By Karl M. Tinsley

https://i2.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2009/08/29/article-1209930-0639FB80000005DC-196_468x326.jpg?resize=279%2C192Sighhhhhh…I am still in shock and heartache after this most painful of “losses” against our eternal enemy from the North. Absolutely feeling gutted about losing a game we had in our back pocket 🙁

MY 3 STARS

1. ROBIN VAN PERSIE: While it is true he did fail to find the back of the net…he did everything else a #1 striker and team captain should do in a high level match. I felt he ran his azz off all day, pressuring the ball, making runs into space without the ball and taking on the defenders when he did have it.

I loved his aggressive sliding sweep tackle chop on Nani around the 25-30 minute mark of the first half…sending the dirty Mancs (who had been kicking us about the pitch…same old same old from them) the message we CAN and WILL kick back!!.

He also showed a lot of maturity and leadership when he comforted Diaby after his howler…you can’t deny that Robin has grown up and become a real leader on this squad. Displayed a nice cut back dribble and shot in the first half, was very unlucky for EVRA to get a block on it. His service from the set pieces (Corners, FK’s) was not up to his usual quality in the first half.

But he did turn it around in the second half when he crushed that dipping curler off the crossbar…leaving Foster flapping at the ball like like a plucked chicken!. It is a crying shame that he was robbed early in the second half by Foster’s toe nails off that 1-timer from the delicious squared ball by Arshavin. To me THAT was the turning point of the match because it puts up 2-Nil. Don’t hang your head Robin…there will be better days ahead.

2. ANDRIY ARSHAVIN: OK…I am officially starting to run out of superlatives to describe the play of “The Russian Schemer”. He was absolute trash the first 35-40 minutes…never seen him so nervous and tight on the pitch since his arrival at Ashburton Grove.

His first touch and passing were dismal and it seriously looked to me like he didn’t want to push the ball and run at defenders. He nearly snatched the opening goal when he narrowly missed the far post after that misplayed CK fell to him in the first half…again conjuring up magic out of nothing.

Then came the Fletcher mugging in the box (still wondering how that was not a PK and a red/yellow card??) and then the lightning bolt strike that was never going to be denied…CLASS!. Second half saw a more relaxed and composed Andriy and in all honesty his squared ball to Robin deserved to find the back of the net. Today he showed the true mark of a champion…didn’t have his “A-game” but kept his focus and still found a way to deliver the goods.

3. THOMAS VERMAELEN: Nothing spectacular about his performance…but that in itself is a testament to his great intelligence, positional play and reading of the match. He DOESN’T NEED to be making desperate dives to toe-poke the ball away from defenders because he seemingly is always in position.

Just knowing we have him back there in the middle provides me (and I’m sure the squad as well) a whole lot of comfort when teams go on the counter-attack against us. Forget about the holes in our defence the last 10 minutes…that was the end result of us going balls to the wall for an equalizer. Great game Thomas…nickname to follow soon 😉

HONOURABLE MENTION

WILLIAM GALLAS: Had himself a decent match…only thing I can critique him on was the deep through ball from Giggs to Rooney that Almunia got screwed on for the PK. I think that play showed at 32 and coming off a knee injury…”The Killer” has lost a step to his game.

Pity about the offside call at the end of the match that cancelled out Robin’s equalizer…he was offside and was involved (even though the ball didn’t touch him).Can’t criticize his effort though…he’s pulled out late equalizers many a time with his hustle and fighting spirit at the death…just didn’t come off for him this time.

GAEL CLICHY: Decent match…kept Valencia in check after struggling against him last season. You could tell it was personal with him when he defended Valencia…there was no way he was going to be beaten with pace by him. A great example was in the second half when the two of them went on a 60 yard sprint down the left wing with Clichy clawing back the deficit and getting a toe in to clear and prevent the cross. Brilliant stuff!.

BACARY SAGNA: “Blondie Dread” had himself a great match…it was really a toss up between him and Vermaelen for that 3rd Star. As usual with him and Eboue on the right wing…nothing came down that flank to threaten us. His pace is back along with his technique as evidenced by that excellent slide tackle from behind in our box on Nani. HUGE!.

LEMON(S)

MIKE DEAN: He is and has been at or near the top of my shit-list of referee’s for sometime now. Served up his usual hatchet job on the opposition at Old Trafford. This guy should be refereeing in Italy. All he does is turn a blind eye to the late and aggressive Man Utd tackles and search furiously for a bailout call to award the Mancs. Its been going on for years now and it’s despicable.

MANUEL ALMUNIA: Granted he got screwed over on the PK call that saw Rooney collapse onto him in a successful effort at cheating the referee (not that Dean needed much encouragement). But my beef is…what the HELL is “Frankenstein” doing charging out off his line like that on a play that was not going to amount to much??. Gallas was there, Rooney was running full bore AWAY from the net towards the end line…there was no immediate danger to warrant Almunia’s superman routine.

He has been doing this over and over again the last 2 seasons. I am sick of it…learn to trust your back line and cover your angles. Enough with the grandstanding and trying to turn every half threat on our net into a highlight real save. He is a selfish retard for putting himself and our club in that position…the game was choked off at that point and dimwit let them back into it.

ABOU DIABY: It was back to business as usual for Diaby…you know how that rolls…coughing up the ball repeatedly with his bad passes, slow to distribute, out of position, and of course the brain cramp own-goal. The dude can’t stay out of his own way. GOLF CLAPS.

SONG/DENILSON: See Diaby minus the own goal.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

It was the most bitter of defeats to our rival…it’s still hard to believe what happened 24 hours after the fact. We got hosed by the ref and Diaby showed his immaturity at the worst possible time. On the bright side…considering it was 11 vs. 12 AND our midfield was trash…I was deeply impressed with our forwards (minus Eboue who narrowly escaped a Lemon) and our back line.

I take comfort in the fact that we were able to nearly overcome these handicaps and take 3pts on the road at Old Trafford. What with a little more luck for Robin and a decent referee and we cruise to victory. Oh well, the dogs are barking and what’s done is done…time to pick ourselves up and focus on the next big match with Man Citah.

Obviously this game becomes even more crucial now…but no need to panic…the season is still very much in the fetal stage of development. Lots of time and plot twists to come for sure. Lets hope The Boss and the lads use this defeat to motivate themselves to bounce back in a large way against Citeh. Like the great Bob MARLEY used to sing “pull your rights from wrong!!

Enjoy the International Break…fingers crossed our soldiers come back healthy…and see you in 2 weeks time 🙂

GUNS IN GUNS OUT

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Karlos