November 28, 2023

10 Decisions on Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United: Declan Rice, Ten Hag cowardliness, Havertz, Hojlund, Onana

10 Decisions on Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United: Declan Rice, Ten Hag cowardliness, Havertz, Hojlund, Onana

10 Decisions on Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United: Declan Rice, Ten Hag cowardliness, Havertz, Hojlund, Onana

Arsenal won thanks to Declan Rice and Gabriel Magalhaes, not Kai Havertz. Manchester United were fantastic, but Erik ten Hag is a coward.

1) That was a hilarious way to end a football game.

2) No protagonist could decide that match better than Declan Rice. A superb, relentless performance was already the finest on the pitch before Manchester United gave him time and space to bring the ball down from a corner, analyze his options, read the West Ham payment system, and score the winning goal.

Rice dominated the centre, helping Arsenal maintain intermittent dominance with an unmatched rest defense that steadily suffocated Manchester United. The forward thrusts were deliberate. Everything the hosts did building up went via him. That level of maturity and control at 24 without Big Six experience is unusual.

It’s wonderful to see a player return to perform better and show immediate explanation. Rice was not a complete all-rounder, and some felt he lacked experience and attack. After an international break in which he will likely continue to thrive for the fourth-ranked nation, Rice will make his Champions League debut as England’s second-best player. A long time coming.
Arsenal center Declan Rice celebrates with teammates.

3) Margin margins have rarely been finer. Imagine Manchester United playing an almost ideal away game: soak up pressure, defend deep, attack with pace and numbers on the break, and bring on fresh legs late on to win. The difference between a 3-1 loss and Alejandro Garnacho’s 2-1 win is negligible, and only Stockley Park should care.

The strategy was well-planned and implemented. That will get lost in the narrative blank of an international break dominated by result bias talk, but Manchester United played well and should not be given the crisis baton over the next two weeks. This season and away at any competent team last season showed enough improvement to be satisfied, if it continues.

4) Erik ten Hag is a coward for blaming referees.

“I thought we played a very good game but everything went against us,” he remarked. It was not offside. The angle was improper. After a penalty on Hojlund, we surrender a goal for a foul on Jonny Evans.

Conspiracy-fueled crap. And nothing special about the card most managers play as everyone praises them for Building A Siege Mentality and valiantly taking the flack from the players (and dumping it on the most abused party in the sport).

This is a joke in current games. However, don’t spend millions on a fine-margin strategy and complain when some of them go against you in a fair game. Why assign responsibility for losing at Arsenal when there’s no need?

5) Andre Onana could not have changed any Arsenal goals. Martin Odegaard’s finish was fantastic; Rice’s strike was deflected by a bunch of legs from 10 yards out, and Gabriel Jesus was unstoppable.

But focusing on this goalkeeper’s goalkeeping is uninteresting. His display and Arsenal’s reaction to Manchester United’s use of him as a safety blanket in possession were one of the game’s most intriguing narratives.

Disbelief that the Gunners weren’t pushing the Cameroonian was a bizarre talking point.
Arsenal sought to push Onana in the first 30 minutes, but he dropped a shoulder and let Eddie Nketiah run. The hosts rightly decided to let Onana prowl 30 yards from his goal under no duress rather than commit an additional man too far forward and play a higher defensive line, allowing the keeper to exploit the gaps in behind.

The volume of long passes Onana tried to deliver to Marcus Rashford makes it hard to say Arsenal should have done anything differently. This team won’t let the keeper show off his range like other teams. It’s wonderful to watch a Manchester United keeper leave his line, let alone go a third of the way down the pitch.

6) Kai Havertz’s plight continues. Even after winning, the German believers and unbelievers yelled at each other and called them “washed” or “mid” or whatever.

He gave the Emirates misplaced six-yard passes, an airshot in the penalty area, a good block on a Christian Eriksen shot, and a penalty won then overturned, which suited everyone’s agendas as Havertz either drove into the area well or dived because he was too timid to shoot.

It still looks odd and like Mikel Arteta trying to recreate the midfield wheel. However, nonchalance appears to be the issue. Few of Havertz’s actions appear urgent. Like the careless pass Eriksen intercepted to score for Manchester United, it often appears sloppy.

Let the argument continue.

7) Sky Sports’ amazing touch map graphic showing two dots in Arsenal’s half before Rashford’s goal. Great help.

8) Eriksen leading a thrilling counter-attack is hilarious, so it was no surprise when he offloaded fast and neatly into Rashford’s path.

Rashford went through from the left and shot past Aaron Ramsdale, who could only tip the ball onto the post.

The England forward is a cheat code, and his separation from Benjamin White before shooting was superb. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot were well-supported and protected during Antony and his return. Manchester United has great wide players.

9) Arsenal equalized with a luxurious move 35 seconds into the match, highlighting the risk-reward of playing Eriksen in a midfield two. Gabriel Martinelli, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Nketiah’s link-up play created a lay-off that Martin Odegaard ran onto unmarked with one side of the goal open last season.

Eriksen was responsible for tracking the run, but he’s not known for his defense. Even then, he tackled more than Casemiro, who was mainly ignored. Sofyan Amrabat and Scott McTominay’s discipline may be needed.
10) Martinelli’s cut-back demonstrated the peace of mind needed to find Odegaard on the box’s edge. In the first minute, the winger was supporting Odegaard and Nketiah, but a wasteful cross frustrated them and the moment went.

10 Decisions on Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United: Declan Rice, Ten Hag cowardliness, Havertz, Hojlund, Onana

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