Arsenal started brightly getting on top early doors and playing some tidy football. Fortune had the first foul of the match on Pennant who did enough to show he's worth a place in this season's squad. United's first goal attempt was well off target. Our first good move involved Dennis playing it wide to Pennant whose cross in was just beyond Thierry. Henry is not quite fully fit yet and was only given the first half. A move from our left flank ended with a great reverse ball from Thierry to Dennis who chipped over with his left peg. Dennis then had a good low drive very well saved by Howard. Arsenal definitely bossed the opening ten minutes. The game warmed up as Arsenal continued to press but it was never looked like boiling over. Giggs got through on a run but Lehmann came to the edge of his box to claim the ball. A fast break soon followed where Arsenal caught Manure three on two but pennant played the wrong ball with Thierry and Reyes in attendance.
A cigarette-lighter was lobbed at Henry by a mindless prat from United's end, I won't use the word fan because gits that do such things just aren't. Henry handed it to the ref and was booed for his trouble. Fortune beat Lauren and crossed but Pascal, who was solid throughout with one exception, cut out the cross for a corner. Fortune was then caught offside, one of quite a few offsides for both teams throughout the match. A foul outside the box against Henry saw him claim seniority for the free kick, a good dipping one that was tipped over by Howard. With over twenty minutes on the clock Dennis, in superb form, Played a peachy ball to Jermaine whose cross was only just beyond Jose who'd made up loads of ground to get there. Another break where it seemed we had to score saw Dennis play a one two with Thierry to break through but he appeared to tread on the ball. Shame.
United were not without forward movement, but when they came forward there was usually someone there to break up the attack as when Cole stopped Alan Smith. Henry ran into the box from the left and was eased out by Silvestre, those were the commentary teams words, I thought a hand on the chest and a shove was worth a penalty. Just after the half-hour Scholes had United's first serious shot when he pulled out a good save from Jens. Lehmann caught a high one from a Giggs corner and at the other end we could have opened the scoring. Reyes playing on the left flank set up Thierry whose tidy control made space for a shot that was well saved but found it's way to Pennant. Either the ball came too quickly or it got a slight bobble, either way Pennant put his shot wide.
Half time saw Van Persie come on for Henry. Our latest Dutchmen went wide left while Jose moved up front. Six substitutes from seven named were permitted for this match by the way. Smith fouled Lauren and was then caught offside. Reyes set the stadium alight with a run that left four United players for dead but having skipped around Howard he hit the side netting with a right footed shot. Had he scored we would have been re-played to death with that one. Not long after this there was a crunching tackle by Pascal who won the ball in our left back slot. Cygan quickly found Cesc who played it forward for Dennis, he in turn found Reyes breaking right and Gilberto came storming forward with a run started in our own half to tap home the perfect pass. 1-0 Arsenal.
United started their substitutions early due to their up coming Champions League match. Fortune, Giggs and Fletcher were replaced by the very ugly Neville, Forlan and Fletcher. Forlan immediately failed to spot a good run by Scholes. Jens was required to take a catch before Dennis on the right put in a great cross that Robin headed just wide. United however struck back when an attempted chest pass by Pascal went astray and Smith hit a near post top corner shot that had Lehmann well beaten. The lino had raised his flag but the goal stood. Rightly judged by referee Mike Dean under the current law but it wouldn't have stood under previous interpretations. It was a fine shot whichever way the offside rule is interpreted. 1-1 with just under fifty-five minutes played.
After this goal United got back in the game and things started to heat up for just a brief instance. But once again Dennis, on our right, hit a great cross which Gilberto did very well to control and even better to stab pass to Reyes. Jose Antonio slammed it home for 2-1. He'd deserved a goal and his grin is going to delight many a Gooner in the coming season. I reckon he will take the Premiership by storm and many opposition defenders will feel the need for brown shorts when he runs at them.
Gael stormed forward as is his want and promptly won a free kick that upset Djemba-Djemba who took to grabbing hold of a throat. There was a bit of pushing and shoving as is the norm whenever we are beating United with the net result that Djemba and Cole went in the book. Cole's misdemeanour must have been off camera but was probably because he wasn't about to take any crap from a prat like Djemba. Djemba-Djemba only had Dejemba on his shirt, so maybe United are looking to economise on shirt-lettering this season. In which case they could also try '9 Cheat', that would certainly save letters, as would '2 Ugly'. '3 Pig Ugly' wouldn't be a saving, but certainly more accurate.
Pennant took the free kick which was headed clear before Cole blasted over. United youngsters Eagles and Richardson replaced Smith and Scholes. Forlan got through the centre but Jens was there to gather the ball on the edge of our area. Djemba had a kick at Cesc who was still the youngest player on the pitch, and it has to be said, one of the best on the pitch. Van Persie to pennant provided Neville with an o.g. opportunity but he failed to convert. Clichy did brilliantly again and found Cesc who turned on a Euro and fired just wide.
So our awful blue kit made a nice debut, Arsenal looked sharp, the team played well and everyone involved came out of it with credit. This was a promising start but we all know that however mush fun it is picking up a trophy that this match counts for nothing in the context of the coming season. We did look good though.