Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United, 3 Nov 2007

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Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United – Gallas own-goal, Fabregas, Ronaldo, Gallas.

Phew. Fantastic second half, the game kept building up and just exploded at the end. Both sides deserved the result – United will curse their defending for both goals (what was Hargreaves doing ball-watching when he should have covered the far post where Gallas scored from) and Arsenal will wonder why they couldn’t break through, although to be fair United’s defending was quite good apart from those two goals.

And while we talk about the players, spare a thought for the officials. Howard Webb did well, and the linesman made the right goal at the end, crunch time, the guy should really be commended for his efforts.

Who will take away the most from this game? Both teams have a lot to take away – Arsenal for the way they refused to give up (United-like) and United for the way they played this game away from home and almost won it.

FT: It’s over, 2-2, just about equal on effort and performance. Kudos to the linesman for pointing out that there had been a goal.

92: One minute left, this looks to be a draw. During the goal celebration Fabregas can be seen shouting ‘fuck off’ in Rio’s face, emotional yes, but not something he should be doing.

90: 3 minutes of added time, will Fabregas —- what the fuck? Arsenal goal, Gallas scores.

89: Bad defending by United, the bouncing ball escapes Rio and then O’Shea, Eduardo shoots wide though.

88: Evra falls badly while defending against Walcott, but recovers in a few seconds. Heading for stoppage time this one, 3 minutes?

87: Nicely won foul by Ronaldo, who goes down pretending to be hit on the head when he was anything but. Shameful? Yes.

86: United are good enough to play keep-ball, but something tells me they’ll be going for goal. Not enough noise at the Emirates though, maybe Arsenal need their 12th man to show up?

84: Evra’s defensive clearance kisses the top of the goal, lucky bastards (all of us).

83: Can Arsenal get a goal? I think they can, but with Saha playing up front and Carrick offering solidity in the middle, it’s going to be difficult.

81: GOAAALLLLL!!!! Great move by United, Evra runs on to Saha’s backpass unmarked, cuts it back for Ronaldo and he taps it in, fantastic.

80: Arsenal subs – Gilberto and Eduardo on for Hleb and Rosicky.

79: Poor corner, Vidic cleaned out by Sagna, lands on his back and needs medical attention.

78: Not sure what you expect me to tell you at this point – reporting failed attacks from both sides gets a bit tedious after 5 minutes. United win a corner thanks to Ronaldo.

76: Personally I would have swapped O’Shea for Evra, or brought Nani on for Giggs. Now we have no attacking fullback on the right and no winger on the left.

75: Manchester United subs – Saha on for Tevez, Carrick on for Anderson. Now we’re talking.

74: Arsenal sub – Walcott on for Eboue.

73: Ronny runs with the ball across the front of Arsenal’s penalty area, no Carrick or Scholes to play one-twos off, so it all comes to nothing.

72: Manchester United and Arsenal keep probing, but perhaps they need more than the over the bar potshots and long-range punts that these players are trying right now. Walcott warming up.

70: Manchester United sub – O’Shea on for Brown.

69: Time for Wenger to bring on Walcott for Rosicky methinks.

66: Back and forth, but nothing substantial from either side.

63: Good chance for United and Rooney heads it wide. Arsenal restart, Eboue does well on the right, Hleb tries a shot from outside the box but it’s over the top. Yes, Arsenal are shooting from afar.

62: Who will Fergie bring on? Nani? Carrick? How about both, taking Anderson and Giggs off? Saha’s there too, but would you sacrifice anyone for him?

60: Arsenal with a clear upper hand in the second half, United need to calm down and a major component of that will be Anderson and Hargreaves.

58: Fab gets through the wall but it’s curves into EVDS. If that had gone straight that might have been a goal.

57: Anderson gives away a free-kick at the edge of the box. Silly. United are not closing down as much as they should.

56: United missing Scholes – somehow they’re much calmer when he’s on the pitch, although that’s probably just my imagination.

