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Gooner(s) Need A Gag Reflex!

 Posted by on November 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm  Arsenal, Blogs/Media, England, Manchester United
Nov 252014

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
Gooner fans can cry and whine into their glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon all they want, but it wasn’t just one more case of bad luck for the team that their owner David Dein has worked his wealthy man’s fingers down to the bone for a lifetime with the expensive objective of receiving favoritism from referees and the press. A good con-artist might sell parsley flakes as marijuana, iron pyrites as gold and maybe even photoshop head shots of Margaret Thatcher on the grossest kind of German porno, but Arsenal will still never win big games without putting the ball into the net! This is true and it always will be!

Nor was it bad luck when the deeply intellectually challenged Wojciech Szczesny went to punch a cross eleven minutes into the second half and crashed into his team-mate Kieran Gibbs as part of one more set of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot-errors in-big-games that are easy to predict when Arsenal have to step up for the big time. Sure, United’s opening goal, was sort of a botched shot from Antonio Valencia that took a snooker-style ricochet off Gibbs who suddenly forgot he was feigning injury on the ground, which, in turn, wrong-footed Szczesny. All the frailties that hinder Arsenal in big matches—a lack of concentration, the inability to improvise, second-rate technicians—came together like a house of cards blown on very gently by a bronchial sanatorium patient. Just enough to kill them, anyway.

Les Gooners have now won only one of their last 15 games against Manchester United. All the more embarrassing because their paid pundits like Piers Morgan, Paul Merson and Martin Keough had been relentlessly alluding to United’s vulnerability because of having to rely on the immature, mentally-weak likes of Tyler Blackett, Paddy McNair and Chris Smalling as part of a 3-4-1-2 system that most United fans were not exactly ecstatic about when it was announced before the match began.

It was a scratch team put out there by Louis Van Gaal and Arsenal were given every opportunity to exploit the back-three’s bad case of nerves during an opening half an hour when they played their usual dink-dink pretty-pretty-pretty-with-a-denouement of curtsy after playing some nice, quick, penetrative football. Yet, as per usual, they were collectively undone by their own narcissism and wastefulness. I’m not quite sure what their veteran manager Arséne Wenger meant when he described the same old deja vú as “naive” defending, which sort of makes Conor Chambers and Per Mertesacker sound sort of like Neville Chamberlain and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. It has been the recurring theme in a season that has brought them only four wins in the league, all against sides currently in the bottom seven.

And, of course, side by side with Les Gooners pathetic innocence persona goes the thuggery. Atypical was their 16th minute removal of Luke Shaw as a threat when, just after Wilshere missed Arsenal’s best chance of the match, a ruthless Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain took out Luke Shaw’s ankle with a tackle that would have been late on Monday. This made for United’s 40th injury in four months.

I look on the first half hour of the match as a case of United playing rope-a-dope. United were clearly not discontent vis-a-vis letting Les Gooners keep their precious ball up till the 35-yard-line for most of the opening half. With David De Gea very much in charge inside his own penalty box and Marouane Fellaini acting as a sort of windshield wiper in front of a twitchy back three, Arsenal seemed to grow bored with the repetitive tactics after a few effective, lightning flashes of danger were snuffed out. Predictably and repeatedly, Wilshere had too much access to the ball. He and Ramsey United steadily grew stale as muscle-and-speed triumvirate of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis Sanchez, and the wasteful Danny Welbeck squandered a multiplicity of half-chances they’d set up.

Possession may well be nine-tenths of the law in your manor, but Michael Carrick and his big bodyguard Marouane Fellaini are both confidence players. As frustration set in for Arsenal after 30 minutes or so, they found it easier and easier to snuff out any Arsenal creativity as Arsenal’s attacking midfielders repeatedly ran out of ideas. And, after a clash between Wilshere and Marouane Fellaini—-the Arsenal midfielder arguably fortunate not to be sent off for head-butting the Belgian in the chest—-the nasty little Londoner lost all effectiveness. And to be fair, the referee Mike Riley, having let so many off-the-ball incidents of overt Arsenal thuggery slide, saw fit to give United a few breaks, too. From then on, as Fellaini and Carrick dominated central midfield, both Angel Di Maria and Wayne Rooney, steadily became more and more of a threat.

Bad then fell into a state of worse when Szczesny was forced off with a bruised hip after a collision with Gibbs. And then, in the 55th minute, Jack Wilsher limped off after a perfectly timed McNair tackle connected with one of his delicate ankles. With Cazoría on for Wilshere and Martínez now in goal, United’s confidence became more and more overt.

So when Rooney made it 2-0 in the 85th minute, it had seemed bound to happen for a while. An incisive counter-attacking move begun with cunning by Fellaini deep inside his own half; his long dipping pass to Di María tidily switched to United’s captain who was cool and calm enough to casually dink his shot over an advancing Emiliano Martínez, Arsenal’s substitute goalkeeper.

Only seconds later, the Argentine noodle, the brilliant Angel Dí María zig-zagged through Arsenal’s midfield and defensive line before, inexplicably chipping his effort wide of goal, causing Louis Van Gaal’s face to turn dark red with embarrassment from the sidelines.

What had almost been a perfect clean sheet for David De Gea was ruined in the 90th minute when Olivier Giroud, back from a broken leg, was substituted for the ineffective Aaron Ramsey and proceeded to make an unstoppable diagonal run in the box, firing a very beautiful goal home from a ridiculously obtuse angle.

Hopefully, complacency won’t set in at the club after the Arsenal victory. Steve Bruce’s Hull City are exactly the kind of plucky, talented club who can give United’s injury-riddled central midfield much grief. Carrick, Fellaini and perhaps Herrera may well find they have a handful of grief from the physical, long-passing awkwardness of style practiced by Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone.
79203054 degeapa 1 Gooner(s) Need A Gag Reflex!

Ivor Irwin

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