EPL Review: 10 Things Arsenal Fans Learned from Manchester United's Thrashing
Manchester United eight, Arsenal two: The unbelievable scoreline that these two footballing giants, who were once so fierce and so close, played out at Old Trafford. Manchester United were devastating whilst Arsenal were lacklustre, and that's being kind.
Yet, few could have envisioned such a scoreline and such a destruction by Sir Alex Ferguson's men. Granted, few gave Arsenal much hope as they entered the encounter. Arsene Wenger's squad has been decimated by injuries and suspensions since the 2011/2012 season commenced, and his lineup in comparison to his rivals simply did not have the quality to contest.
But to see a team, which has become such a presence in English and European football, emulate a reserve side was unexpected. There is no denying things have worsened for the Gunners' since their horrible demise late last season.
Captain Cesc Fabregas completed his inevitable move to Barcelona, and Samir Nasri refused to remain at a side "incapable" of securing silverware and departed to Manchester City. These moves ensured the once graceful and efficient Arsenal attack had been taken down a notch.
With Wenger tentative to spend this summer, naturally it has lead to a side considerably weaker, on paper, to that of Arsenal's big-spending rivals. But few can express just quite what occurred for Arsenal on Sunday.
Accepting that suspensions and injuries played a role is certainly true, but no Arsenal side should be quite humiliated in they way Manchester United tore apart Arsene Wenger's young side.
BleacherReport establishes 10 things World Football learned in the 8-2 thrashing.
10. Carl Jenkinson Is Struggling and Wenger Should Not Have Sold Emmanuel Eboue
Not one Arsenal play performed impressively. Every man in blue conceded possession, missed tackles and contributed to the downfall yesterday. However, teenage defender Carl Jenkinson was arguably the worst for the morally drained Gunners.
The Englishman was absolutely tortured and tormented by United's £16 million summer acquisition Ashley Young. The winger managed two brilliant goals in a sensational display, but was not exactly put to much test by Jenkinson, who was eventually sent off for two bookable offences.
The 19-year-old arrived at Arsenal this summer from League One side Charlton Athletic. A somewhat surprise signing, The Addicks' officials were stunned the teenager had been targeted by Wenger as Jenkinson had little experience.
Jenkinson has by no means been immensely poor during the opening exchanges of the season, but it is obvious the Englishman is not a suitable deputy to Bacary Sagna at right back. It is known that Wenger has a progression plan for the Finland U-19 captain, which involves eventually moving him into a centre half role in the coming years, similar to Tony Adams and Steve Bould.
Jenkinson was acquired because highly-rated youngster Havard Nordtveit departed the Emirates in January after failing the gain first team opportunities. He is now thriving in the German Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The Englishman's arrival enabled Wenger to offload fan favourite Emmanuel Eboue, whose presence could have restricted the damage against United.
9. Arsenal No Longer Possess a Lethal Penalty Taker
Arsenal were not completely dominated. The Gunners did have periods of possession in which chances did arise. However, Wenger's men were guilty of being wasteful—none more so than Robin van Persie's penalty miss.
The opportunity came after Jonny Evans fouled Theo Walcott when United still only had a slender one-nil advantage in the first half. The Arsenal captain failed to strike with David De Gea making an easy save to his left.
It is not to say the game would have been completely different had Arsenal scored.
However, it is clear that there is now a distinct lack of clinical penalty takers. With Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, the two first choice penalty takers, both departed from the Emirates, van Persie is the strongest option and despite his lethal left foot, the Dutchman evokes uncertainty when he steps up.
The next best options fall to Tomas Rosicky, whose penalty miss against Sunderland last season ended up hurting the Gunners, and Andrei Arshavin.
Penalties are so minor yet so vital to a season, and Wenger needs a player who can provide that composure from the penalty spot.
8. Francis Coquelin Is a Promising Prospect
Arsenal's contrast in quality and depth was epitomized in two ways.
Firstly, the bench: Sir Alex Ferguson possessed a renowned array of quality in Ryan Giggs, Javier Hernandez, Park Ji-Sung and Dimitar Berbatov. Wenger had four players who had never started a Premier League match, a teenager who had never played professionally in world football and not one player who boasted more than thirty EPL appearances.
It was also summed up with Wenger playing little-known Frenchman Francis Coquelin. A number of Arsenal fans commented on how they were not sure who the youngster was. With renowned defensive midfielder Alexandre Song and deputy Emmanuel Frimpong both suspended, Wenger was forced to give the 20-year-old his Premier League debut and first start for Arsenal.
The Frenchman had spent last season on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Lorient FC, where Coquelin thrived and evoked many praises from followers. Considering the young gun was thrown into such circumstances against such a side, Coquelin performed admirably.
One of the brighter players in the Arsenal side before being substituted in the 62nd minute, the former Laval midfielder did not look out of his depth and made a number of vital interceptions and tackles while conveying impressive energy.
