Here are the five things I learnt about Arsenal on Monday night:
1. Fabregas is still not ready
A lot of speculation was flying around in the past week as to whether or not the Spaniard would make the trip to Old Trafford. Well apparently the 23-year-old was fit enough for Arsene Wenger to place the midfielder amongst the substitute’s bench and was clearly taken to Manchester as an emergency sub. Cesc Fabregas was eventually introduced in the second-half on approximately the 64th minute as Arsenal chased an equaliser, but just by looking at his movement you could tell he was not fit. The Arsenal captain miss placed nearly every pass that he distributed and was largely ineffective when he came on. Wenger gambled on the Spaniard to produce some magic, unfortunately it was one that never paid off.
2. Good Premier League debut for Szczesny
Wojciech Szczesny was thrown into the firing line last night which had many Arsenal fans questioning Wenger’s decision to play the youngster in such a high-profile game. However, the 20-year-old pulled out a great performance in his first ever Premier League start. The Pole saved a number of shots from Wayne Rooney and co. and as such, was Arsenal’s best player on the night. He may have conceded his first senior goal for the Gunners, but in all fairness there was nothing the youngster could do about it. Nonetheless, a great debut against Manchester United and no doubt a future Arsenal star in the making.
3. Wrong starting line-up
For me, Wenger started with the wrong line-up. The Frenchman opted to adjust a winning team from the one that beat Partizan last Wednesday, with the most significant change being Tomas Rosicky taking Robin Van Persie’s place. I understand the wanting for a more defensive approach as we weren’t required to go for the win, but in all honesty I would have preferred them to at least put a bit more effort into the performance. The defence picks itself at the moment and in fairness did well, but Wenger should have played Van Persie from the start in order to give a bit more threat and fire power in the final third. His starting IX were poor from the get-go and never really got going until the second 45. Had Wenger started with the right, and his strongest team, then the result may have been different.
4. Arsenal do not have big game players
I may get some stick for this statement but Arsenal do not have any big game players in their squad. It seems the players like to talk a good game, but rarely produce against the bigger opposition as proven once again last night. No Arsenal player stood out, especially those of whom have been praised highly over the past weeks. I am not questioning the players’ ability, more of their heart and commitment when it comes to playing against the bigger boys of the Premier League. We were beaten against Chelsea earlier on in the season, and a few weeks ago against Spurs, and now against United. The players need to realise that these games are bigger than any other to fans in terms of bragging rights, and as such, must stand up and be counted for on the finer occasions.
5. Wenger cannot accept defeat gracefully
Can Arsene Wenger ever accept defeat gracefully? In his post match interview, the Frenchman blamed the Old Trafford pitch by stating that the playing surface was ‘very bad’ and was one of the main reasons why his team lost to title rivals Manchester United last night. Wenger it wasn’t the pitch, the fact is you got your tactics wrong and Fergie got his spot on. I think it’s about time the Frenchman accepted defeat gracefully and focused more on his team’s performances in the future rather than the playing surfaces.
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