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Arsenal 2 United 1

United have a pretty poor record at the Emirates. Two seasons ago United look strong and led the game only to lose to late goals, and last season we led twice and were unlucky to concede in stoppage time. There was a feeling that this time Arsenal would get what they deserved and that there was no better time to play them. However, football is a funy old game and despite all their injuries and bad form they put in a great performance and unfortunately really damaged United’s standing in the league table.

A number of us met in North London pre-match and jumped on a bus to Arsenal. The rain was hammering down and we will guessed this would suit United. We got into the stadium absolutely drenched half an hour before kick off, at which point the blue sky came over and the rain stopped. The line up was good and we looked strong, although quite a few people were concerned about Gary Neville on the right. Arsenal recalled quite a few players that we asumed would be out, but they still had a number of key players injured and so United should still have felt that they had a great chance to win.

The game started brightly with chances for both sides. Bentner missed two great free headers for them and United also looked dangerous going foward. Park had a great shot, Rooney forced a great save and Berbatov had a goal ruled offside. However, the best chance of the match fell to Rooney who wasted an amazing chance followig great build up play and a cross by Ronaldo, which many will say turned the game. Minutes later Arsenal came up the other end and scored from a deflected shot after a free kick that should never have been given. We were gutted and all of a sudden Arsenal too charge of the game and passed with great confidence. At half time we were all hoping that Fergie was going to really shake the team up as he had done in Glasgow on Wednesday.

However, Arsenal came out in the second half and United could not get the ball. Their fans finally found their voices, although their chanting was limited to “Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal”- what great originality! Just as we were reminding them who the champions of England and Europe were, our defence split wide open again and Nasri powered home his second. Neville’s involvement in the goal was poor and he was soon taken off for Silva. United should have been down and out at this point but suddenly woke up and started playing great football.

A minute after Arsenal’s second goal Park put over a wonderful cross to Ronaldo who brilliant volleyed the ball past the keeper. Amazingly it drifted an inch wide of the post and ultimately, like Rooney’s miss earlier, that turned the game. An inch more to the left and United would have been 2-1 down with over 30 minutes left. As it was, United kept on pressuring the Arsenal goal and created a number of chances. Rooney, much to many people’s surprise, was replaced by Tevez and there was a general feeling that Berbatov should have gone off instead. The minutes ticked away as the United fans raised their voices and got behind the team, and in the very last minute Silva smashed in a fantastic shot from the edge of the box to keep the game alive. Yet it was not enough and Arsenal survived the 6 minutes of stoppage time.

At the final whistle we were seriously gutted. Last year we played other ‘big’ teams off the park, this season we have lost to Liverpool and Arsenal and drawn with Chelsea. But on top of that we have failed to beat other top half sides such as Everton, and with Villa, City and Spurs away all coming up we need to raise our game. The 8 point gap is not too much of a worry, but the inconsistent form and failure to kill games off when we have led is causing problems. The defence does not look as solid as last season and up front we are not cutting teams open with as much ease. There is a long long way to go and no one should be panicking yet, but certainly we can not lose too much ground before the new year if we are going to be challenging in May.

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