Thursday, January 05, 2006

January 3: Arsenal 0 - 0 Manchester United

This should have been a grudge match, after last year's 4-2 blockbuster and the FA Cup final. But sadly, it wasn't. No handbags in the tunnel, no food being thrown. And not even a particularly good football match, either.

Neither team seemed able to build up sustained possession in the first half -- or when they did, they couldn't pick a way through the defence. Arsene Wenger's decision to play a 4-5-1 formation meant that United were stifled but Arsenal couldn't do much either, with Thierry Henry stranded up front. The game opened up in the second half -- and also got much chippier, albeit not up to the previous standard set by Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira. Arsenal had a few good spells, but I think United were the stronger side in the second half. Unfortunately, that doesn't count for much if you can't score. Rooney and Van Nistelrooy had awful service from their teammates -- Ronaldo continued to struggle to put in a decent cross, and although Darren Fletcher had a decent game (Is that two in a row? It's messing with my entire worldview!), John O'Shea, his partner in midfield, is apparently still unable to pass to anyone wearing the same shirt as him.

All in all, a disappointment. Sure, Keane and Vieira are gone, but still I expected more passion -- from both sides. Although Arsenal's chances of catching Chelsea are even slimmer than United's at this point. (Maybe a brawl before kickoff would have helped.)

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