Arsenal v Manchester United - Player Ratings

Last updated : 04 January 2006 By Mike Bohndiek
It was a tepid performance that lacked both heart and desire, and the few hard tackles that did fly in almost felt like a token gesture, in what was not the most fiercely contested game between these two sides. I personally feel that for any team to play 4-5-1 at home is a disgrace, that is a formation to be used by struggling teams away from home against the top end of the league in the hope of scrapping a point. That is not a formation to be used by us to get a scrappy point off of what was a distinctly average Manchester United side. A major flaw in us playing with this shape and having Henry as the striker is that we never get men in the box. Henry, Reyes and Hleb naturally went to the left hand side, leaving just a few late runs from Pires or Cesc as our only crossing option. What happens then is that we mess around with some neat passing on wing then lose the ball and the attacking threat diminishes every time that happens.

Don't get me wrong, I was more than happy with a draw, but what I saw worried me. It showed that we are aiming purely for champions league qualification via 3rd or 4th place which means having to enter a round early. The teams that you can be drawn against are more than capable of causing an upset, and should we go out at that stage it could have huge financial implications for us at Emirates. We should have been going all out for the win in an attempt to claw back second place to within our grasps, and avoid what could be an unnecessary drama.

A shift in mentality has begun around Highbury, and it is not one that I am mightily pleased about.

Jens Lehmann (6) A few good saves but his horrendous kicking in the second half let him down.

Pascal Cygan (4) How they didn't take advantage of him playing I will never know! He was lucky to stay on the pith when he chopped Ronaldo while already on a booking

Sol Campbell (6) Better than Saturdays game.

Kolo Toure (6) Last minute sliding tackles and clearances saved us at times.

Lauren (6) Let Giggs past him too easily at times.

Jose Reyes (6) His early runs should have set the tone for the night.

Alexander Hleb (5) A lack of end product let some rare attacking moves down.

Gilberto (5) Back but without a bang. He conceded possession and misplaced passes.

Cesc Fabregas (6) Provided an option going forward but couldn't stand up to Fletcher, who ran the midfield.

Robert Pires (5) Didn't have the will to go past anyone, and rarely provided them with a threat.

Thierry Henry (5) He didn't get into the game and never posed an attacking threat that they couldn't deal with. Surely one run should lead to something


Dennis Bergkamp (4) Didn't get a sniff having been brought on with so little time left.

Mathieu Flamini (5) Replaced a tiring Cesc.

Emmanuel Eboue (4) Hardly touched the ball except for his goal line clearance.