Arsenal lost on Thursday night at Old Trafford thanks to some dodgy refereeing and their own stupidity.
The first half was as weird as you can imagine.
Despite Martin Atkinson seeming to want to rule Arsenal’s opener out for no reason other than he’s Martin Atkinson, a lengthy VAR review, that showed David de Gea had been felled by his own player and the ref hadn’t whistled by the time the ball hit the back of the net, gave him no choice but to award Emile Smith Rowe and Arsenal with a goal.
After that, despite United seemingly there for the taking, Arsenal once again dropped off and tried to defend their lead despite most of the match remaining.
Judging by the body position, they definitely died watching Arsenal defend a 1-0 lead. https://t.co/t3khRDvelO
— James 'Raul' Stokes (@JamesRaulStokes) November 29, 2021
United’s equaliser came after a sloppy clearance from Benjamin White at the back.
Before that, Atkinson had tried to even things up by allowing United to continue attacking while Nuno Tavares lay on the floor with a head injury.
Just the first time in the evening he would apply one rule to Arsenal and another to United.
Atkinson got an even better chance as the half closed out.
As Martin Odegaard floated a free-kick into the box, Harry Maguire hauled Takehiro Tomiyasu to the ground in the box.
It was as clear as Maguires inability to move.
Maguire is pulling Tomiyasu’s arm and bringing him down. How is this not a penalty? https://t.co/tLAsYod3px
— Kris (@Santi_Classorla) December 2, 2021
Atkinson was having none of it, despite it being so blatant commentators across the globe agreed it was a penalty.
The second half saw United take the lead again through their number 7 before Martin Odegaard equalised two minutes later.
United then got their obligatory penalty, Martin Atkinson and VAR only too happy to pull the game back for a clever win from Fred in the box.
Funny how they weren’t able to do that for the clear foul on Tomiyasu.
Arsenal player ratings (half-time)
- Aaron Ramsdale 5.8 (6.2)
- Takehiro Tomiyasu 6.1 (6.4)
- Benjamin White 6.8 (7.0)
- Gabriel 6.7 (6.2)
- Nuno Tavares 6.8 (6.2)
- Mohamed Elneny 7.8 (7.2)
- Thomas Partey 7.0 (6.9)
- Gabriel Martinelli 7.6 (6.4)
- Martin Odegaard 7.4 (6.8)
- Emile Smith Rowe 7.0 (7.0)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 6.9 (6.5)
- Bukayo Saka 6.2
- Alexandre Lacazette 5.9
- Eddi Nketiah 6.2
on whether he’s disappointed we didn’t win the game after drawing level…
Well, we scored the first one and after that we had total control of the game. We started to give some very simple balls away in very dangerous areas that opened some spaces for them, and gave them some momentum.
We had some difficulties there, (and we) we conceded the goal. The second half I think we started really well again – we had total control, we concede the goal and we reacted really well, we kept playing, and we were dominant in the game.
We scored the second one, and then after that we have to go and show the maturity to going and score the third one. In that moment we did not manage well enough that situation, and we conceded the goal.
So, I’m pleased with a lot of things that I saw, but being realistic (after) conceding three goals at Old Trafford, it’s very tricky to get something out of the game.
on whether he saw that the goalkeeper was down for the opening goal…
No it was a very quick action, and afterwards we didn’t know what to expect.
I was talking to the fourth official, and they allowed the goal. But I have seen (it since).
on Martinelli’s performance…
Yes he looked a threat. He had a big chance in the first half, and he probably should have played on.
He created assists, he worked extremely hard, and he had some really good moments – he looked a threat.
on if he felt the team were too comfortable after the first goal…
No I think we were sloppy in possession. We gave the ball away to the opponent, and we had no pressure there. That created strong momentum that allowed them to run, and they had the structure to play – and suddenly we started to give the ball away.
So many unforced errors that led to them having belief that they could do something in the game. I didn’t see a team with the handbrake, I saw a team that wanted to impose (themselves) here.
They were dominant, we played with the right structure and the right freedom at the same time. But we didn’t defend our box well enough well, and manage some situations well enough to concede the way did.
on whether he felt some the senior players performed well enough today…
Certainly it’s the balance we need, and that the balance is right. The senior players have to lead, and the young players have to follow.
on how he plays to stop players from dropping off after they score first…
Well I don’t know, it’s very difficult because when you are in [possession of] the ball, you have to make decisions – and I want to encourage them to do what they feel.
But you know against those teams you get punished immediately, with the quality and amount of players that they can play (against) you straight away.
on starting Elneny over Sambi…
[To be able] to play a player like him, with that experience that he has playing in this arena. He was incredibly good last year when he played here as well.
The way he has been training, and the way he behaves, and because I believe that sometimes we have to rotate things for the game.