Match Report: Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal

Manchester United inflicted the worst defeat of the Arsene Wenger era as they recorded an 8-2 win against an inexperienced and frail Arsenal side. Wayne Rooney did the damage with a hattrick, Ashley Young grabbed a brace, while Park Ji-Sung and Danny Welbeck piled on the misery for the Gunners. Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott did get on the scoreline, but a missed penalty by the Dutchman at 1-0 down proved incredibly costly.

Where to start? Well let’s be honest, we knew this was going to be an uphill struggle the moment the team news was confirmed.

Without the departed Fabregas and Nasri, with Wilshere, Diaby, Song, Vermaelen and Gibbs injured, Gervinho, Frimpong and Song suspended and Sagna taken ill, Arsene Wenger had little choice but to raid the Academy for a few youngsters to make up the numbers.

Wojciech Szczesny retained his place in goal, in front of him Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou took up the centre-back positions flanked by Armand Traore and Carl Jenkinson on the left and right of respectively. In midfield Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey were joined by young Frenchman Francis Coquelin. Up front we looked relatively strong with Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott wide of Robin Van Persie. On the bench, the recognisable Fabianski and Chamakh were joined by Ignasi Miquel , Henri Lansbury, Oguzhan Ozyakup, Alex Chamberlain and Gilles Sunu.

The opening exchanges proved nervy, but relatively controlled. United had a couple of wayward efforts on goal from Danny Welbeck, but for the most part Wenger’s boys kept the ball well enough and moved forward with pace.

Ramsey was more imposing than he had been against Liverpool and Rosicky’s experience proved useful as he talked Coquelin through the first 15 minutes. The Frenchman, in tough circumstances, did well. Having spent last season on loan in Ligue 1 with Lorient, he was snappy in the tackle, decisive in his passing and showed more discipline in his positioning than Frimpong had done a week earlier.

It became apparent very early on that United were more than happy to slow the game down and then use their pace on the wings to penetrate down the flanks. They created little to start, although they impressed with their pressing of our defence.

On 22 minutes United scored and it was the softest of goals to concede. A ball into the box by Evra was cleared by Koscielny but when Anderson returned it with a dinked chip to the six yard box, Johan Djourou allowed the ball to bounce and Welbeck headed in from close range. It was poor from the Swiss, left Szczesny completely exposed and saw him glared at with rage by Koscielny.

In the build-up to the goal, Jenkinson and Walcott had exchanged angry words about the room Evra was finding down the United left. Whatever they said to each other it didn’t seem to solve the problem as the Frenchman immediately found himself free again moments after the restart.  We looked shaky.

Five minutes later, and pretty much out of the blue, Howard Webb awarded Arsenal a penalty. Walcott was pulled down in the box by Jonny Evans and Robin van Persie stepped up to take the spot kick. He missed with a tepid effort which David de Gea tipped around the post. In tough circumstances you need your experienced players to step up; the Dutchman on this occasion did not. You sensed, as with Wednesday’s spot kick miss by Udinese, that it might be a defining moment.

As expected our fears were proved correct. Ashley Young went up the other end and curled in a superb effort from 25 yards out. There we were 2-0 down and not playing that badly, but confidence being pummelled all the same. The travelling fans looked dejected.

On the half hour Arshavin hit a low shot which caused de Gea all sorts of problems, Van Persie did well to react quickly to the rebound but again he couldn’t beat the Spaniard. As was the pattern of the game, United counter-attacked immediately and nearly scored a third after a Rooney cross was headed goalwards by Welbeck.

For some reason Andrey Arshavin decided it was his day to be the Arsenal hard man. He was booked after 15 minutes for a bad challenge on Phil Jones and followed it up with a further foul on Young which could easily have seen him red carded. It’s a pity his efficiency in the foul wasn’t matched by efficiency in the final third – too often the ‘final product’, of which Arsene Wenger speaks so often, was lacking from the Russian.

Jenkinson continued to be given a torrid time by Ashley Young and it was little surprise that the Charlton acquisition got his positioning wrong on 40 minutes and resorted to dragging down the England winger. It earned him a booking, but the punishment didn’t stop with a card. Wayne Rooney took the resulting free-kick from the edge of the box and nonchalantly clipped it in the top corner to make it 3-0. It was lambs to the slaughter stuff and the United fans sang, “You’re going down, going down, going down.” As the minutes ticked to half-time it felt like we might well be.

Three seconds before the end of the allotted injury-time Theo Walcott scored our first league goal of the season. Put through by Tomas Rosicky he slid a tidy finish between de Gea’s legs to make it 3-1. You wanted to think it gave us something to build on, but you also sensed it was a mere consolation. Did you celebrate? I didn’t. Although, I did afford myself a wry smile when Twitter was awakened by tweets proclaiming a 4-3 comeback.