53: Things are calmer now – United pushing forward as before, but with no luck on the left side as Giggs can’t get past Sagna.

51: A dubious penalty shout, A possible foul in the build-up the first goal, a defensive error leading to the second. Of course, we’re discounting the quality football from both sides, but that’s how this game will be remembered.

49: If there’s an inquisition, it must be asked of the United defence why van der Sar needed to come out and block Ade.

47: GOOOAALLLLLL!!!! FUCK!!!! Fabregas scores for Arsenal, EVDS comes out to stop Adebayor, Sagna does excellent work to whip it in, EVDS out of position and its Rio on the goal line, can’t stop Fab.

45: United kick off.

Half-Time: Manchester United lead 1-0 at the Emirates thanks to a Rooney goal. Here’s the video, in case you want to see it again.

Watching Arsenal – I’m a bit surprised that Rosicky hasn’t done much, but the major disappointment would be the lack of impact Ade and Fab have had. Arsenal will be far more attacking in the second half, should be interesting.

Highlights of the game, going back to the penalty call for the shirt tug on Hleb by Vidic – really, I doubt that Hleb was taken off balance by that tug and the way he fell down it wasn’t as if he was wrestled down or anything. For penalties you need the ref to be sure, this wasn’t something the ref could be nailed on about, so while it’s dubious, it’s not something even close to a definite penalty.

Foul by Brown in the buildup? Shoulder block more like it, but discuss in the comments.

Overall the half had Arsenal dominating in terms of aggression but United were quite good in holding them back and like I said earlier, it took something special – this time from Brown and Ronaldo, and while people will talk about the deflection, you don’t always have the luxury of perfect goals, it happens to the best players, you know.

45 + 1: No point in bitching about the build-up, we’ll get enough time at half time to figure it out. Oh wait, the whistle blows.

45: GOOOOAAAALLLL!!!!!! Brown nutmegs an Arsenal defender, passes through to Ronaldo, who whips in a cross, Rooney taps it in. United are ahead right at the end of the first half.

44: United players performing their defensive duties quite well – Hargreaves and Ronny especially (along with the back four). perhaps a fit Saha would have helped with his height? You could argue that United should be keeping possession more but Giggs is being marked very well and that’s cramping them a lot as he doesn’t go wide at all.

41: United are solid defensively but they’re sitting back far too much. One hard man short, I think. Anderson should drop back a bit in my view and play quarterback and Hargeaves should be pushing forward more. Still, away game, gotta give the boys some time.

39: Theatrics by Anderson to get Fabregas booked. Now all we need is for Ronaldo to do the same to Fab, right? Not good, not good Anderson.

36: Anderson asks the ref to book an Arsenal player for tackling Ronaldo – not good to see the United man waving the card in Webb’s face, lucky not to get booked for that.

35: Fabregas whips it in, Gallas heads it, EVDS saves with his feet, corner and United get a good break. Eventually, United clear from the corner.

34: United win a corner. Good work by Ronny against Clichy. Arsenal clear and break but Hleb can’t get past Anderson. Hleb falls over conveniently and wins Arsenal a free kick.

31: Remember how I used to criticise Evra for being out of position and putting his teammates under pressure? Giggs is doing the same now, and Sagna / Ade / Eboue are finding it too easy on United’s left flank. Over on the right side Ronny is tracking back a bit better.

30: Webb plays advantage then calls play back when Anderson gets tackled again. Rooney wastes it though by taking it too quickly.

28: United are growing into this game, Hargreaves and Anderson slowly imposing themselves by keeping possession and passing it around in midfield.

26. United pass it out of their half, but apparently it’s not as significant as Arsenal passing the ball out of their half, which every commentator feels a need to point out.

25: Hargreaves goes through Hleb and earns himself a yellow card.

24: Contrary to popular expectations, this isn’t going to be a game where one player bosses and dominates a game. No one on the pitch is THAT good, and the opposition defences in both cases are quite good.

