If 76 minutes could sum up Angel Di Maria’s first season at Manchester United, yesterday’s match against Arsenal would be the perfect example.
The winger started well in the FA Cup Quarter-Final tie on the right-wing, before his effect on the match slowly decreased. He left the pitch frustrated, having been sent off for a moment of madness in frustration at having not won a free kick.
Di Maria supplied the assist
But as already stated Di Maria started the match well, often cutting inside throughout the match and troubling Nacho Monreal throughout the first-half. On one occasion on the 29th minute this led to a goal. The Argentine cut inside and delivered a cross matched in its excellence by a flying Wayne Rooney header that levelled the score at 1-1.
United had most of the possession and probably would have felt disappointed not to go in ahead, but a first half performance as good as anything seen from Louis Van Gaal’s recently was followed by a poor second half display.
Welbeck punished Van Gaal
In what was perhaps an attempt to retain more possession, Van Gaal took Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera off but with the latter went the link between United’s midfield and attack. As a result, they suffered as Arsenal grew into the game.
A nightmare moment for United’s Dutch manager then followed, as the player he sold in the summer, Danny Welbeck, was on hand to capitalise on a calamitous moment for Antonio Valencia. His back pass never had the legs to reach his goalkeeper, David De Gea, and Welbeck punished him by reaching it first and rounding the goalkeeper to slot into an empty net on the hour mark.
Arsenal then sat back and invited pressure onto them by United as Di Maria continued to cut inside and trouble the Arsenal back-line. Then it happened.
Winger could have no complaints with his second yellow
The Red Devils’ record signing cut inside, had his arm tugged by Aaron Ramsey but went down easily in an attempt to win a free-kick. Considering there was some contact his first yellow card may have been slightly harsh, but he could have no complaints with the second yellow. Di Maria appeared to grab Michael Oliver’s shirt and was duly sent off for a second bookable offence.
United would go on to lose the game 2-1 and as a result of the defeat, their final hope for a trophy this season disappeared. Di Maria and more importantly Van Gaal, will be frustrated again that a match that started with promise, ended in a hugely damaging moment for the winger.