|Bacary Sagna was Arsenal's best player on a frustrating evening|
Looking at the squads the key battle was to be van Persie and Rooney against Koscielny and Vermaelen. Vermaelen hasn't played much football of late and he's been questioned over whether he can still perform to an adequate standard in an Arsenal shirt. He more than showed that in this fixture though. Zonal marking was the reason we conceded our goal from a corner. Why we can't do man marking is absolutely beyond me, the idea of marking a zone sounds ridiculous in my opinion. Vermaelen could have got more tighter to van Persie but he wasn't really to blame for the defeat. Overall he put in a decent shift and showed solidarity at the heart of the defence with Koscielny. Mertesacker was a huge loss and may have been patrolling the area in which United scored from. However, Koscielny and Vermaelen have showed us twice this season that they can both play together effectively. To have only conceded one goal in 3 games against Liverpool, Dortmund and Man United is pretty good going by any teams standards.
Two players I have noticed that can't play quite as well together though are Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini. In our previous 2 games in which Flamini was out injured Arteta has done a fantastic job of covering the defence and distributing the ball. More of an attacking player in his Everton days, he's more than showed that he can do the defensive aspect of the game well too. However when he's played with Flamini we don't seem to have played as well. It restricts us a little bit going forward because Arteta isn't quite as used to going further forward whilst Flamini stays back. Another man this affects is Aaron Ramsey. He's been average at best when played out on the right and in future if we are to play Arteta and Flamini as our holding players then Ramsey should unfortunately stay on the bench. Because of our recent performances I think that Arteta and Ramsey should be the ones playing just in front of the defence.
Yesterday we also saw Ozil pretty much non existent. Many will be afraid to say it because of his price tag but he didn't seem to show up yesterday. Players weren't making the runs in behind and he had little space to work his magic, credit to United for that but Giroud was also very isolated and we hardly created any chances. It was the first time we've failed to score in a League game this season which just outlines that factor. With the amount of creativity and talent we have in midfield it was rather worrying to see us hardly create anything. To focus on Ozil once more though, I think he has missed Walcott deeply. I picked up on it last week in which I said that he isn't going to be at his best until people start running in behind. The man to do that is Theo Walcott. That's why Ozil was able to provide so many opportunities for Ronaldo at Real Madrid and why they had such a potent relationship. He showed his worth when he first arrived but he's been a bit quiet recently. You can't expect him to be playing amazingly well all the time though, he is human after all!
Anyway, despite all those negatives, there are things to be positive about. We're still top of the league by 2 points which I would never have imagined after our opening day defeat. Other positives included the continued improvement of Bacary Sagna, he dealt well with any attacks down the left hand side and also put in some fantastic crosses. Two were teased in which on another day would've come off a player and found the back of the net. Serge Gnabry came on a little later than many Arsenal fans had wanted but he looked lively as always and gave us a different dimension of pace, something that we'd been crying out for during the game. It was a frustrating game but there's still lots to look forward to when the players return after the international break. Theo Walcott will be back and we have a nice run of games to get some more points on the board.
The teams lineups:
Manchester United: De Gea, Smalling, Vidic(45), Evans, Evra, Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Kagawa(77), Rooney, van Persie(85).
Subs: Lindegaard, Cleverley(45), Fellaini(85), Giggs(77), Januzaj, Nani, Hernandez.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta(83), Flamini(62), Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla(78), Giroud.
Subs: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Monreal, Hayden, Wilshere(62), Gnabry(83), Bendtner(78).
My man of the match: Bacary Sagna.
Referee: Michael Oliver.