I expect absolute concurrence even with the greatest rivals and pipe down haters that Arsene is a great manager. However, even in games against United, a team whose form has been patchy, our teams looked fidgety and even him; he didn’t cut an inspiring figure on the touchline. He was outwitted tactically by a manager with average credentials at the top level in the name of David Moyes.
I am not a globally renowned pundit such as Gary Neville, Alan Hansen, Andy Gray or John Dykes et al and most of my football musings are often dispensed with but at times even the simple tenets and cannons of football are readily known by everyone or perhaps to be quite conservative, by any ardent football fan. The pundits only get the plaudits for the regurgitation of information clearly known and common to all in the footballing sphere.
Going into this game, everybody in our club knew that even as much as the three points were at stake, a win or a draw against United was vital to give us a psychological edge and to send a message that we can no longer tolerate the trend of being the whooping boys against United in Old Trafford.
Any manager ought to know that most of the united play emanates from the wings. The tactical set up therefore had to be well structured in order to effectively stifle United from using the flanks. Wenger opted to start Ramsey on the right, a player who I agree is on form but he was not quite disciplined to stick to his duties on the wing. He lost so many balls and did not even bother to track back hence Sagna was exposed and were it not for Flamini, the outcome in the first half would have been calamitous.
Phil Jones started in centre midfield hence it was obvious that he was going to inhibit Ozil from making any meaningful impact on the game. It is worth noting that he had done it successfully against Real Madrid last season in the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League.
A manager is expected to do his homework and he would have known that David Moyes since his days at the Merseyside always wants his teams to be narrow while playing against us especially this time round when he knew that we did not have any natural wide men. Starting Flamini alongside Arteta was therefore ill advised and the eventual substitution of Flamini for the more direct Wilshere justifies that assertion.
Ramsey as stated earlier did not have a good first half but he was immense once he was deployed back to his natural centre midfield position. It was plausible to start Wilshere from the bench especially considering that he was just coming back from the mild ankle injury but his direct play would have been vital if he had started the game because even a half fit Jack proved to be a menace for the United pair of Cleverly and Carrick.
Ozil is a precocious talent and it is appalling that some of our fans can imply that his performances have been underwhelming. Ozil and any other No.10 in the game usually thrive on movement and runs by the forwards including the wingers. Since he joined our club, it is only in one game where he played with an accomplished baller who is a winger such as Theo Walcott. This was against Sunderland and it was arguably his best game to date. He set up Walcott on numerous one on one’s only for him to scuff his shots or place them directly on the keeper’s path.
The introduction of Serge Gnabry for the last 12 minutes changed our fortunes completely. Our attacking midfielders finally found an outlet which had been missing for the vast parts of our game. Gnabry made Evra seem a fool despite the fact that he was on the pitch for only a paltry 12 minutes. Many fans were wishing that his introduction would have been made a little bit earlier since most probably our wide forays would have culminated into something. It was a classic scenario of sour grapes.