Man.Utd. 0 Arsenal 0: Van Diver cheats again

Last updated : 22 September 2003 By Brian Dawes

Paddy kicks out at Van Diver..
Nothing remarkable there really other than the fact that they had their map book out. Which says everything there is to say about United wannabes.

I have to admit that I wasn't convinced that Arsene would pick the right team for the occasion so arrived at the ground with a certain amount of trepidation. But our line up showed that Keown was in for Campbell following the recent sad loss of Sol's father. Bergkamp was in for Wiltord and Parlour replaced Pires. As most fans were anticipating the now usual intimidatory kicking from Keane and the Neville sisters this seemed a very suitable line-up to combat their thuggery, and so it proved.

The travelling Gooners were vociferous as 'Have you ever won the League at Highbury?', 'Ooo to ooo to be oo to be a Gooner' and '60,000 Muppets amongst others opened the proceedings. The excitement in the crowd however by far exceeded anything on the pitch. Naff Neville chopped Henry in an almost mandatory fashion but the start was more like a quiet sparring match.

Everyone worked hard but Ray and Freddie worked their rocks off all match, as a result our fullbacks were rarely exposed which particularly benefited Cole who had a great match up against Ronaldo. Which was as it should be and good to see for a change.

Ronaldo might be a good player, he might not. All I saw him do was a whole load of high-speed step overs. Bouncing around with his speeding boots and worms in his hair he looks more like Ronald MacDonald than any player I've seen. He rarely got past Cole and although he probably had more shots than any other United player they were all very speculative.

Ray to Freddie for a flicked header but no support. In fact neither side really supported their lone front men with conviction. United for a home team were unusually negative, they seemed to play for a draw almost as if they were expecting the match to go to penalties on the final whistle. It was 15 minutes before the reds had a chance and this came from a free kick. Henry was caught offside, looked a bit marginal but difficult to be sure from our viewpoint. Arsenal were looking good, we had more of the ball and were pressing well but United defended deep. A United free kick wide right saw van Diver head over from well beyond the far post. At the other end Cole flashed one just past the far post after some fine work by Henry.

Both Nevilles (Naff and very Naff) managed to foul Dennis simultaneously. A Fortune header was easy for Lehmann. It was happening at both ends on and off, but nothing that could be construed as a really clear-cut chance to either team. But with both teams more or less playing 4-5-1 not a lot was likely to happen. Thierry managed to set up Dennis for a wild shot, Ronald MacDonald fired over from range, Dennis beat two men but couldn't find Parlour, O'Shea won a corner after Giggs's foul on Dennis went unpunished. Claims for handball by United fans resulted in the 'handball' pisstake party piece from the Gooners. Cole creamed Ronald MacDonald to wild Gooner applause. Keane chopped Pat if only because it was expected of him, but it had been amazingly clean considering. A final hopeless shot from Ronald MacDonald before the break and the half ended.

As half time arrived neither side had been committed to attack, maybe we edged possession maybe they edged chances, but it had nil-nil written all over it. I thought that maybe the English 'Old Firm' had agreed pre-season to take two points each and then both give Chelsea a good stuffing. Deciding the Championship elsewhere.

You have to stand up at half time at Old Trafford and walk about because the amount of legroom provided would make a pigmy wince. I'm less than 5'11" but have trouble so heaven knows what it's like for taller guys or girls. Unusually the bars were open for alcohol and the coppers were not in riot gear when we arrived this time. I asked a policeman why the change of policy and he said it was 'because you lot don't cause a threat'. I assume he just meant aggro wise because we usually threaten to drown out the muppets and take the piss. Most often we succeed. The new Arsenal shirts continue to impress, as does the 'names' seen on them, I spotted 'Goonerbird 1' and 'Spurs 61' at Sundays match.

... and is sent off for it
Lehmann arrived back on the pitch at the sunny end without a cap, poor forward planning on his part which he rectified by making some poor soul sprint off to the dressing room for one. Naff Neville was late on Bergkamp, has he ever arrived on time for a tackle? Freddie went down very close to the box but the ref was about 40 yards away and pretended he knew what happened, as if. A Gilberto shot won a corner. Henry had a wild shot from wide right that also won a corner. A dummy from Dennis almost put Freddie in. Ronald MacDonald shot again from a narrow angle. O'Shea chopped Lauren, nothing given. Toure won a clean tackle on Van Diver and got carded, the free kick being punched clear by Jens.

