[images via youtube and getty]
Football is a game of fine margins. Sometimes the odds swing in your favour, and sometimes they don’t. That is the sport. Unfortunately, Arsenal were on the receiving end of some rather unfortunate circumstances in the defeat to Manchester United. If Martinelli gets the goal he deserved, it’s a completely different football match and social media would currently be hyping an Arsenal title charge. As it happened, we lost – and now the anti-Arsenal brigade have come out of hiding to discredit us.
News flash, people! One result does not define a season. Unless my eyes deceive me, Arsenal are still top of the Premier League. If someone had offered me 15 points from our opening 6 games, I’d have absolutely taken it. That doesn’t change now.
Football is more nuanced than just winning or losing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as frustrated as any other fan that we made the travel back to London without any points, but there is more to consider than just the result. 3-1, on paper, does not look like a good score line, but it was clearly not a reflection of the game. When you lose, you are always disappointed. It is, however, when you both lose and play terribly that fans have every right to go into meltdown.
The fact of the matter is that simply that Arsenal were not bad against Manchester United. Did we deserve to win? No. But for 70 odd minutes of that game we were the better side – even opposing fans have conceded that. It was, ultimately, a combination of weak defending, a lack of killer instinct, and clinical United moves that proved costly today.
As with our previous five fixtures this season, Arsenal won on expected goals against United. Whilst these figures provide no tangible reward, one must consider these metrics when trying to understand the dynamic of a game. We went to Old Trafford, dominated the ball (though that may have favoured the home side), and created a greater number of expected goals. If someone had told us this in isolation, we’d have assumed we’d won.
At the end of the day, we didn’t – and there’s no avoiding that. I think our high line got exposed by an excellent counter attacking side, and there’s no denying we were poor defensively. Going forwards, we lacked the ruthlessness that is needed in big games – that killer pass or shot to make something happen.
Whilst we lost, I am still feeling good about this Arsenal side. Six games in, we’ve gained good underlying metrics in each game – and today just wasn’t our day. Credit to Manchester United, who seem to be embarking on an exciting project under Ten Hag.
It’s time to compartmentalise this defeat, move on to our Europa League fixture on Thursday, and then another Premier League fixture against Everton next weekend. We cannot allow ourselves to slip back into that trend of losing in batches of games, as we saw at times last season.
Top of the league. We’ve got a great chance to start winning again. Come on you Gunners.