Monday, November 5, 2007

Hargreaves finds United's football more attractive than Arsenal's

Following Saturday's 2-2 draw between the Premiership's two top teams, Owen Hargreaves, who had been a long term Manchester United target prior to his transfer to the Reds in the Summer, believes that his new employers play a more exciting, attractive brand of football than Arsenal.

"Arsenal kept the ball and had a lot of possession, but they were never really threatening. Football is about scoring goals and winning games," said the former Bayern Munich player.

"I do not think they had a clear-cut chance created in the first half, apart from the header by Gallas, and that was a set piece.

"Defensively, we did a good job and tried to control their so-called beautiful football."

Well I'd just like to clear some things up for Mr. Hargreaves.

First of all, I don't think that anyone objective can argue that Arsenal doesn't play beautiful football. Arsene Wenger's brand of first-touch football is recognized throughout Europe for being the most attractive and entertaining in club football, and while Manchester United and Barcelona both could make claims, the beauty of Arsenal's football is unparalleled.

Secondly, William Gallas' effort was far from Arsenal's only chance of the half. In fact, Emmanuel Adebayor had a brilliant chance in the 10th minute before he mistimed his jump.

It was, rather, Manchester United who lacked chances. The shot from Rooney could have been stopped by Manuel Almunia if not for a lucky diversion via Gallas. Other than that chance, United had virtually no sniff of goal in the first half. Statistics prove this as well, with Arsenal managing 17 shots (6 on target) and United testing Almunia only 4 times from 10 shots.

Hargreaves dug himself a bit deeper, adding: "They keep the ball and try to play that way, but when a team is as good defensively as ours, you can keep them at bay because we played very tight together.

"You do not get to the top by conceding a lot of goals, but it is difficult when there is so much offensive power on the pitch.

"When you win the ball back against a team like Arsenal, who take a lot of risks going forwards, is vital that you attack.

"We have a lot of quality going forwards to catch them.

"Both of our goals were from really beautiful pieces of play and theirs were a bit more scrappy."

That last one really caught my eye. Both of their goals were from beautiful pieces of play and both of ours were scrappy? Let's go over the goals.

First, Manchester United scores off of a deflection, already discussed above.

Arsenal scores back after only three minutes of the second half when van der Sar is unable to control a volley from Adebayor. The loose ball falls to Bacary Sagna who sets up Cesc Fabregas who finishes magnificently.

Then United score again. Almunia rushes out of his net to stop Patrice Evra on the edge of the 18 yard box. The United defender, unsurprisingly, passes to Cristiano Ronaldo who pops the ball into an open net.

Arsenal's second looked a bit scrappy, with the ball bouncing around like a pinball machine. However, all of the bouncing was moot - the goal had already been scored after the first volley by William Gallas. The scrappy part of the goal came from Edwin van der Sar who knocked the ball out after it had already crossed the line.

So let's go over that again. United score one goal due to luck and one due to goalie error. Arsenal score two goals from straight play. Which is the scrappy team again?

Hargreaves, stop sucking up to your new employers and face the facts. Manchester are not scrappy, but Arsenal are even less so. United play beautiful football, but Arsenal play even more beautifully. United score lots of goals, but thus far, Arsenal has scored more.