1) Robin van Persie’s goal after 3 minutes was rather inevitable. It was almost written that RvP was going to score, and there wasn’t very much that we could do about it. If he didn’t score from Vermaelen’s cruddy clearance then he probably would have gone on to score later on anyway.
2) Thomas Vermaelen chose a really bad day to have an off-game. Vermaelen’s clearance was pretty poor, and he gifted an opportunity to the one man on the pitch that we didn’t want to give the ball to. Vermaelen also nearly gave away a second goal when he half slipped and misplaced a pass. There are some people asking whether Laurent Koscielny should be given a few games in defence with Per Mertesacker. However, the fact that Vermaelen is our captain is a big problem; how can you leave your captain out of the team? That said, he has not had a great start to the season and I am not sure that he is actually our best defender.
3) As predicted, Andre Santos struggled vs Rafael and Valancia. However, Lukas Podolski should shoulder an equal amount of the blame because he should have given the Brazilian a little bit of help. Podolski should have been marking Evra or at least making a vague attempt to track his run, but he did very little and the move led to United’s opening goal.
4) Wenger got the team selection wrong. Manchester United have looked a bit vulnerable on the counter-attack this season, so Wenger went and stuck Aaron Ramsey on the right wing, with Theo Walcott on the bench. Walcott is said to have been unhappy about being benched after his performance against Reading and I can understand why. Ramsey lacks the pace for the wing; he is naturally a central midfielder, but Wenger insists on playing him out of position. With no Gervinho and no Walcott in the team, Arsenal lacked pace and our play was slow and obvious. I don’t really understand where Ramsey was supposed to fit into the team.
5) Arsenal were beaten by a header from one of the smallest players on the pitch, from a corner. How can a team that has the height of Giroud and Mertesacker beaten to a header by Patrice Evra? Evra is 5’8″ – hardly a giant. And yet again, we were undone by a corner (or a cross that came straight from a corner).
6) Mike Dean did not hold back on the yellow cards and gave away the inevitable penalty. The first thing to say is that, although the game lacked it’s usual ferociousness, there were a fair few silly challenges and Mike Dean obliged by handing out 9 yellow cards. I think that most of us could have predicted that there would be a penalty at Old Trafford, but the way that we conceded it was particularly frustrating. Cazorla’s hands were in the air, but I would like to ask what the other options were? He was protecting himself. I guess Santi was supposed to just get hit in the face by the ball, which was struck pretty close to him anyway.
7) Wenger made the wrong substitution. I think that we could all see that Jack Wilshere was throwing himself into a lot of challenges (- that is just the way that he plays!), but he was already on a yellow card and we had Aaron Ramsey on the wing. Take Wilshere off, move Ramsey into the centre and bring on Walcott. It should have been simple. In the end, Wilshere’s ban is a blessing in disguise. It means that our talented central midfielder will have an involuntary rest next weekend against Fulham and will be relatively fresh to face Spurs. However, you wonder if Arsenal could have nicked a draw if we still had 11 men on the pitch.
8) Vito Mannone made some great saves. Credit where credit is due. I thought that Mannone had a pretty good game, and it would seem that many Arsenal fans would agree. We voted him the MOTM on Arsenal.com followed very closely by Santi Cazorla. Robin van Perise would surely have scored a second if it wasn’t for a brilliant save from the Italian.
9) Cazorla’s goal was fantastic, but it was too little too late. Had it come earlier it might have prompted a reaction, but the referee’s whistle blew while we were watching the replay. We saw against Reading how a late goal can bring the best out of the team, but Arsenal had lacked urgency for most of the afternoon.
10) As per usual, we can’t blame the loss on a lack of possession. Some websites have us having anywhere from 48-54% of the ball, but we did nothing with it. Even though United won, Fergie was said to be disappointed by his teams performance. I was absolutely amazed that we were only a goal down at half time, and 2-1 was a rather flattering result. It was honestly one of the worst Arsenal performances I have seen since the first half vs Reading or Norwich. The match lacked the intensity that we have seen in this game in previous seasons. Given our poor performance, it might be worrying for United fans that they only managed to beat us by one goal.