On any other day you suspect Arsene Wenger might have subbed Arshavin at half-time, but with a dearth of options on the bench the Russian reappeared to continue his testing of Howard Webb’s surprising leniency.

Szczesny was forced into an early save from an Ashley Young strike as United started again at full steam. Then on 52 minutes Robin van Persie had a chance to further reduce the deficit. Tomas Rosicky played a delightful floated ball to the striker who volleyed low towards the corner. Only a smart save from de Gea stopped the captain’s effort. The Arsenal fans were in full voice, superbly singing their way through the pain.

Arshavin then found his way into the box having skipped free of Phil Jones; he seemed destined to score, but dragged his shot wide under pressure from Evans. The Gunners were showing real heart, but without the necessary cutting edge in front of goal. United for their part continued to prove dangerous and had three gilt edge chances to hit a fourth.

On the hour Alex ‘the Ox’ Chamberlain came on for his Arsenal debut. The 17-year-old, who featured against the Red Devils for Southampton in last season’s FA Cup, replaced Francis Coquelin in the centre of the park. Unfortunately, it was a bit too much of an ask for him to score a hattrick.

In the 64th minute, Rooney finally killed the game off. Earning a free-kick from a Djourou foul, he again took responsibility for the set piece, wrong-footed Szczesny (again) and curled past the Pole for a second time. Four goals conceded, three from unstoppable long distance efforts. It wasn’t Arsenal’s day.

The fifth wasn’t long coming. Nani found himself completely free in the middle of the box from a pass by Rooney and the Portuguese winger had all the time in the world to lob over Szczesny. It was nearly six when Rooney hit the post on 69 minutes. It was six when substitute Park tucked home as the ball stayed in play. Jesus. 20 minutes to go and we were being slaughtered. If you’re still reading at this point; fair play.

Surprisingly, we actually bagged another goal. Robin van Persie going some way to atoning for his penalty miss by lashing home from three yards out. 6-2 and the first time we’d scored twice at Old Trafford in the Premier League era. I apologise for rolling out such a crappy stat at a time like this.

Carl Jenkinson then got sent off for bringing down substitute Javier Hernandez. Our third game of the season, our fourth red card. We couldn’t even scream blue murder at referee Howard; he had to give it and was nice enough to only flash a second yellow rather than a straight red. Theo Walcott went back to right-back…and promptly gave away a penalty. Rooney scored to seal his hattrick and take the score to 7-2. “Sacked in the morning,” the United fans sang at Wenger. We all know he won’t be, but he will be under pressure to make sure this never happens again.

Van Persie and Walcott were taken out of the firing line and Lansbury and Chamakh came on to play out the last seven minutes. In injury-time Ashley Young scored a carbon-copy of his first by crashing home another great curled effort to make it 8-2.

Thankfully, Howard Webb ended the nightmare by blowing for full time straight after the re-start.

It was Arsenal’s worst defeat in 115 years, when we conceded eight to Loughborough in 1896. Its two victories in 14 matches in the Premier League. It’s the worst run of form since Arsene Wenger took over in 1996. We’ve taken one point from the first three games of this season and we look to be in trouble.

It can only get better. It has to get better.

A quick tip of the cap to the travelling Arsenal fans who sang their hearts out throughout; you did us proud.

Striker linked as Carling Cup draw made

Reports from France suggest Arsenal could be on the brink of signing Monaco’s South Korean striker Park Chu-Young.

Park was due to join Lille, but apparently left midway through his medical tests there to travel to London to join Arsenal. Lille’s president Michel Seydoux said, “Park went to England, apparently to Arsenal. We are stunned by this unacceptable behaviour.”

BBC’s football reporter, David Ornstein, has confirmed with Lille that Park is on his way to sign for the Gunners. More on this as we get it.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have been drawn against Shrewbury Town in the 3rd round of the Carling Cup. The game will take place at the Grove in the week beginning Sept 19th.

Wenger: New faces would help us compete with United

Arsene Wenger believes that Arsenal will be able to challenge Manchester United for the Premier League title if they make two or three signings before the close of the transfer window.

Accepting that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have started with more vigour than usual and maintaining that they are the outright favourites for the season ahead, the Frenchman stressed that he still had utmost confidence in his own young squad to be a competitive force on the domestic scene.

“They [United] have regenerated quite well compared to last year. There are still some good, experienced weapons on the bench.

“Last Monday [against Spurs] when they made the changes there was still Berbatov and Giggs coming on, Carrick and Park. I would not be surprised if all these players start against us.

