favour of Wilshere if he would have been a United player probably but we don’t expect a penalty for Arsenal in the next decade so will not even mention it.
So when I came home, I watched the rest of the match. And it was the same at the start of the second half. It was all Arsenal going forward and United defending. But for some strange reason each Arsenal shot went almost straight to De Gea. It was as if he had a magnet in his gloves that drew the ball towards his hands.
A turning point for me was the late tackle on Wilshere. Wilshere was having a good match till then and of course Dean not seeing the foul and giving a yellow card for a late tackle. The worst thing however was that we lost Wilshere. And within minutes we were 0-1 down.
A goal that shouldn’t have counted. Fellaini was offside and he pushed Gibbs who collided with Szczesny. Dean letting a foul on an Arsenal defender go. For the umpteenth time. The fact that the ball was going wide and deflected in from the knee of Gibbs showed that this wasn’t going to be our day. The football gods decided to choose the part of United. Szczesny going off injured forced Wenger in to a second substitution…. Just what we needed.
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What followed was more attacks from Arsenal. More pressure. But again the ball just wouldn’t go out of reach of De Gea. An Alexis header, a Cazorla shot, a.. just name it the ball would end up in his hands.
You knew the longer the game would go on the more risks we had to take. And so after all the pressure from Arsenal it was no surprise that United would go on a counter and Rooney scored the second goal for United, the first legal goal.
Giroud who had come on as the first real substitution managed to get one back in the extra time. And what a goal that was. That will have done him some good.
But by then you knew that this wasn’t going to be our day. Dean played his part by allowing the first goal to stand and by wasting some more time in extra time. People who say that he should have given Wilshere a red card forget that he also should have given Di Maria one for an elbow.
A non English match commentator said that Arsenal should have won the match. It’s as simple as that. When you dominate like you did and get so many chances you have to win the match. We completely outplayed Manchester United but we forgot to score. And when you don’t score enough you cant win.
Do we have to blame the defenders? No the first goal was offside and a foul and a lucky bounce. Shit happens at times. The second was only because we had to commit ourselves completely and then you can get caught on a counter.
I think this time if we want to put blame somewhere we must put it at the door of our attackers. So many chances but apart from Giroud none were taken. This defeat is because we didn’t finish the chances we had. I think some shooting practice should be on the cards from Monday on. Alexis worked hard but didn’t seem as sharp as he has been in the last matches. Probably a bit of jet lag hanging over him?
Of course the usual suspects will want to blame Wenger. But in all honesty what could he have done better? Arsenal dominated United. Is it Wenger’s fault that his forwards didn’t convert the chances? Wenger’s hands were tied behind his back also to make any substitutions. I don’t think Wilshere would have been taken off at that moment in the match and Szczesny certainly wouldn’t have been taken off. But as a result Wenger could only make one change. And the player he brought in delivered with a good goal. I think by minutes played Giroud will be our best finisher after this match.
Sometimes life can be unfair. Sometimes football can be unfair. Today football was unfair to us. We have to remember the good way in which we played for most of the match. We have to practice our finishing so we can take our chances better.
Yes this isn’t a good start of the season. But the good thing (relatively) is that we never were outplayed in a match (apart in Dortmund). We could have won all our matches this season. The quality is there in the team but we need to be more clinical in front of goal. Just as today we need too many chances to win a match. Once we can get the rest of the team scoring more goals we can win every match.
And so I come back to the last song that stand up comedian performed at my night out. It was a reflection on her divorce. And it had the question: will all be fine again for me? And the answer that she got was: yes it will.
So just after after this painful defeat I asked myself and looking at the players we have: will all be fine again for Arsenal? And the only answer I can come up with and in which I believe is: Yes we will. I think this team is one good result away from a good run. The sooner that result will come, the sooner our run will start. And with some players coming back in a few weeks time I think that we then could be unstoppable.
Sticking out my neck on a day like this? Yes, but it is just what I feel about this team.