Monday, August 29, 2011


photo by Jofus | JoeTheDoughvia PhotoRee

Manchester United showed no mercy yesterday, issuing an historic beatdown to an undermanned Arsenal side, and inflicting the worst defeat their North London rivals have suffered in 115 years of playing football.  8-2 only begins to tell part of the tale, as the game's final scoreline could easily have been much worse.  United dominated the Gunners from whistle to whistle, and goals flew in from every which angle and player: Rooney (3), Young (2), Welbeck, Nani, and Park all added their name to the scorer's sheet in a match that inflicted a significant psychological blow to Arsenal and their beleaguered manager, Arsene Wenger, damage from which it could take the Londoners some significant amount of time to recover.

Playing as if they were concerned the local headlines would revolve around their Noisy Neighbors' 5-1 victory over Spurs earlier in the afternoon, United dominated possession against their rivals and time and again displayed the lightning quick pace and breathtaking offensive moves for which the young side is quickly becoming noted.  Indeed, it's difficult to note any even insignificant deficiencies in the Champions effort on Sunday, with the only disappointment in the match for United fans certain to be Danny Welbeck's hamstring pull midway through the first half.

Highlights from the contest are numerous, so instead of rehashing what would be a very  lengthy list I'll leave you with some general impressions from the match:

o Didn't Ashley Young look dangerous this afternoon?  I have to admit I wasn't completely sold on the winger when we signed him earlier this summer, but my admiration for him is growing -- and quickly.  Young's two goals on the afternoon were pure class, with his opening strike curving brilliantly around the outstretched arm of Arsenal 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny before bulging the top corner of the net and leaving me momentarily speechless.  If Young keeps up with his current form, Antonio Valencia and Nani are going to be duking out the starting role on the opposite wing, a situation I never imagined would occur.

o Wayne Rooney is going to have a special season, which is really saying something.  Rooney's free kicks today were stunning in their audacity and pinpoint in their accuracy.  With a five golazo return from only three matches, Rooney is going to mount a serious charge at the Golden Boot, and is clearly relishing the newfound license to roam he's been granted by Sir Alex.  

o David De Gea came up big on the day, stoning Robin Van Persie's penalty at the one point in the game at which the day's result was still in doubt.  It was great to see Phil Jones and the other defenders run over to congratulate their 'keeper, as they understand intuitively how much the stop will boost the newboy's confidence.  De Gea quickly followed the penalty save with another duo of stirring stops on shots by Andrei Arshavin and Robin Van Persie, and displayed a superbly strong wrist to push another shot by Van Persie wide of the target in the second half.

o It's a shame that Danny Welbeck pulled his hamstring and will now miss 4-5 weeks.  The young Englishman was showing that he learned quite a bit while on loan at Sunderland last season, and more than justifying Sir Alex's faith in him with yet another delightful headed goal.  One wonders how long it may be for Welbeck to return to the starting lineup -- especially with Chicharito now seemingly ready to return full-time -- and if he can rediscover the level at which he was playing after a layoff of several weeks.

o It's not entirely easy to figure out if United is THAT good this season, or if today's result  was due more to Arsenal's sorry current state of affairs.  Absorbing their worst loss in 115 years gives you some sense of how bad things have gotten at the Emirates -- and in a shockingly short amount of time.  Although Wenger was right to largely keep his mouth shut after the match, he did take time to note that Arsenal were a bit light on available bodies for the game this afternoon.  Carl Jenkinson looked completely overmatched prior to his Red Card -- the third in three games for the Londoners, and Andrei Arshavin was very fortunate, twice, to not become the fourth player sent packing early -- and newboys Traore and Coquelin and veterans such as Andrei Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky weren't far behind him with their performances -- or lack of such.

o Arsenal's defense showed a shocking lack of discipline today.  Not only did the attempt to hold a high line consistently throughout the game -- even after repeatedly getting hammered by a rampant United side -- the Gunners were completely unable to hold their positions to deploy the strategy correctly.  It's one thing to be slow-footed and beaten for pace -- it's another to be caught repeatedly out of position so many times in the same game.

o Anderson's scoop of the ball which led to Welbeck's opener was another eye opener.  A la Paul Scholes' pass that unlocked Milan a few seasons back, Anderson became the living embodiment of my favorite basketball expression, displaying "a soft touch for such a big man."  Anderson is another player who seems to be enjoying the season so far and relishing the more regular starting role he's been handed.  Anderson also unleashed one of the strongest corner kicks I've seen from a United player in the recent past: is this something he could be doing more often?

o I'm enjoying immensely Piers Morgan's very public meltdown on Twitter over the past two weeks.  Even though I could never stomach a full-time follow of the large-moobed talking head, enough of his lamentations and gnashing of teeth have been re-tweeted on my timeline for me to get a sense of his whinging, and have brought a smile to my face on a number of occasions.

This is a pumped up farlieonfootie for August 29.

1 comment:

  1. First, let's not get too crazy about all that young talent. Ashley Young, whom you bought, has changed the game for United.

    Second, you can sugar coat it all you like, FOF, but De Gea is liability. When your teammates jump on you for stopping a half-hit penalty shot you can almost feel the pity and the "we better help him get some confidence." The goal between his legs at the half was also weak. United fans should hope the City / United darby doesn't come down to Hart vs. De Gea, as the two are not in the same league. Well, actually they are in the same league. I guess I meant that figuratively.

    Con todo mi odio,

    Carlos T.

    BTW, still looking for the "uncool" reaction box for your articles.