Keown headed clear, Henry was obstructed on the halfway line - nothing given. A Van Diver shot was easy for Lehmann. The match warmed up a little, the intensity rose as we won another corner. Keown seemed to beat Fortune to the ball but got a yellow card. Arsenal broke seriously fast with Henry and Ljungberg but Henry didn't keep up for the return ball. We were playing now. Henry almost got in as we continued to pressurise United.

Cole won a free kick when Van Diver chopped him down. A Henry header from range went well wide. All the subs warmed up to the tune of 'ArseneWengersredandwhitearmy - we hate tottnum' A foul by Naff Neville on Pat, actually given on this occasion, before another good Arsenal break. Vieira on Fortune, another free kick. Fortune then tried to foul Pat but only succeeded in injuring himself. 'We won the League in Manchester'. Henry called offside, seriously marginal.

Henry to Ljungberg to Vieira, just too far but a blinding move. Diego Forlan, the Sally Gunnell lookalike, came on for O'Shea. Ronald MacDonald won a joke free kick against Cole which Lehmann caught from Giggs' kick. Van Diver was well offside, but not given, this was Old Trafford after all! Fortune who enjoyed his time on the floor fell over again and Pat was carded this time. Bennett had to chase Pat to show it though. Not long after this, with Pat on a yellow, Van Diver went up with the sole purpose of putting his foot into Pat, he succeeded, hurt Pat and Pat gestured with a silly air kick in his general direction. The cheating pile of puss leap back as if shot. Second yellow for Pat, yellow for Van Diver, presumably for playacting. If Bennett didn't see the foot in on Pat there will of course be an enquiry from the FA. Will there feck! Ten men Arsenal played on and regrouped as Edu replaced Dennis in the aftermath.

Ronald MacDonald chopped Freddie for a yellow card. Freddie limped off as Cole limped back, I didn't see where Ashley got injured. Cole kicked again and goes down as the angelic United heroes fail to kick the ball out of play. Not being able to beat ten maybe they thought they had a remote chance against nine. Cole was not allowed back on as Bennett aided United's cause, there must be a goal in the script Ferguson gave him pre-match was my first thought. Why shouldn't an injured player be allowed back otherwise after treatment?

Forlan into the back of Freddie, no yellow. Edu went close with a whistling long range free kick with forty seconds to go. United were given three added minutes to cheat their way to three points. And goodness gracious me, heaven forbid, how strange that Sally Gunnell should go down in the area. Penalty to United. What a shock! It was at this point that I threw my notebook to the ground and stamped on it whilst swearing at Forlan, the ref, and all the United muppets whilst using every four letter word under the sun interspersed with words like cheating, dirty, filthy, despicable, detestable, expletive, expletive and more expletives. I had a good view and if that was penalty then my balls are 24 carat and my name is David Beckham.

Meanwhile Jens was out to the edge of the box searching out Van Diver following him around and giving him some verbal. The kick was taken as Jens did a wild German dance left and right about a yard behind the line. The cross-bar was rattled something fierce and we all pissed ourselves laughing at Van Diver as the ball rebounded into play. His third miss in succession I believe. Two fingers all round and a major mouthful to the man who was supposed to score the penalty in the script Ferguson handed to Bennett prior to kick off.

Hilarious - Van Diver hits the bar
Final whistle and complete delirium on and off the pitch. We deserved the point if not more and we certainly didn't deserve to be cheated out of it. The cheating detestable Manc scum had failed to achieve by foul means what they couldn't achieve by fair means. The Arsenal players made a point of telling Van Diver what a detestable cheating pile of flotsam he was and Keown very kindly gave him a foretaste of the hairdryer treatment he could expect from the soon to be banned to the stands Fergusmoan.

Arsenal players are sick to death of the cheat Van Diver getting away with punches, kicks, stamps, elbows and dives, all whilst being treated like an innocent angel. At the final whistle an explosion of pent up feelings and abuse were hurled his way and he'd dived and cheated for everything he got. Arsenal have now made the point on behalf of Premiership Clubs everywhere that Van Diver may be a great player but that doesn 't prevent him from being a nasty, despicable cheating individual. In the old days he would have got a seriously good kicking by a seasoned pro and warned to change his ways by his fellow professionals. In the Premiership today he is given penalties and his victims are penalised with red or yellow cards. If only someone else in the Premiership had the balls to stand up to United other than Arsenal, if only all the other Clubs wouldn't just roll over and die.

Of course Manure's media lackeys won't see it like that, the poodles of the press will toe the Fergie line and demand a full F A enquiry. After all Arsenal stood up to be counted, which wasn't in the script. Arsenal told Van Diver what they thought of him and that mustn't be allowed.