|photo by hapal||via PhotoRee|
In any other season, the point earned by Manchester United at The Emirates on Wednesday night in a 0 - 0 draw with Arsenal would have been largely satisfactory. Not a vintage performance from the visiting team, by any means, but a shutout and a solid away point against a team near the top of the League; put aside, for the moment, the fact that last night represented only the fourth time in the last eleven meetings that the Reds have failed to defeat Arsene Wenger's men. But on a night in which both Liverpool and Spurs won yet again, and the gap to a Champions League turned into a gaping 11 point hole, a single point was not enough.
Sure, it will do the trick of taking the immediate pressure off manager David Moyes as the Reds jet off to Dubai for a few days of warm weather training. But with the team appearing more afraid to lose rather than risking it all to win, the performance has to be judged as a relative disappointment yet again. It was the kind of match in which the visitors' performance inspired commentator Lee Dixon to implore the Reds to "keep plugging away" -- an apt description of their muted, agonizingly slow attack.
Herewith, the individual player ratings from the Emirates:
De Gea: The Spaniard kept his concentration and denied Cazorla twice when called upon in the game's waning moments. 6.5
Rafael: Some decent runs but not the best of deliveries. Landed awkwardly and departed at the interval. 5.5
Smalling: A key block at center half and filled in capably on the right after Rafael's injury. 6.0
Vidic: Strong defending in the air and on the ground after a nervy opening. Did just enough to put off Giroud late on. 6.5
Evra: Never looked in synch with Mata on the left. Gave away a stupid free kick near the contest's end, the kind which has hurt the Reds much too often this season. 5.5
Valencia: Lacking in confidence, he appeared unwilling or unable to take on the opposition. Still, a key header off the line to save a goal. 5.5
Cleverley: Played more forward passes but the accuracy was generally lacking. On the silver linings side, better than his last few outings. 5.0
Carrick: Cleaned up a number of messes and gave it all to preserve the shutout. 6.5
Mata: Cut RVP loose in the six yard box, but the Dutchman was unable to take advantage. Unable to find the target on the volley after the break. 6.0
Rooney: Quiet first half other than his all too frequent eruptions at referee Mark Clattenburg. Specialized in the poor first touch all night, but did pick out Van Persie with a delicious cross near the end. 5.5
Van Persie: Missed a golden opportunity early, and was denied late on by a brilliant Sczcesny save. 5.5
Ferdinand (Rafael), 46: Steady. 5.5
Januzaj (Mata), 75: Quiet. 5.5
Young (Valencia), 82: N/A
This is farlieonfootie for February 13.