Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United: Five lessons we learned

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By: Sam P – The Peoples Person – www.thepeoplesperson.com

Toight like a tiger. As expected, the game started at a ferocious pace. Within two minutes, Robin van Persie had a golden chance to put Manchester United ahead after he put himself straight through on goal but uncharacteristically, he scuffed the finish.

For the first 20 minutes, it felt like United were in control. Arsenal fans were grumbling and we had plenty of possession. As the half continued, it turned into a tit-for-tat between both sides with neither posing any real threat in front of goal.

The second half saw much of the same for the first 30 minutes. United were disciplined in defence, kept Arsenal at bay but failed to cause them any trouble up front.

De Gea and Szczesny were busy in the final few minutes with both sides having opportunities to win the game but ultimately, it ended in stalemate.

That is a positive result. Take from that performance what you will but given what we saw against Fulham at the weekend, a point away at the Emirates is a good result.

In any other season from United, there’d be no question that this result is a positive but in the current context, it can easily be seen as another two points dropped and in fairness, Arsenal were there for the taking.

United were extremely disciplined at the back but there was something missing in our build-up play. Carrick and Cleverley were fantastic defensively but in terms of bringing the ball forward, they were lacking.

Either way, United fans were cheering and Arsenal fans were booing at the end.

David Moyes learned from his mistakes. A lot of fans were understandably frustrated at how we played against Fulham but tonight, Moyes set United up in the right way.

Disciplined in defence, we sat deep and aimed to hit Arsenal on the counter. Defensively, we were solid but it was our lack of penetration up front that let the tactics down in the first half.

If Fulham was all about crosses, tonight was the complete opposite. At times, we almost look like we consciously avoided putting a cross in by playing it back inside instead.

Also, Moyes decided to bring Rio Ferdinand for Rafael when he was injured instead of putting a winger on to drop Antonio Valencia into right-back. Good, Valencia has been terrible as a make-shift right-back this year.

Cleverley stood up to the test. Cleverley has been in the press all week after admitting he was hurt at being a scapegoat and he disabled his Twitter account following abuse from some narrow-minded United fans. Tonight, he put in a great shift.

It wasn’t spectacular and it wasn’t trend setting but Cleverley was a real presence in midfield for United. He was energetic and a real nuisance for Arsenal, constantly biting at the heels of Arteta and Wilshere in particular.

Admittedly, he could have done more to help bring United forward but on a night where Cleverley would have been under a lot of pressure, his performance was impressive.

Our front three really aren’t firing. Mata, Rooney and Van Persie – on paper, it is one of the most dangerous three-pronged attacks in the Premier League. There’s so much attacking talent in there.

However, they still haven’t gelled at all so far and it is at least in part because they seem to play so far apart from each other. Instead of being able to play intricate passes, they are always spread out too much.

What United need to do is encourage Mata, Rooney and Van Persie to play towards each other instead of away from each other. Three players as good as good as those need short passes and spaces to exploit in order to really penetrate defences.