Arsenal fans are sick of hearing about another exciting prospect, but it is promising to see the defensive midfield position at Arsenal boasting plenty of potential.
7. Tomas Rosicky Needs to Be Replaced in the Arsenal Midfield
With 2010/2011 PFA Young Player of the Year Jack Wilshere still nursing an ankle injury sustained in preseason and Wenger still unable to secure his desired, high calibre midfield signing, Tomas Rosicky was forced to again start in the Arsenal midfield and again diminished his reputation.
The 30-year-old, whose ability has eroded after a severe knee injury in 2008, is well past his prime and no longer possess his incisive passing, movement and ferocious shot. The Czech playmaker does possess adequate leadership, but it is clear that a midfield signing is greatly required.
6. Robin Van Persie Either Needs to Be Partnered Up Front or Shifted Back
Captain Robin van Persie still managed to find his way onto the score sheet despite Arsenal's feeble attacking efforts. Last season, the Dutchman amassed an incredible eighteen league goals in seventeen appearances, but it is hard to envision van Persie achieving half of that without the presence of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Deployed as the lone striker, the former Feyenoord sharpshooter simply does not possess the work rate and physical and aerial presence to sufficiently thrive for the Gunners. With the Arsenal attack greatly limited at this point in time, van Persie needs to enforce his creativity and composure by receiving more of the ball.
There is not enough support for the Dutchman as the lone striker. The solution for Wenger is to partner van Persie by altering the three-man front line to an overall 4-4-2 formation, or playing his captain in a more attacking midfield role.
5. Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna Are Vital to the Arsenal Defence
Quite frankly, the Arsenal defensive line would not have looked out of place in the reserve leagues such was the performance and calibre of the back four.
Imposing Swiss defender Johan Djourou appeared slow and inexperienced despite his extensive time in the Premier League. Laurent Koscielny was clearly uncomfortable and out of place on the left side of the central defence and Armand Traore simply could not compete with United's pace and movement.
However, considering key defenders and leaders Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen were both unavailable due to injuries, the Arsenal defence can be given some sympathy. The duo are world class, and their presence and natural leadership is so vital to the Arsenal defensive line.
If Wenger can implement his promised defensive acquisition and maintain Sagna's and Vermaelen's fitness alongside Kieran Gibbs', then the Arsenal defensive line is capable of defending the Gunners to a title challenge.
4. Arsene Wenger Needs to Show Faith in Young Wingers and Drop Andrei Arshavin
A large number of Arsenal fans have called for Andrei Arshavin's demotion or even transfer for a number of months now. The Russian dynamo, who cost Wenger £15 million in 2008, a club record, often appears lazy and uninterested during games, and his inability to track back and defend frustrates the Gunners faithful.
Now at 30, the Russian appears to be diminishing in ability and effectiveness with each game. Wenger has worked tirelessly to sign both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton for £12 million and gain Ryo Miyaichi a work permit. The two teenagers are highly rated by Arsenal officials, yet Wenger continues to utilize Arshavin.
3. It Is Not Total Panic for Arsenal
Alexandre Song suspended, Gervinho suspended, Emmanuel Frimpong suspended, Bacary Sagna injured, Kieran Gibbs injured, Jack Wilshere injured, Thomas Vermaelen injured. Those are seven vital members missing from Arsenal's squad, each contributors to both attack and defence. Experience, quality and leadership was all missing due to these absences.
Any team that encounters Manchester United at Old Trafford without three key defenders, two key midfielders and a key attacker is always going to struggle, albeit not to an extent of eight conceded goals. However, the players will return and factors will only improve for the Gunners.
It is not time to go into to total panic as things can only brighten.
2. Arsene Wenger Must Spend and Sign in the Coming Days
There are three days left in the summer transfer window. If Arsenal are to regain some hope in 2011/2012, then Arsene Wenger must spend his £80 million transfer budget.
The Frenchman is correct in his desire to secure three players before the summer terminates.
A tough, experienced and natural leader is needed in both the defence and midfield, alongside a natural playmaker to compensate for Nasri and Fabregas's departures. Furthermore, a clinical striker is needed, not unknown South Korean captains.
However, if Wenger is unable to sign his desired players, provided fitness is maintained to an extent, the Gunners so possess the ability to challenge for a top four place. But it will not be easy.
1. Time for Arsene Wenger to Go?
It has been a tumultuous summer in which Wenger has not sufficiently addressed the problems at hand. One could argue the Arsenal board is stubborn and unhelpful, but in truth Wenger has managed Arsenal poorly in recent times.
His vision of youth turning into world class stars simply has not worked, and his inability to improve and fix his defensive woes has haunted the Gunners for sometime now. There were chances to sign Juan Mata, Ashley Young, Jose Enrique and a number of others. Yet, the Frenchman was unable to secure any of them.
Arsene Wenger has done well at Arsenal. He is a brilliant coach and is destined to be the North London giants' greatest ever manager. But is his time up?