United and Arsenal Come Out Even in a Nil-biter…

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Updated: February 14, 2014
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A must win game for both teams turned into a game neither side won, as Wednesday’s Manchester United v Arsenal match ended a goalless draw. Nil-nil, the final score, reflected the listless tone of this game well.  

Considering the recent form when it comes to defense for both sides, one might have expected this to be a high scoring game, and indeed, when Robin Van Persie had a clear shot at goal saved by Szczesny following a lapse in concentration by the Arsenal defense, followed by a missed header by Giroud at the other end, it looked as if both strikers had come to play. 

The game soon descended, however, into a midfield maelstrom. Swirling and countering, back and forth, short and long, dribble and tackle, neither team could establish control over the middle of the park.  

A gridlocked battle had midfield and defense firmly entrenched for both teams, and neither side was too concerned with getting forward. Both focused on not losing, they didn’t play to win, and the game displayed that mindset. 

As a Red Devils fan, perhaps what stood out to me the most was Juan Mata’s absolute lack of any defensive skill whatsoever. His men consistently plunged past him, as he aimlessly wandered around in circles, drifting here and there across the pitch. Several times, only the lack of a decisive pass saved him from embarrassment. He was so focused on putting pressure on the ball that he seemingly forgot that there were other men on the field that could get the ball-other men that he was supposed to be defending.  

Looking forward, as the Gunners continue down their corridor of death with massive matches coming up, they need to trust their defense and continue to play their fluid attacking football. Too much of a knee-jerk reaction will stifle their play, and while it might be harder to score on them, they don’t look very threatening at all on the other end. Right now, they’re firing all blanks.  

Manchester United, on the other hand, simply must start getting results in the league, especially against lesser opposition. At this point in the season, building for next year is what matters, and even though they might not be in top four this year, they have potential to be a great side next season. If David Moyes plays his cards right and everything clicks with the team, not to mention staying relatively injury free, big things could start happening on the Red side of Manchester. 


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