“They are the favourites because they won it last year and do not look weaker. It’s up to us to make sure they do not win it.

“I try to strengthen the squad in depth because at the moment we are a bit short numbers wise. If we get two or three players in, we have the quality to challenge them.

Asked if he was worried about the clock counting down on the transfer window, Wenger, who also expressed a specific desire to sign a striker, confirmed it was an unavoidable concern:

“Am I anxious? Yes, because I want to do it [make signings]. I am confident as well because we have some good young players who can make a step up very quickly.

One player who looks unlikely to be a member of the Gunners squad in the near future is 19-year-old Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell. Although the teenager has represented his national team at both youth and full level Wenger confirmed he has yet to seal the necessary paperwork which would allow him to play in England:

“We don’t have a work permit for Joel Campbell at the moment and we’re not in the position where we know if we’ll get one.”

AW: “We’re looking for a striker”

With Nicklas Bendtner on his way out, Arsene Wenger feels the club are short of striking options and said he’s on the lookout for a signing before the transfer window closes.

Asked about Bendtner’s departure, the boss said, “We are looking for one more striker because we know he will leave. We will be short this season because we also have Chamakh leaving for the African Cup of Nations”.

Wenger still expects Bendtner to find a new club despite having an ankle injury which could keep him out for two months. “He has an ankle problem. It is not a bad injury and not threatening, but he will be out for two months. But I cannot give you a day that he will be back”.

It strikes us that a player facing a two month lay-off just five days before the transfer window closes might well be hard to move on. Then again, based on everything we’ve seen so far this summer, a £35m move to Man City isn’t impossible either.

Update: Seems the Wenger quote should read “but he will not be out for two months”. Which makes much more sense and could add another £5m to whatever City pay for him!

Wenger hits out at Bolton over Cahill

Arsene Wenger has reacted to Bolton’s public statements regarding the club’s bid for defender Gary Cahill.

Described earlier in the day as ‘not even close to derisory’ by Owen Coyle, Bolton chairman Phil Gartside took to Twitter to re-tweet a Bolton fan’s opinion of the reported bid.

boltontweet

When quizzed about it in his press conference, Wenger said, “That number is completely wrong. If Gartside can say I am lying I am ready to confront him.. You can believe Gartside or you can believe me. It’s not right. It’s not the truth.

“The truth is that we never speak about our negotiations. If a club doesn’t want to sell a player it can keep him. When we sign a player we come out here and tell you and keep the price a secret”.

And just to make things even more clear, Wenger said, “If you ask do I want to buy your house and you are not happy with the price you say no, that’s it.

“Why should you feel insulted? I don’t understand. If the player is not for sale they can keep him. I don’t understand the problem. If we want to buy the player we buy the player. I do not have to explain for how much.”

Arsenal’s chief negotiator, Dick Law, was in Bolton on Monday to try and broker a deal but clearly the difference between the clubs was too great, and with this very public falling out, it remains to be seen if Arsenal will turn their attention elsewhere.

Also, Phil Gartside has a midget’s head. Seriously, he does.

philgartside_midgethead

Arseblog News suspects that Arsenal will try and do business with a club that isn’t run by an oversized Time Bandit.

Djourou and Koscielny fit, but Vermaelen ‘a little doubt’ for United

Arsene Wenger has confirmed this afternoon that both Johan Djourou and Tomas Rosicky will be available for Sunday’s match against Manchester United, while French centre-back Laurent Koscielny is also in contention.

Worries remain though about the fitness of Thomas Vermaelen after the Belgian picked up a knock in Wednesday’s match against Udinese.

Midfield pair Abou Diaby and Jack Wilshere are not expected to be available for several more weeks, Kieran Gibbs is still sidelined with a hamstring problem while Sebastian Squillaci is struggling with a troublesome calf (I recognise this makes him sound like a vet).

Arsenal will also be without Alex Song, Emmanuel Frimpong and Gervinho who are all suspended.

More to follow…

Miles: Arsenal are open for business until transfer deadline day

Arsenal club secretary David Miles believes that Arsene Wenger will be working on signing new players right up to the transfer deadline.

The Frenchman has remained coy on whether or not he will be adding high profile additions to his young Gunners squad, but having sealed Champions League football and with at least £60 million in the bank from the sale of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri he is fully expected to do so by success hungry supporters.

Speaking in the aftermath of this afternoon’s Champions League draw which pits Arsenal against French side Marseille, Greek champions Olympiakos and Bundesliga winners Borussia Dortmund, Miles told Sky Sports:

“I think that you’ll appreciate I can’t exactly give you specifics but certainly everyone is committed.

“If there’s quality players to be brought in I’ve got every faith in Arsene Wenger that he’ll do so.

