The most disappointing thing about last night for me is that Manchester United were equally as poor as Arsenal. If the attacking players had performed last night then we would have destroyed the Mancs. Sadly, the requisite effort was missing from a team that seemed to lack belief in itself (with the notable exceptions of Wojciech Szczesny and Jack Wilshere). It seems that every time we play either United or Chelsea we hear Wenger say that this is the players opportunity to prove they have what it takes. Sadly they go on to prove that they probably haven't got that vital missing element.
There can be no doubt that this years Title is there for the taking - even now a consistent run by any of the sides at the top would take them far out in front. We are a little unfortunate that we came up against a United team that was able to choose from its first-choice centre-backs (though Rio Ferdinand is now seemingly getting the benefits of being England Captain that have been afforded to John Terry and Steven Gerrard and Alan Shearer, but never got as far as Tony Adams), but that doesn't excuse the lack of penetration from our talented attackers. Tomas Rosicky's continued involvement in this squad leaves me at a loss as to why he is there. Arshavin has regressed in the last week having shown some signs that he was on the up again - his lack of application last night was scary really. Samir Nasri was probably our most dangerous player again, but that's not saying much to be honest. In a first-half where we were really poor we had one or two chances to get in behind, but sadly the ball was usually at the feet of Alex Song and therefore ended up in the keeping of the Manchester United defence or midfield.
As bad as we were in the first-half we should have had a penalty for Rafael's blatant foul on Chamakh in the six-yard box - never in a million years were we going to get a decision in front of the Stretford End from Howard Webb. How does this man continue to referee? Howard Webb is a cheat. Howard Webb is dishonest. Howard Webb is an absolute bloody disgrace. But what should we really expect from a man whose day job is a police officer? How can it be that both commentators can draw attention to the fact that Darren Fletcher barged in to the referee (not to mention the vile invective he was directing toward the inept officials), yet Sky failed to show a replay? How can it be that Fletcher can barge the referee yet escape censure from him? Like I say, Howard Webb is a cheat. I'd lover to produce a long DVD of incidents (starting with the Carling Cup Final of 2007) to show what a corrupt, anti-Arsenal, joker this guy is. Every marginal decision went their way. We had four players booked, they had none - I defy anyone to watch Fletcher play and believe he shouldn't have been sent-off for his numerous fouls and that "assault" on the referee. Michael Carrick managed to injure Jack Wilshere, yet win the free-kick for the challenge. Then, of course, there was the penalty decision (albeit made for the referee on this occasion by a mickey-mouse linesman). Don't get me started. As badly as Arsenal played, it's difficult to get a result when you play against both the opposition and the referee.
I said on here last night that Gael Clichy had one more chance at redemption last night, if he could keep Nani quiet. Sadly, after Koscielny once again lost a header he should have won easily (his only mistake of the evening - but one is enough in any game, just ask Cygan or Senderos or Stepanovs), Clichy retreated more quickly than the combined armies of Italy and France to allow Nani a shot at goal. The deflection off the fast-moving (moving backwards that is) Clichy fell fortunately for Park, who I will never believe was going for goal with that header, and we were 1-0 behind. If Gibbs can ever find a way of staying fit then Clichy's Arsenal career should surely be over. A replacement in January would not go amiss for me. It's such a shame that Ashley Cole became such an arsehole, because with him in the back-four we would be so much better.
I just wish the players had shown the same attitude on the pitch as Jack Wilshere. Don't get me wrong, the boy wonder didn't play his best game last night but he definitely had the right mind-set, particularly with regards to Patrice Evra. The minute he got the chance to do so, Jack put the shithouse on his arse and followed it up with plenty of verbal. This contrasted sadly with Sagna's last-minute challenge on Evra (which really served as a poignant metaphor for the way we lost the physical battle again on the night) when our full-back was the one on his back-side - weak, weak, weak. Alex Song also missed a great chance to make his mark on Evra when he got booked for tripping him - don't trip the cunt, kick him as hard as you can on the knee and make him know that you're real men who won't put up with his particular brand of trash-talking bullshit - after all, you're going to get booked anyway, so make it worthwhile.
Robin Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas might as well have not bothered, such was the paucity of their effort and performance when they were introduced. Contrast this with Theo Walcott, whose sheer effort got Arsenal in to decent positions when he finally replaced the outrageously woeful Arshavin. One of Theo's crosses to the back post should have been buried by Van Persie, but he saw Ferdinand there and shit himself. Quite why it took so long for Walcott to be introduced I really don't understand. Sadly Theo blazed over the bar when presented with what was probably our best chance of the match in injury-time.
Now, in a rare departure, I must speak up for Arsene Wenger. Leaving aside the selection of Rosicky, lack of tactics, and failure to introduce Walcott earlier, I must defend Le Boss from the criticism he is receiving for his post-match comments on the pitch. It is being perceived in the media, and by those that choose to read such crap, that he is making excuses for the defeat by blaming the pitch. These people should listen to what he actually said, and that was that the game was poor because the pitch was poor. Wenger didn't seek to claim that Arsenal were scuppered by the pitch, but that both teams failed to entertain on a technical level because the pitch was in bad condition. You can't argue with that view because the pitch was very poor, and both teams failed to play good football because of it. I'll criticise Wenger at any time, but I won't allow him to be pilloried for things he hasn't said.