The match between Arsenal and Manchester United could have swung either way. Arsenal arguably did enough to secure a vital win but a poor performance by Bacary Sagna cost them.
Arsenal dominated the first half against a somewhat lacklustre Manchester United side after Theo Walcott’s early goal.
The Gunners dictated most of the first half but were unable to convert chances and it once again showed the lack of firepower in the front ranks of Arsene Wenger’s side.
In the dying minutes of the first half Bacary Sagna gave a poor back pass, which allowed former teammate Robin van Persie to latch onto it. Sagna tracked back but instead of falling into position in front of the striker, the French fullback opted to slide in with a reckless challenge, chopping down Van Persie and conceding a penalty.
True to nature, the Dutchman slotted a faultless penalty, despite thunderous booing and jeering from his former home crowd.
Later, already booked for the foul on Van Persie, Sagna committed another silly and unnecessary mistake with a late challenge on his French opposite number Patrice Evra. Luckily for Sagna, Phil Dowd let play continue as United were on a break and the Frenchman escaped what should have been a second booking – despite furious protesting from Wayne Rooney.
Sagna hasn’t been at his best for a while now and perhaps Wenger should have elected to replace the French fullback with the more-than-capable Carl Jenkinson.
Nevertheless, Arsenal allowed United to get back into the game in the second half but with good defending – especially from the lanky figure of Per Mertesacker – and good shot stopping from Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal were able to deny the champions any further goals.
On a positive note, Jack Wilshere looked to be back to his best after his introduction in replacement of Tomas Rosicky. The young talisman made the difference to the Gunners’ attack with his signature straight charges into the defensive lines and clever passing. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also showed that he is nearing a potential starting spot in Wenger’s team as he showed good control of the ball in the last third, great dribbling and trickery, and picking out teammates and offering goal-scoring chances.
Santi Cazorla was at his usual fine form and was only just denied by his compatriot David de Gea after a few powerful strikes on goal.
The Gunners will rue the missed chances and the dropped points as they could have gone four points ahead of Spurs who drew against Wigan on Saturday, and one ahead of Chelsea who beat Swansea convincingly yesterday. As it stands, Arsenal lead their north London rivals by only two while trailing Chelsea by one, and Wenger will be hoping that their two rivals drop points somewhere in the run-in.
It might be unfair to load all the blame on Bacary Sagna as it comes down to a collective effort, but the Frenchman will certainly be regretful of his poor performance.
Fortunately for the Emirates outfit all is not lost and Chelsea and Tottenham are yet to face each other while Chelsea also have a few tough fixtures left, including Man United and Everton.
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