Arsenal come out second best again against old rivals

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2014-11-24 22:43:01

On Saturday, two fierce rivals clashed in a game of epic proportions.

The two fought tooth and nail, exploiting each other's weaknesses mercilessly and swarming at every opportunity. The tackles came flying in, players squared up, and ­bodies had to be carried off. When the ­final whistle was blown, Manchester ­United emerged victorious, proudly rising to fourth place.

In years past, Manchester United and Arsenal would have been jousting for top position but this season is different. The two occupied the ­Europa League places and were scrapping to climb into the top four.

The game started in Arsenal's ­favor as they dominated United's ­inexperienced defense only to be foiled by keeper David de Gea. Things got worse for United when they lost defender Luke Shaw to injury in the 16th minute. However, Arsenal later lost Jack Wilshere to an ankle injury in the 55th minute.

Calamity struck for Arsenal one minute later when defender Kieran Gibbs scored one of the worst own goals ever - deflecting a United player's off-target shot into his own net while sitting on the ground, after having collided with and injuring his keeper just moments before.

Arsenal desperately attacked but left their defense exposed. It was inevitable when Wayne Rooney ran onto the ball outside Arsenal's penalty box with nobody between him and Arsenal's keeper and duly scored United's second. Arsenal finally scored in added-­on time, but it was too late.

Gibbs' own goal was a freak occurrence, but Arsenal's defeat cannot be put down to that. Arsenal have defensive problems with injuries and an imbalanced squad, but so did United.

What Arsenal lacked were tactical discipline and composure, something which was terribly obvious in recent games such as in their last Champions League game when they allowed Anderlecht to come back from three goals down to draw.

As the game grew on, Arsenal ­became increasingly frustrated and took more rash chances. United weathered this storm, content to wait and make counterattacks.

After going one goal down, ­Arsenal pressed forward more and ignored their defense. This gifted United with two opportunities, and one goal, in the last 15 minutes in which they had a clear path to Arsenal's goal with no defender in sight.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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