Only 3-2, But Arsenal Spanked United

Good Morning all.

As grownups, when Arsenal are rubbish we can put it all into context and step back a bit. But when we’re great, oh boy it will give you a permasmile, and a secret source of joy you can return to whenever you want. 

Because after about two hours of misery, a deft prod by Nketiah at 18:30 on a Sunday evening unleashed a rush of euphoria that will course through my week. I feel I can deal with anything now. 

Step in dog poo? Scuffing excrement off my sole will remind me how we dispatched Man United. Lock myself out? More time to daydream about Arsenal while I wait. 

Man United thought they had a formula, but drew the wrong conclusions from that battling win in September. They should have come here to spoil and nick something like Newcastle.

Instead, with Eriksen and Fernandes in centre, they acted like we would stand aside and wave their expansive counter attacks through. Nah, we’ve spent the last four months making sure that Old Trafford in September was an anomaly, and we kept getting back into position in that first half. We play beautiful stuff, but are sensitive to the ebb and flow of a game, and are happy to surrender possession for shape.

They were also buoyed by the misconception they were in a title race. And thinking this might be the start of something, they brought Alex Ferguson to the carpet. What he witnessed in that final 30 minutes was gruesome, as we rained blows on his club until at last they collapsed. 

For most of the game, this looked like a contest between Man U’s adrenaline, emboldened by a recent winning run, and Arsenal’s control, reinforced by unflinching faith in what we’re doing. 

If you had to pick a moment to sum up Man United’s threat, it was Rashford bundling through in the 55th minute, picking up ricochets before forcing Ramsdale to deal with a deflected shot. 

Rashford is playing the kind of confidence that allows speculative knuckle-balls from distance to swirl into the net. When Man United’s opener went in, someone who hadn’t watched Arsenal this season might assume the game was falling into our opponents’ hands.

But even when individuals aren’t at their best, and I’d say that White, Partey and Martinelli looked off it at times in the first half, our structure and an unsettling hive-mindedness seizes the initiative when it’s there to be taken. 

In those moments there’s too much going on at once—it’s like watching a savant solving a Rubik’s Cube. You want to all slow it down to pinpoint the decisive step.   

Such a phase of play began with the pressable Wan-Bissaka coughing up possession, cueing a swift interchange between Odegaard and Zinchenko, a smart run and perfect cross from Xhaka, and a point-blank header by Nketiah after wriggling clear of Wan Bissaka in the box. 1-1.

Given that White was on a yellow and off form, it was no shock to see Tomiyasu stripped at the start of the second half. What an awesome option he is to have in reserve. And with that swap, Manchester United’s biggest threat was neutered, barring that one run.

In the first ten minutes of the second half we turned up the heat. Odegaard Matrixed Xhaka through on goal, forcing Martinez into a block. They had no time to recover, as Saka worked a yard against Eriksen and blasted low into the corner from 25 yards. Saka cannot be shut down for a full 90. He will always say his piece. 

On the hour, Ramsdale gave up a silly goal to make it 2-2. If we’re going to concede I want it to be a thunderbolt like their first, not a cheap giveaway, in which we know we can do better. 

Their equalizer heralded 30 minutes of ever-intensifying pressure. Saka hit the post, Odegaard’s shot was blocked, Martinelli struck wide from a corner, De Gea saved sharply from Nketiah after McTominay had tried to catch the ball. 

It was nigh-on intolerable. De Gea and Fernandes both hit the turf in the last ten minutes, desperate to eke out the last few minutes, with 90 minutes and an underserved point now in sight. 

And then the pressure finally told. Trossard turned and drove at their backline, laid it off to Zinchenko whose cross found Odegaard. Oh dear God, the ball lurched across the box to Nketiah, who improvised the kind of goal that will mark his career. Twenty years too late, here’s the fox in the box, and your defence is in trouble. 

Game won, weekend made, Monday’s productivity ruined. 

The depressive in me will always keep one eye on the top four baseline, even if it’s so far below us that you have to squint. 

Now it all feels like a reality TV show where a specialist is called in to solve a problem. We’re Cesar Millan, and Tottenham and Manchester were problem dogs. Now, with their behaviour corrected we can look forward to a fulfilling relationship, in which they know their place and take points off our rivals.


18 comments on “Only 3-2, But Arsenal Spanked United

  1. Loved reading this it affirmed what I witnessed yesterday. It is too early to talk about the title but the skill, the mentality and the collective understanding of this team is a revelation. I wonder how Mr Neville is feeling this morning?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Brilliant write up Birdkamp, brilliant.