23: I’ve been impressed by Anderson and Sagna so far, both are playing quite well.

22: Quick update, in case you haven’t noticed. 1 – franky’s unavailable, so it’s me, Ahmed, filling in. 2 – still a United fan at the helm, so excuse the transparent attempts at unbiased commentary.

21: Adebayor pushes Evra down using his height and arm while going for a header, ref sees right through it and calls them back.

19: Evra needs to get his tackling under control, he’s already on a yellow and it’s not going to help United one bit if he keeps tackling like this.

17: Great flow to the game, but I don’t like the fact that a) Giggs is pulled infield too far and Ronaldo still cuts in too much – although with his pace and skills one shouldn’t be complaining. Giggs pulling in leaves United weak on the left, and Tevez and Rooney are taking turns covering.

17: Oh, so close. Giggs could have tapped that one in, but the ball came too fast to him.

16: Cynical tackle by Evra on Adebayor, yellow card. Poor positioning and timing.

15: Hleb falls over in the United box, Arsenal claim that Vidic had pulled him down but replays show that despite a tug on Hleb’s shirt, Vidic wasn’t responsible for it.

13: Arsenal do have a slight upper-hand in the midfield, but they don’t look so solid at the back and they’d be wary of pushing too forward lest United snatch a goal on the counter.

12: Watching 10 minutes of this game, you have to wonder why ‘slick passing’ gets more drooling than lightning-fast offense?

9: United waste a corner, Ade wastes a header although he was too far away.

7: Pretty passing football isn’t going to be enough to beat United, unless someone makes a mistake. Arsenal need something special, either from Ade or Hleb or Fab. I don’t think Rosicky will get enough time on the ball, what with the flying tackles and all.

5: Brown touches Rosicky from behind and he topples over like a certain Portuguese we love to vilify. It’s warming up now, as Arsenal push forward into United’s half and Anderson, Rio and co push them back.

3: It’s quite impressive how Hleb has matured for Arsenal this season. Of course, the same Arsenal fans praising him wouldn’t give him a second chance in the summer.

2: Does anyone really think either club will run away with the game? Of course not. On the other hand, predicting that this will be a cagey game is pretty much like predicting that Arsenal and United will be in the top four at the end of the season.

KO: Hleb and Adebayor kickoof for Arsenal, and immediately its deep into United’s half, only to run tamely out for a goal kick.

I’m predicting a Manchester United win. Yea 🙂 And for anyone who says Fabregas is the key player of the game cleary hasn’t seen Howard Webb prancing around a football pitch.

Welcome to the live blog. The match is about to kick off, the players are coming out, let’s get started.

Team Lineups

Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue, Flamini, Fabregas, Rosicky, Hleb, Adebayor.
Subs: Lehmann, Diarra, Eduardo, Walcott, Silva.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Anderson, Hargreaves, Giggs, Rooney, Tevez.
Subs: Kuszczak, Louis And His Amazing Powder Bones, Carrick, Nani, O’Shea.

Match Information:

Arsenal vs Manchester United
Emirates Stadium
Saturday 3rd November 2007
Kickoff: 12:45

Arsenal v Manchester United Preview

Arsenal take on Manchester United in a top of the table clash that could, if Arsenal were to win, give the Gunners a significant advantage in the Premier League title race. Manchester United have, after a slow start, picked up the pace and will be looking to cut down the points deficit (Arsenal have a game in hand and with their form, virtually 3 points in the bag) and pull themselves level.

Manchester United lost twice to Arsenal last season in the league but still managed to win the Premier League title. This season, a similar performance will almost certainly condemn Manchester United to second place at best unless Arsenal have a Newcastle-style meltdown (which they’ve had in the past, but it’s not something Manchester United can rely on). A win for both sides is a must, and hopefully we’ll see an entertaining game and above all, quality football from the two sides that play the best football in the Premier League.

Also See:

Interview with former Arsenal player, Adrian Clarke.
The Arsenal View: Red Ranter Chats with ArseBlogger

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