Tag Archives: Anthony Taylor

Arsenal 3-2 Man U: Results of Player-Rating & MOTM Poll

Man, 681 responses. I was hoping for 600, but we eclipsed that. Zinchenko earned MOTM honours with 45.5% of the vote, eclipsing Nketiah’s 40.7%. It’s not often that the scorer of two goals in a 3-2 victory, earns a 9.38 rating, and fails to claim the MOTM, but such was Zinchenko’s all-around performance that he really did deserve it. Between this match and the NLD, he had the most touches, passes, duels won, aerial duels won, and 100% success in take-ons. While it’s true that Martinelli and White struggled, they’ve each logged heavy minutes and have played out of their minds. Having Tomiyasu and Smith-Rowe back and bringing in Trossard will give us some much-needed depth and rotation options. Well, enough huffing and puffing. Check out the poll results below…

As a final note, I’m still trying to find a suitable commenting platform. Google’s comment widget only allows for Google logins or anonymous comments, neither of which really make discussion easy. I’ve brought Disqus back although it’s far from perfect. If you have any feedback on Disqus, email me at jfshay@gmail.com. In the longer term, I’ll be migrating to a new domain (same URL) with a provider that has better commenting options. Thanks in the meantime for your patience!


It was billed as a titanic clash, a bout between heavyweights, a potential Prem title decider, and, well, that’s all probably a bit premature and a bit hyperbolic. Yes, Man U have nosed their way into the top three four, but they’ve done so by feasting on mid-table minnows and relegation fodder (except, it must be admitted, for their dramatic derby win at the weekend). However, it never felt like they really got a foothold in this match whereas Arsenal? Well, it has to be said that we rose to the occasion, seized it, and made it our own. It was a dramatic, emphatic win, the kind that could very well propel us to our first Prem title since 2004. In fact, for those curious, we’re five points ahead of that Invincibles side.

All of the pre-match hype focused on how this felt like the first time since Ferguson and Wenger retired that this old rivalry felt like something substantial, something real, rather than something listing to the side somewhat, hoping that those former days of glory might offer some artificial respiration to an otherwise lifeless corpse living on old grudges and fading memories. Having said all that, though, it doesn’t quite feel like Man U showed up. Yes, of course, they took the early lead, but that had just as much to do with our own early sloppiness , if not more, than it did with anything Man U manufactured. Two giveaways inside of a second gave Rashford the opening, and, credit the lad, he took it.

Aside from that, however, Man U’s attack was fairly toothless. Eriksen, Anthony, and Fernandes were all but anonymous. They only managed six shots, most of those in that nervy first half in which they seemed more like a punch-drunk street figher trying desperately to land one haymaker rather than a cagey fighter sticking to a strategy. When they did land one, courtesy of Rahsford, they seemed to awaken a sleeping giant. Rather than collapse, crestfallen, our side rose up in unison, fired on by lusty chants of “ARSENAL! ARSENAL! ARSENAL!” and we responded in just over five minutes, Nketiah lulling Wan-Bissaka to sleep before darting inside of him to head home. When Saka fired home from just outside the area, Man U were reeling and against the ropes. Martinez’s equalising header was the first headed goal we’ve conceded this season and was again a result of luck rather than planning, Ramsdale spilling it into the diminutive Argentinian’s path. 

By the time Nketiah poked home in the waning moments, the die had been cast. The gulf in class between us and our visitors was stark, and the only marvel was that the scoreline didn’t reflect this gulf. We created chance after chance after chance, fluffing most (if we’re being honest) but being denied by the woodwork and by de Gea just as often. In a game of inches, it could have been a reverse of that infamous 8-2 scoreline back in 2011, and I don’t think many other than Gary Neville would have complained.

There’s a belief, a hunger, a confidence, deep already but deepening by the week, that there is something special going on here. We’re only just now halfway through the season, and we’re five points clear—but that’s well within the margin of error considering that we still have to face Man City twice. Given their quality and experience compared to our youth, both on the pitch and in (or at least adjacent to) the technical area, it’s still City’s title to lose. 

Even then, this match provided the kind of moment that makes men out of boys. Earlier in the day, Man City did what Man City do, heaping pressure on to what was already a potential cauldron of a match. Lose, and City are only two points. Draw, and the gap is just three. Not only are the maths feeling squeaky, but so too are bums. Instead, our lads showed mettle. They have minerals. They’re collecting results and points and momentum. It’s still far, far too early to crown us champions. Far too early. There’s still so much football to be played. Unlike City, we’re still only an injury here or there from wobbling away. 

Even if that fate does befall us, the stumble would not be the result of any lack of quality or endeavour or any bold stratagem on Guardiola’s part. We’re still growing, evolving, improving; we’re still plumbing the depths of what’s possible. Have a look at the week-by-week table.  While there are banana peels and jammy teams and outright obstacles, the growing sense is that Arteta and this squad simply refuse to believe that anyone can stop them. Heck, I’m actually looking forward to going toe-to-toe with Man City. Something tells me that, win or lose, we’ll give as good as we get and silence a fair few critics. 

There’s still plenty of football to be played. Plenty, indeed…but wild-eyed optimism is starting to at least make room for something more closely resembling clear-eyed pragmatism. 

