In a recent analysis of Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Manchester United by Barney Ronay in The Guardian, the claim was made that Arsenal “burgled” their way to a 3-1 victory over Manchester United.
While the focus of the article largely centred on the role of luck and a moment of individual brilliance from Declan Rice, it perhaps misses some finer points of the match that deserve attention.
This review delves into the overlooked aspects of the game, arguing that the narrative spun by The Guardian lacks the nuance essential for a comprehensive understanding of Arsenal’s performance.
- Barney Ronay’s article omits the wrongly overturned penalty on Kai Havertz, affecting the full scope of Arsenal’s performance.
- While not at his best, Havertz’s five crucial midfield recoveries are ignored, downplaying his contribution in favour of adding to the pressure on him.
- The Guardian focuses on luck and individual brilliance, overlooking tactical elements and stats that contributed to Arsenal’s win including an xG of 2.27 v 0.94, 17 shots v 10, 12 corners v 3, 9 Arsenal starters rating over 7 v 2 Man United, and 2 Arsenal starters rating over 8 with 0 Man United.
The focus of Ronay’s article, to a large extent, rests on the notion that Arsenal’s win came out of luck and a moment of individual brilliance from Declan Rice rather than a solid team performance.
However, admittedly with my Arsenal-tinted glasses on, a review of the match suggests that this perspective might be lacking in nuance.
First and foremost, Ronay’s article curiously overlooks a key moment in the match: a wrongly overturned penalty for a foul on Kai Havertz.
This oversight begs the question: could Arsenal’s win have been even more convincing had this decision not been screwed up by the officials? Was it a clear and obvious error? If so, David Luiz’s heel would like a word.
Ignoring this pivotal moment could be seen as an attempt to downplay the full scope of Arsenal’s performance, a nuance that should be considered in any fair assessment of the game.
Additionally, the article describes Havertz as a “spectral entity, only partially present in the material world.”
While Havertz might not have had his most scintillating game, such a depiction overlooks the German international’s contribution in the form of five crucial recoveries in the midfield. These recoveries contributed to Arsenal’s control over the game and signify a more intricate tactical groundwork laid out by Mikel Arteta.
The article describes the match as a “personality win not a systems win,” suggesting that Arsenal’s victory was more due to individual brilliance or luck rather than a well-executed game plan. While that may be true to some extent, the phrasing diminishes Mikel Arteta’s tactical prowess, the substitutions that won the game for Arsenal and the collective team effort that went into the win.
The focus on Declan Rice’s performance appears slightly muddled, being both critical and appreciative. While Rice’s ‘magic moment’ is highlighted, it also spends a significant amount of text critiquing his overall performance during the match.
For a pro-Arsenal reader, it might feel that not enough credit is given to Rice for his match-winning impact, which was exactly what he was signed for.
The narrative spun by the original Guardian piece seems to hinge on the luck and opportunism behind Arsenal’s win, bypassing the elements that could underscore the merits of the team while also dwelling on what Manchester United did well, without necessarily highlighting Arsenal’s achievements.
For instance, there’s no mention of defensive stability or how Arsenal managed to stave off United’s quick breaks, which is an important narrative from an Arsenal standpoint.
While Ronay acknowledges Arteta’s satisfaction with the win, the article overall seems to stop short of giving full credit to the team for what was undoubtedly a crucial win against a formidable opponent in Manchester United.
It leans into the idea that Arsenal were somewhat fortunate, which is grating for fans who know Arsenal were fully deserving of the victory.
So, while the Guardian’s account may veer towards the sensational, a closer inspection reveals that Arsenal’s win was not as “burgled” as initially suggested.
After all, in the nuanced world of football, victory often hinges on a complex blend of skill, strategy, and yes—sometimes—a little bit of luck, and the only ‘luck’ Arsenal got in this game was the officials actually doing their jobs with the Garnacho offside.