The problem appears to be mental as Arsene Wenger said after the match that his players were nervous. I felt we were a bit nervous at the start. We didnt play our game. We showed nervousness and gave United confidence by making a mistake at our first-set piece. We rushed our game too much and lost too many balls, said Wenger at the post-match press conference.
Arsenal havent won at Old Trafford since 2006 and according to Wenger, that was the reason why his boys were nervous to start with.
In a way he has admitted that Arsenal are still struggling to get the monkey off their back which is a little surprising, given the fact that they are trying very hard this season to turn the corner. Also, the Gunners now have the wherewithal to usher in a new dawn.
They arrived at Old Trafford on the heels of three successive Premier League wins and also an excellent 1-0 away victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. They were the form team of the tournament and were expected to intimidate a Manchester United side in decline. But the game showed why Arsenal are still Arsenal and United are United.
Arsenal boast of the best midfield in English football with their 42 signing Mesut Ozil leading the charge. The players around him Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere form an excellent support cast. But do they have the quality to control the game on Ozils off-day Their approach during Sundays loss didnt inspire confidence. Rather than trying to step up to the plate, they preferred to play second fiddles and looked clueless, when Phil Jones had the German play-maker in his back pocket.
Yes, Arsenal missed Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlains pace upfront as they were out injured. So was Per Mertesacker, whose absence was hugely felt during Van Persies goal. But champion sides are expected to thrive in adversities and raise their standards.
Arsenal did that regularly during the time of the invincibles, but eight trophy-less seasons and departure of a few top players in the last few years seem to have taken some steel off them. Just one loss after a series of wins is no big deal.
Theyre still on top of the League, but their tetchy performance against United has put a question mark over their ability to bounce back from reverses.
Arsenal would be better off, taking a leaf out Uniteds book. The season started awfully for the defending champions following a change
of guard at the dug-out. Liverpool beat them, Manchester City hammered them and West Brom humiliated them. Just three and a half months into the job, new manager David Moyes was dealing with uncertainties.
United had to win against Arsenal to keep their title hopes alive. A loss, which would have placed them 11 points behind the League leaders, would have meant disaster. The champions had to respond and according to Alan Hansen, they did it with their best performance of the season.
It was a massive game for United and Moyes, and they absolutely delivered. This was their best performance of the season.
It will also have erased some of the doubts that have been hanging around Moyes since the start of the season, after beating one of the top four, at least for the time being, wrote Hansen in his Telegraph column.
Basically, it was down to Uniteds winning mentality which is in their DNA. This has made them a serial winner. So, as Christmas approaches, theyve now got into the damage control mode. United have to keep on winning to make up for their early season's bad form, but three victories in a row in the Premier League is a step in the right direction.
Titles are not won in November, theyre won in April-May. Perhaps Arsenal need a world-class striker, Olivier Giroud's decent form notwithstanding, in the January transfer window. But more importantly, they need to inherit some of United's DNA to be in contention five months down the line.