|Giroud scored on his return as Arsenal were beaten by United|
It's easy to rant, and it may seem like we lost the game to a much larger score-line, but the truth is, it felt like we had. Jack Wilshere passed up one of the best opportunities to score I have ever seen midway through the first half. Had he scored that then it would have been a very different game. Arsenal were in the ascendency and were dominating United to a great extent. For once I thought we had the upper hand against them, but it was typical of us to go 1-0 down through a calamitous own goal with them yet to have a shot on target. Young's floated ball was punched away into the path of Valencia who after Szczesny and Gibbs had collided, drove the ball off Gibbs and into the net.
Szczesny as a result had to go off, and Martinez came on. Arsenal had effectively thrown everyone forward late on and were of course caught out on the counter attack. It seems as though we're destined to never learn from our mistakes, and the players just don't have that mental edge over their opponents. Rooney clipped the ball over Martinez for their second and Di Maria almost did the same but sent the ball wide in a similar situation.
In truth, Arsenal didn't look that bad at the back. A lot of the time the defence get the blame and rightfully so, but at the weekend it was the attackers fault. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was perhaps our only threat and the majority of shots we had were straight at United keeper David De Gea. Alexis Sanchez's impact was minimal too, and it wouldn't surprise me if he was rested for Dortmund despite the magnitude of the game, after a busy international break with Chile.
In Olivier Giroud, Arsenal were brought a glimmer of hope. The Frenchman has been missing since September through injury and immediately showed the passion and determination we seemed to be lacking through the game. He almost scored with his first touch of the ball (a header) and then did find the net with an absolute screamer. Arteta played the ball over the top, and Giroud unleashed a brilliant half-volley. It's worth mentioning the performance of Mikel Arteta further though. Despite the defeat he controlled the game well and made sure that the supply line to Rooney, Di Maria and van Persie was restricted throughout the game.
Too many of the attacking players chose to have a poor game though, and that, alongside the lack of bottle the players seem to have, ultimately lead to our downfall.
We've had a lot of frustrating results this season but this one has to be up there as one of the most frustrating, and bitterly disappointing. I can't remember a game that we've controlled more against one of the top sides in so long, and to then go and lose the game given the circumstances is inconceivable.
The team's line-ups:
Arsenal: Szczesny(59), Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey(76), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere(55), Sanchez, Welbeck.
Subs: Martinez(59), Bellerin, Flamini, Rosicky, Cazorla(55), Podolski, Giroud(76).
Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Blackett, Smalling, McNair, Shaw(16), Carrick, Fellaini, van Persie(75), Rooney, Di Maria.
Subs: Lindegaard, Fletcher(88), Young(16,88), Herrara, Januzaj, Mata, Wilson(75).
Referee: Mike Dean.