Arsenal was the better team yesterday, and they deserved to win.
Having said that :), I think Ferguson missed a major trick there by letting Arsenal control the play from midfield and mainly, not starting the game with Carrick. O’Shea’s presence was unnecessary until Baptista came on the pitch – till then, United lacked creativity in midfield with Scholes doing a lot of the cleaning up and defending and Ronaldo playing on his own on the left.
Manchester United missed Carrick in the game – Neither Hleb or Rosicky or Ljunberg or Fabregas are the type of players that need a bruiser to mark them – Carrick with his interception play and slick passing would have been a better foil for Scholes and his presence would have helped Rooney and Saha as well.
The second mistake Ferguson made was in not starting with Solskjaer on the right. The commentators talked about Fletcher being a better defensive player but with Gallas playing ahead of him and Neville doing a good job of marking Ljunberg / Rosicky, Fletcher’s brief was to go forward and support the two strikers. He’s not good enough to do that.
Before the game, Hasan said that because Manchester United were favourites they wouldn’t fight so hard (and by extension, because Arsenal were underdogs they would scrap harder). I don’t think the favourites/underdogs tags mattered much, but while Arsenal were better on the day this was Manchester United’s home game and considering their lead in the Premiership, their game to win and lose. They lost it, partially to a better team, partially to poor tactics and partially to the players not being up for it.
Arsenal’s goal was typical of Manchester United’s recent defensive problems – first Fabregas wasn’t closed down, then Adebayour was allowed to beat his marker and tap in the goal. Considering the chances we had to score, it was a shame to lose this match.
The Premiership race isn’t over yet for Arsenal, but Manchester United’s title hopes took a hit while Liverpool’s hopes nosedived. They say nothing’s decided yet, but this weekend it was all about which way the results went.
In all fairness, Arsenal showed us how a football match is played – even if they were defensive and had Gallas playing for them (Arsenal’s best player on the night). Manchester United lost a game they really should have won.
A defensive lapse and Arsenal kill the game. Many 1-0 wins predicted for Arsenal this season, while Manchester United will keep leaking goals.