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Arsenal-Man Utd: We Get Off Our Arse, and How!

Ashish WesleySenior Analyst INovember 11, 2008

My last post was after the disheartening fiasco of a week ago against the Spuds and then the subsequent loss to Stoke.

It was shattering, and I was looking to the Fenerbahce game to get some of that frustration out, a release I thought we definitely needed, and heck wasn't it the Manks who came a visiting on Saturday?

But as it panned out, we were not really keyed into the game and it was another frustrating performance.

So it wasn't the best lead up by any stretch of the imagination to a day I would "ring in my calender", to quote Le Prof. We were seriously depleted going in to the game. Already without Van Persie, who was suspended, we would also be without the Togonator who should be out for three weeks. To add to that, a big cloud also hung over Theo, Gallas and Bacary Sagna.

Didn't really know how the boys would react to the visit of the defending champions. Would we step up? Or would we roll over? I hadn't the faintest idea. "Right, let's 'ave it then", was the most appropriate thing for me to say going into this one.

A loss would re-affirm all that has been said in most Arsenal forums including this one, about the lads inexperience and general lack of quality in key areas, and oh the character, or the lack thereof.

A win on the other hand would set us back on track, would help us forget some previous sins, and let us focus on the rest of the season ahead. Some Gooners were likely to accept a draw as a good return for us, given the recent outcomes.

It does not require infinite wisdom to work out what formation Wenger would adopt for this game. Unsurprisingly it was the lone Dane striker, Nicklas Bendtner deployed upfront, with a five-man midfield.

Surprisingly though, Theo was declared fit to take his place on the right wing, with Sagna behind him on the right and Cap'n Gallas partnered at the back by Silvestre. Diaby, Denilson and Nasri made up the other numbers in midfield.

Gael Clichy marshalled the most despicable of all divers, an unholy diver if you will, at left back. While on the subject, give this a go, it won't disappoint. And oh Almunia resumed his position between the sticks.

Here in Bangalore, we got some of the Gooners together to watch the big game at SBX Sports Bar, Marathalli. There were plenty of the poseur 'Untied' fans as well. So the atmosphere was unlike any other I had witnessed at a pub before.

Right from the off it was tingly neck stuff. But some things were different from the Arsenal performances we were accustomed to in recent weeks. We were right up for it, right from the off, getting stuck in, putting a foot in, fighting for the 50-50s. We were not going to let them boss us, not on our home patch!

We showed desire and resolve and were going to go down, if we were that is, with a fight. If United expected an easy outing against a young Arsenal side, who were in the worst form in years—they definitely had another thing coming.

There was a scary moment early on when a dodgy back pass from Silvestre was handled by Almunia. Luckily nothing came off the subsequent free kick. We created chances early on with Nasri dancing his way along the left, with Clichy to back him up on the overlap.

Two good crosses with Bentdner as the target were floated into the box from the left, but one missed the target narrowly and the other was put over by the young Dane. Agonising. I could feel a goal coming for us though.

The crowd was much buoyed by the response of the Gunners, and were in good voice, the best I've probably heard at Ashburton. Needless to say I was really thrilled to bits about the response by the team. It really was so awesome, after all the dark days we've witnessed in the recent past, not to mention the criticism.

The Mancs had their chances as well, but surprisingly their sharp shooters were a bit shite all night, fortunate for us! When the doubly damned (A Spud and then turning out in ManUsa colours, what a hideous combination) Berbatov did get the ball past Almunia in goal, it was from an offside position.

It was going our way so far. We pressed and probed as both teams forayed forward. The visitors more on the break. They had one beautiful move where they cut our defense to ribbons, and that was really worrying. But it was soon all forgotten when a Fabregas freekick on the right was Cleared by Vidic, whose header found Samir Nasri, who took a couple of touches and drove it goal-ward past the crowd.

The ball took a deflection off Gary Neville and beat the flapping Van Der Sar. Cue Chaos! Insanity. One nil to the Arsenal! And Oh, Manky shite nil. Many people think it was a fortuitous goal. They better be kidding! It was a goal fair and square and on the balance you would probably say we were more deserved leaders than the Manchester lads.

This was in the 22nd. You will have to depend on the match report here for a better, comprehensive account of the game. Manure did have a couple of chances, Park forcing a save out of Almunia, who I thought was outstanding at times.

As the minutes ticked by, you get the feeling it was going to be our day. The signs were there, our defense improved with every passing minute, Rooney failed to hit the target when presented, and we were mixing it toe-to-toe, even bossing it for large periods of the first half, no mean task, I'll have you know. Sample this, the average age of our front six was just 21, eat that!

So we went in at the break with our heads held high, and a well deserved lead. That was just half the job done, ManUSA are known to be a second half team. So we all knew, as nerve racking and end to end the first half was, it would be a walk in the park compared to the second half.

Amazingly young Nasri, a debutante in the Man U-Arsenal ruckus' had other ideas, latching on to some neat work and space created in midfield by Fab, he found himself just inside the box with Van Der Sar to beat. He drilled it past the Dutchman, into the top left hand corner! Oh, now your talking!!

2-0 to the Arsenal and Nasri wrote his name up in lights, again in the 48th. Well, well well, an unlikely result looked well and truly on now. What ointment this win would be, if we pulled it off. Could we?

A nervous 40 some minutes ensued, some decent saves by Almunia helped us along the way. Some Surprisingly astute defending by the back four, played a pivotal part.

A revitalised midfield stood defiant, as they broke forth in search of more goals. While they all played a part in preventing us from conceding. Some of the most biased refereeing I have seen by Howard Webb ensured that United always, and I do mean always got their decisions, and broke up our play. Aargh!!

The Manks did have their chances though, Ronaldo, the unholy diver cited above, missed from close-range. It was nervy stuff, but the Manks never really looked like scoring. But this was the Manky shite at two goals down, of course they were going to come at you and they did.

In fairness we really did our bit to keep them at bay. We survived all until the 89th when sub, Da Silva unleashed a rocket past Fabianski, who came on for the injured Almunia after taking a boot to the face from Carrick, also doubly damned you might note.

Hmmm you thought, as you wrung your hands and shook your head in utter and sheer fright! The celebrations were put on ice, could we collapse again? The palpitations ensued, six minutes of injury time? six whole minutes! It seemed like the longest six minutes of my life.

We survived, we learnt something from the Spurs game and didn't attack, not as much anyway, and protected the ball better.

That's it! Full time. We had kicked the Manky shite where it mattered most, and how! What a game! What a result.



The Manky dissing that was on all game reached a crescendo. We really let them have it in the pub. And it was pure, unbridled joy! It was one of those feelings that you will savour for the rest of your life. You live for these sorts of days!

I was so happy. Happy for every Arsenal Supporter who stood by the team through the harrowing last weeks. The players who pulled it off. Brilliant. And for Arsene, how sweet it must be for him. How sweet indeed!

The press wrote us off, some of us Gooners didn't think the team had it in them. But the players showed the strongest character to prove their detractors wrong. A real dagger it was.

A complete performance by the young Arsenal team. Absolutely proud of the lot of them! while Nasri will, rather deservedly, get all the plaudits. It was a proper shut up and dominant job by the entire Arsenal team. Each one of them did us proud!

The past disappointments were forgotten. The felling of the Manure will be long remembered. And now for me, two days on, I still can't stop smiling!

It's a bit late to say savour it Gooners, but I know some of ya still are! Come on you Gunners, lets kick on from here!!

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