“As you rightly say we’ve got just under a week. I’ve been involved myself in some last minute transfers so until the window actually closes I think that we’re still open for business.”

In the last 24 hours the likes of Swiss starlet Xherdan Shaqiri, French enforcer Yann M’Vila, Belgian playmaker Eden Hazard and Everton’s Spanish midfielder Mikel Arteta have all been linked with the club.

Arsenal draw Marseille, Olympiakos and Borussia Dortmund in UCL

The draw for the 2011-12 Champions League has taken place in Monaco this afternoon and after qualifying for the competition proper for the 14th successive season, Arsene Wenger’s young squad will now face Marseille, Olympiakos and Borussia Dortmund.

Full Champions League Draw

Group A – Bayern Munich / Villarreal / Manchester City / Napoli

Group B – Inter Milan / CSKA Moscow / Lille / Trabzonspor

Group C – Manchester United / Benfica / FC Basel / Otelul Galati

Group D – Real Madrid / Lyon / Ajax / Dinamo Zagreb

Group E – Chelsea / Valencia / Bayer Leverkusen / Genk

Group F – Arsenal / Marseille / Olympiakos / Borussia Dortmund

Group G – FC Porto / Shakhtar Donetsk / Zenit St Petersburg / APOEL

Group H – Barcelona / AC Milan / BATE Borisov / Viktoria Plzen

 

Arsenal Fixtures (All matches to be played at 7.45pm)

BV Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal / Tuesday, September 13

Arsenal v Olympiacos FC / Wednesday September 28

Olympique de Marseille v Arsenal / Wednesday, October 19

Arsenal v Olympique de Marseille / Tuesday, November 1

Arsenal v BV Borussia Dortmund / Wednesday, November 23

Olympiacos FC v Arsenal / Tuesday, December 6
PLEASE NOTE: Tottenham Hotspur are not in the Champions League.

RVP and Jenks hail character

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Both Robin van Persie and Carl Jenkinson have praised the spirit of the Arsenal team after last night’s 2-1 win over Udinese.

The Gunners came from a goal down to qualify for the Champions League knock-out stages for the 15th consecutive time, and while the squad was weaker than many would like, a ‘proud’ van Persie reckons they made up for up using Arsene Wenger’s favourite quality.

“Some people questioned our mental strength, but if you look at the game that’s what we showed”, he told Arsenal Player. “Now it’s up to us to show that every three or four days, not just tonight. We have to do that over and over again, that’s just football.”

And new boy Jenkinson, making his first ever Champions League start, said, “Tonight showed completely how together we are, and our character shone through. We had some tricky times out there where a lesser team might have crumbled and would not have battled like we did.

“We’ve had some down times lately and that win is massive for us. It showed how united we are, how together we are.

“I’m just happy that over the 90 minutes we showed how good we are, got the win we needed and we’re in the Champions League where we should be”.

Arsenal go into the Champions League group stages draw later today which takes place at 4.45pm.

Subscribe to Arsenal Player.

Udinese 1-3 Arsenal (agg): By The Numbers

Champions League data can be notoriously difficult to find but never fear, 7amkickoff is here with some fresh numbers for you to digest.

The Numbers:

92 – Percent of 71 passes completed by Aaron Ramsey**
78 – Percent of 41 passes completed by Benatia
0 – Percent chance I heard of Benatia before this match
0 – Percent chance any of us will remember his name after tonight’s celebrations
21 – Number of passes between Vermaelen and Sagna*
17 – Number of passes between Ramsey and Song and Sagna and Ramsey
12 – Number of passes between Frimpong and van Persie
1 –
Fouls committed each by Frimpong and Jenkinson
4 – Fouls committed by Song
4 – Days since Arsenal have had a red card
331 –
Days since an Arsenal keeper last saved a penalty in the Champions League (Partizan 1-3 Arsenal)
331 –
Days since Arsenal last recorded an away win in the Champions League (Partizan 1-3 Arsenal)
14 – Consecutive years that Arsenal have made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League
10 – Consecutive Champions League qualifiers that Arsenal have won
21 – Positive goal differential for Arsenal in those 10 matches
19 – Arsenal shots
13 – Arsenal shots on goal
229 – Days since Arsenal last had 13 or more shots on goal (Arsenal 1-1 Leeds, FA Cup, January 2011)
35 – Degrees Centigrade at kickoff
20440 – Combined Meters covered by Walcott and Jenkinson on the right**
18582 – Combined Meters covered by Sagna and Gervinho on the left
7103 – Bottles of Lucozade consumed by the Arsenal players after the match

Let me know if I missed anything!

*Led his team in this category
**Led both teams in this category