In typical Arsenal fashion of late, the Gunners slumped to another defeat this evening, this time in the F.A Cup, losing 2-0 to Man United at Old Trafford, crashing out of yet another competition in disappointing circumstances (familiar eh?). It was a game we really should have won - there won't be another chance to catch a United side this weak for a while.
Despite Wenger putting out a strong team nothing went Arsenal's way tonight. Van der Sar rolled back the years and had a fantastic game in the United goal, turning every Arsenal effort away with ease. We had 11 shots on target tonight and just couldn't get one past the Dutch master. He deserved his man of the match award, no doubt. The thing that annoys me about Man United is they somehow, despite what I believe is a pretty shit and one-dimensional team, manage to grind out wins every year and take home trophy after trophy. This season has seen Ferguson's weakest and poorest United squad in a long, long time (in my opinion - they haven't been the same since Ronaldo left). I know they still have Giggs and Scholes etc. but they aren't the same players they once were. Speaking of Scholes, he should have at least been booked, if not sent off for two reckless and classic Scholes tackles late on in the game. That guy will never learn... Anyway, it just astounds me this Arsenal side could not beat a team tonight with the likes of Darron Gibson and John O'Shea out there patrolling the midfield. We are unlikely to have a much better chance at beating the old enemy for a while.
So that's Arsenal out of the F.A Cup, the Carling Cup, and the Champions League, all within the space of two weeks. It feels like these systematic collapses occur every year now, and its getting depressing to watch us limp out of competitions that we could realistically go on and win. Tonight, it looked like Wilshere and Nasri were the only guys really pushing it, the only guys who cared. I love that Jack is out there, every game going 100% trying to win the ball, trying to push forwards. When Cesc eventually leaves us for sunnier pastures (I don't want this, but come on, its probably just a matter of time), I'd love to see Wilshere as captain - he'd be ideal, he just embodies all that is good at Arsenal. But Wilshere's determination and effort is somewhat lacking from other members of the squad (don't get me started on Diaby, I've had just about enough of his lackadaisical play). To rub salt into the wounds, Johan Djourou had to be stretchered off towards the end of match, with a dislocated shoulder that will rule him out for the rest of the season. This means we all get to enjoy the Koscielny - Squillaci partnership once again - YAY!!! At least there was one bright spot from tonight; seeing Aaron Ramsey make his return to the first team was brilliant, and I thought he looked good for the 20 or so minutes he was on the pitch. A class act that guy, I hope he can perform well for the rest of the season.
I'm not gonna run through a play-by-play of the game, you no doubt already know the story by now. We completely dominated possession but we typically switched off when they counter-attacked and that was the difference tonight. I still think we have a better team, and probably deserved a lot more, but you have to give credit where its due and United were absolutely clinical, making the most of their chances. It was disheartening to see us camp outside their penalty area and fail time and again to break them down - it's the same old story now, and I don't know what's going on, in defence and attack, but something is not working. The sad thing is its been this time of year the last few seasons where we've completely collapsed, and its been the same old story in 2011.
Next up is a trip to West Brom in a weeks time, a crucial league game on the 19th March. Since we spectacularly lost to them at home earlier in the season I'd like a really convincing win at the Hawthorns and three important points for the Gunners. Given recent events, I'll take a smash-and-grab 1-0 and no new injuries... got to hope for the best!
Thanks for reading.