Parth Shah (Sportz Interactive), Jan 22, 2012

United ride on Valencia's form as Arsenal suffer from Wenger's moment of madness

Here's a scenario. The away team have controlled the first half, but the home team have made a deserved comeback and the game is level with 15 minutes to go. The supporters are on the edge of their seats expecting a late rally for a winner. It might just happen, it's not impossible. The home team's manager wants to affect the game and do as much as he can.

He brings on an uninterested wide forward for a winger who has impressed on debut and is very pleased with himself for setting up the equaliser. This decision gets booed and the captain shows his disgust too. The substitute is involved in the concession of the winner. The team has lost a game that could have been won.

Remember when you made that substitution? You shouldn't have, really.
© AP Images

It can't be nice being that manager at this stage, but the chain of events speak for themselves. A bad move from Arsene Wenger; illogical, irrational and in effect, negative. Not what you would expect from a guy who is supposed to be good at economics and equations.

But this event was only the final act of an engrossing contest. There was a gripping storyline from the start and the characters played their parts.

Key Moments and Highlights

What a difference one man makes to a defense. Vermaelen’s presence at left-back boosted Arsenal’s backline tremendously and they almost held on to go in level. But Giggs got too much time and Valencia got the run on Vermaelen for once and buried the ball past Szczesny.

Van Persie was largely anonymous in the first half, but soon warmed up to the party in the second half. He saw a lot more of the ball, and the counter-attack to level the match could only have been finished by him. A brilliant run followed by an elegant finish across his body, cold and calculated. He would make a great serial killer.

Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is ridiculously talented and any more comparisons with Walcott should be outlawed. He is much better already, Walcott is the one who will have to do the catching up.

And that’s why it was utter insanity to remove the Ox just after he notched up an assist. Why, Mr Wenger? That’s all I want to know. It just didn’t feel right to remove a red-hot player with 15 minutes to go and a game out there to be won. And Arshavin certainly does not add quality anymore. He is a spent force, and the crowd’s reaction was quick and painful. Not cool, Mr Wenger.

And right on cue, the Russian was present when the proverbial shit hit the fan. Valencia skipped past 3 Arsenal players to square the ball up for Welbeck to put United in the lead in the 81st minute. Arshavin might not be the only culprit though. Alex Song just moved out of the way politely as Valencia got too close. Surely such conduct, however good-hearted it may be, should be kept aside for a different time?

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