Date: 9th November 2008 at 6:33pm
Written by:

1.Manuel ALMUNIA– After his early brain fart in picking up Silvestre’s backpass, applied himself well, made the saves he needed to and literally put his body on the line for the cause. 7

2.Abou DIABY– Applied himself brilliantly and worked tirelessly all day closing down United in their own half and using his physicalpresence to full effect. If he works this hard in every game, he’ll be some player yet. 7.5

3.Bacary SAGNA– Manfully played on through obvious discomfort, had Eboue been fit I am sure Banger would not have been placed in the firing line. He performed with a grit and determination befitting of an Arsenal player. Does suffer with having Walcott in front of him, but I don’t think his ankle would have stood up to constant raids forwards anyway. 7.5

4.Francesc FABREGAS– His passing once again looked woefully out of sorts and for much of the game was completely overshadowed bu his partner Denilson (who we are led to believe is responsible for Cesc’s average form). That said one pirouhette and pass to Nasri in the second half wins us the game. Big players, like big teams, produce even when they’re not playing well. 6

8.Samir NASRI– His defensive output was woeful in the first half, which he corrected emphatically in the second. But on a day when our front two really needed support from midfield, Nasri responded with two goals and a performance that will increase his growing influence on the side. 7.5

10.William GALLAS(c)- Has been questioned more than most of late and responded with a top class performance, firstly by showing he is the world class centre half we all suspect he is, but also as a rallier and an organiser. Had much to do with the defensive resolve showed in the second half and grimaced with pain clutching his thigh throughout. Rightly criticised for his early season form, but I suspect I will be the lone Arsenal blogger to credit him for the turnaround. 8

14.Theo WALCOTT– Largely ineffective upfront, save for a good run which cleared the way for Nasri’s second goal. Defensively poor and having allowed Evra to run past him unchecked for Ronaldo’s goal in this fixture last season, it’s galling that he had not learned that lesson. Before anyone bleats about ‘naivety’ or ‘injuries’, ask yourself honestly if you’d cut Eboue or Adebayor that sort of slack. 5

15.DENILSON Pereira de Neves– One of United’s great strengths is their fluidity in attack, with Tevez, Giggs, Park, Rooney and Ronaldo all equally capable of swapping positions at any given time. That Denilson dealt with this threat so intelligently and had the confidence to play the ball out from the edge of our own area in a simple and unfussy fashion spoke volumes, an excellent performance. 8

18.Mikael SILVESTRE– Started somewhat shakily, but settled into the game to put in as composed an impressive performance as we have seen since his arrival. Another one who played through the pain barrier. 7.5

22.Gael CLICHY– His consistent, constant self. A harmonious mixture of composed defending and vibrant attacking. That Ronaldo had a very quiet second half tells you all you need to know. 7.5

26.Nicklas BENDTNER– Charged with the most thankless job in football and performed his duty impressively. He worked very, very hard and offered a goal threat, even if he couldn’t provide the finish. Maybe not his most fulminating match, but to me, the biggest sign yet we have a player with special potential. 7

SUBSTITUTES

17.Alexandre Song Billong– Came on with a positive attitude and tried to protect his back four ernestly. Might have looked for the pass instead of the long clearance in the build up to United’s goal. 6

21.Lukasz Fabianski– Thrown into the cauldron with twelve minutes left and left the game relatively unschathed. Took corsses impressively under pressure, nothing he could have done about Rafael’s special goal. 7.5

5.Kolo Toure– Came on for the last five minutes and collapsed on the floor in front of me after his miniature run out. This man needs a couple of weeks doing some laps around the training pitch because he is completely unfit. 5