Arsenal 3-2 Man U: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

In a stirring, possibly season-defining display, Arsenal came from behind to overturn an early Man U lead through Marcus Rashford to win 3-2, courtesy of last-gasp Nketiah goal to snatch all three points. There was some doubt as to whether the goal would stand, with Zinchenko possibly in an offside position during the sequence, but VAR let the goal stand. This one felt like one of the titanic battles between old heavyweights, and it’s not too soon to suggest that Man U look to be back in contention again. Although their first goal came through a bit of luck, as Rashford pounced on the ball, made a nifty move, and slotted past Ramsdale from a good thirty yards out, they did give almost as good as they got. Almost. The result puts them back in their place and puts us five points ahead of Man City with a game in hand. The character and determination our boys showed, fighting until the very end, was something to behold. Not to be overlooked is the calm maturity of Nketiah, who had a chance at a late hat-trick but kept carrying the ball toward the corner flag to burn precious time instead. I just wonder what his doubters will say now that he’s scored a brace against a big-six side. 

At any rate, get into the poll to rate the lads. Let’s see if this one can break the 600-votes mark. An attractive results-graphic will be available tomorrow. If you’re the impatient type, you can click here to see results as they roll in. Last but not least, for a visual on how the title-race is unfolding, check this page for a week-by-week chart of the top eight clubs are doing. 

Arsenal 3-2 Man U—highlight-clips as they happen!

I’ll post quick clups of our 238th meeting with this old rival as quickly as I can. Man City’s win over Wolves has narrowed the gap to just two points although we’ll still have a match in hand after this (against, of course, none other than Man City…). Here’s hoping I’ll have lots to post here today…

It's a Clash Of The Titans once again…sort of…

Five yellow cards mean what, now?

It’s been a long, long time since this fixture attracted as much attention or meant as much as it does. These two clubs once dominated the Prem only to watch upstarts and oil money upend the established order, distort transfer fees and wages, and force two major cities to learn of the existence of local rivals. One club has shot up towards the top of the table, having lost just once in twenty matches. That includes a stirring derby-day victory. The other club, of course, has lost thrice in 26 matches with a big, fat asterisk over all three, two of them coming from heavily rotated sides and one, of course, coming in part due to a wrongly disallowed goal. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on Man U’s growth since the World Cup. On second thought, I’ll cast aspersions wherever I feel like it. Let’s do this.

We’ve been laying waste to opponents hither and yon all season long, and the only besmirching marks are the lost at Old Trafford back in September, in which Martinelli’s goal was wrongly disallowed; the Europa League group-stage loss at PSV, in which we rotated heavily; and the League Cup loss to Brighton, in which we again rotated heavily. However, despite our fine form, the emerging narrative ahead of Sunday’s clash is not of Arsenal’s top-of-the-table status but of Man U’s apparent ascendancy. Last I checked, beating the likes of Charlton Athletic, Everton, Bournemouth, Nottingham Fores, or Burnley were hardly reason to get excited. While it’s true that our Mancunian visitors should feel some degree of satisfaction fomr their (dubious) derby win at the weekend, they should also feel some dismay at dropping points midweek at Selhurst Park. Long story short, it may be a little too soon to anoint Man U as contenders.

Still, it must be admitted that they do look a lot sleeker in the post-Ronaldo era. Freed from his sulking and preening, Rashford and others seem to have a new lease on life. They’re probably at their best on the counter, but that approach runs the risk of crashing up against our Scylla & Charybdis. Saliba and Magalhães have proven themselves to be both fast enough on the ground and dominant enough in the air to nullify attempted through-balls and long balls (exhibit A: North London Derby 15 January 2023 in which Tottenham’s only attack consisted of hoofing it in the general direction of Kane). Eriksen and Fernandes might be just a bit more clever than Højbjerg and Sarr; then again, I suspect that Partey and Xhaka might just hhave a bit more steel and verve that Fred and McTominay.

Casemiro’s suspension may deny Ten Hag the one clear ace in the hole he held, the one that was so crucial to Man U’s win over Man City. Fred man-marked de Bruyne out of that match for long stretches, but this was only possible because of how well Casemiro shields the defense and knits defense to attack. Shorn of his services, Ten Hag can ill afford to assign Fred to harassing Ødegaard. McTominay is just not good enough to hold down the fort. Assign Fred to Ødegaard and watch Xhaka and Partey pull strings, thread passes, and create chances. That’s a recipe for an Arsenal master-class. 

Despite all this, we know how this will all play out. Anything short of a dominant Arsenal victory will somehow prove that we’re wobbly and Man U are hungry. With that in mind, I can state objectively and without passion or prejudice that I hope we absolutely smash them into oblivion. I want a Dutch striker to smash his pen against the crossbar so that a British CB can lord it over him. I want a pacy winger to steal the ball with his head and slot it home. I might want Arteta to kick a water bottle after a wrongly disallowed goal. I’ll take a stunning turn and half-volley from any of our players regardless of nationality. Give me a Frenchman scoring a late goal with a Nigerian—scratch that, Ghanaian—teammate leaping over him to celebrate. Give me any number of these other, epic memories because, to be honest, only one side looks capable of delivering any of them despite the idea that Man U are somehow back to their glorious best. 

I fancy our chances. I’ll leave it at that.