    Loved the bid about the Rubik’s Cube especially. The last 20 minutes was the sporting equivalent of total warfare, wave after wave of vicious attack, unrelenting, unceasing until with Fergie time all but out, a goal which in years gone by, would have been twice ruled out for offside, was confirmed as very good indeed by VAR.

    If that onslaught had bamboozled the millions watching, just imagine playing against it. Nearly an hour later, a showered and shocked Luke Shaw appeared before the Inquest Cameras a shadow of his former, more confident self, showing all the signs of PTSD and many incoming sleepless nights ahead of him. Really, Saka should have been stopped, poor Luke. Trouble is, he can’t be.

    Right now, Saka is one of the best players in the world and could walk into ANY team. Except he’s in OUR team. That he stood head and shoulders above many other brilliant performers – MO, Partey, Xhaka, Gab, Ed – is nothing short of very sobering.

    Brilliant write up, brilliant result – and Arsenal’s best EVER start to ANY season.

    50 points at the halfway stage – that’s more than the glorious, bench-marking Invincibles.

    Think about that for a few days, I know I will; the ultimate comparison …

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Cheers Birdy, thanks for the report,and covering all the bases. it made me laugh out loud (the reference to stepping in dog shite)and had to check out who Cesar Milan is.
    Home support was loud and strong last night which made the game more special.
    One thing I liked was the way in which Arteta fielded the post game manipulative questions, when asked about Saka he said all his players were great…
    I also liked the way Trossard seemed happy to come on and hit the floor running, looked like he was totally up for it. He could easily have felt insecure and become over whelmed as many subs are when they come on.But he did the biz.

    I think Wan was lucky that Fergie wasnt the manager, as he might have got the hair-dryer treatment for letting Eddie in with the header. Nice to see Eddie doing so well.

    I think last time I enjoyed winning so much was the Rambo cup final v Chelsea…

    Thanks again.


    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you BB, AA and Mills, and George for putting it up.

    Yeah, Trossard looks exciting. Just the player to bring on when you need to demoralise and run the clock down. Kind of needed it after seeing Mudryk on Saturday. And to be fair, Martinelli was fine yesterday—he’s only just getting started.

    Trying not to OD on all the reactions to the game this morning.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks Brady – top work and you captured the feelings superbly. I’m finding watching us at the moment extraordinary for we are playing in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Mind you, I’ve never been any good at Rubik’s cubes either.

    There was a lovely report in the Grauniad this morning too. https://twitter.com/guardian_sport/status/1617264264825159680?s=20&t=kWOfsDbCmuv2I25_MgyWrA

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Sorry – thanks to Birdy!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, excellent article in the Guardian as ForeverH says; here’s just one paragraph:

    “It started happening to Mohamed Salah around the end of his first season at Liverpool. Yes: right now, Saka is in that league. There was one nutmeg of Scott McTominay in the first half that was pure disdain, a move that said: “What are you even doing here m8, I wanted Casemiro.” Luke Shaw initially handled him well by standing off, and so like the best players Saka adjusted. He started releasing the ball first time. He started shooting on sight. Shaw has been one of United’s best players this season and Saka broke him, piece by piece.“

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Game won, weekend made, Monday’s productivity ruined. 

    Brilliant! Just brilliant!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Andrew, you killed it here!

    Luke Shaw might be forgive you if he ever gets to read this! 🤣🤣🤣

    It’s been a while guys but, boy, does it feel good to be back again!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh dear!

    Sorry for the use of emojis and the disastrous typos there.
    Should have read Shaw might never forgive you if he ever gets to read this.

    Blame that on Shaw! _smiles sheepishly_

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Brilliant read. During the recording of today’s pod, George was bragging about the headlines but the content is even better.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Dear Positivistas,

    The sun is shining this Monday lunchtime…and boy did I enjoy Birdy’s post whilst slurping my cauliflower and broccoli soup.

    I was completely struck by Oleksandr Zinchenko. He was awesome…the best I’ve seen him play to date…what a player….

    Trossard was exciting and showed how he will be a real menace…

    Love it…

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Enoyed reading this! Captured the mood for most gunners I imagine! Well Done birdkamp

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ARSENAL have completed the signing of Kiwior for 20 million on a four and a half year deal

    Liked by 1 person

  15. During the match, I was thinking about this game, now 25 years ago.It was electric at Highbury that day….as it was yesterday.At 2-2 I keep thinking about Platts goal, and had the faith we would win.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Granit Xhaka named Switzerland player of the year again

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Gabriel Jesus said yesterday that he hopes to be back in 4 or 5 weeks

    Liked by 1 person

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