Saturday 21 September 2019

Marouane Fellaini is great until he gets the ball at his feet - Five things we learned from Arsenal's win at Old Trafford

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini look dejected after Arsenal's second goal
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini look dejected after Arsenal's second goal

Marouane Fellaini is great until the ball is at his feet and four other lessons from FA Cup clash.

Marouane Fellaini is great until the ball is at his feet:

Marouane Fellaini was a man going nowhere this time last season, with his move from Everton proving a disaster, but the Belgian deserves credit for resurrecting his United career under Louis van Gaal.

The Manchester United manager realises that Fellaini’s physical presence gives his team an extra dimension and the approach worked in patches against Arsenal.

Fellaini won everything in the air, displayed some excellent chest control, but when the ball was at his feet, everything came to a shuddering halt.

There is a sense that Fellaini is a means to an end, a tool used by Van Gaal to get United to a certain point, but if he is to have a real future at Old Trafford, the midfielder needs to work on his touch and distribution.

Danny Welbeck celebrates with his Arsenal teammates Hector Bellerin and Mesut Oezil after scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Danny Welbeck proves his point to Louis van Gaal: 

Louis van Gaal claimed he sanctioned Danny Welbeck’s sale to Arsenal last September because the England forward had failed to prove himself a reliable goalscorer at Old Trafford.

Statistically, the United manager may have had a point and Welbeck’s hit-and-miss form at Arsenal ensures that the jury remains out on his true value as a centre forward.

But even though his goal return for United was average, Welbeck had a habit of scoring in the big games and he did so again for Arsenal in this game.

It was his first goal of 2015, but he could not have picked a better time or place to score it.

Marcos Rojo looks an accident waiting to happen:

Marcos Rojo has been a steady success for Manchester United since his £16m transfer from Sporting Lisbon last August, but the Argentine defender plays on the edge and he appears to be an accident waiting to happen at times.

During his two-year spell in Lisbon, Rojo was sent off five times and his performance against Arsenal gave a glimpse as to why.

The 24-year-old was fortunate not to concede a penalty with a first-half tug on Danny Welbeck and his forceful challenges also risk costly cards or free-kicks.

Rojo got away with it on this occasion, but with some big games coming for United, he may fall off his tightrope.

This was United v Arsenal Lite: 

There were plenty of spiky characters at Old Trafford to remind us of United-Arsenal clashes of old, but they were consigned to the television studio and the directors’ box.

Roy Keane and Ian Wright exchanged opinions as pundits, while Peter Schmeichel and Martin Keown watched from the stands, but they were all probably scratching their heads at the absence of the blood and thunder which typified these games when they central figures.

They say you do not appreciate what you have until it is gone and that old maxim was certainly proved correct as the two teams played out a game devoid of meaty challenges and simmering feuds.

It may have been prettier on the eyes, but this fixture just does not feel right when it is played without the prospect of an explosion at any moment.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla is closed down by Manchester United trio Daley Blind, Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young during the FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Santi Cazorla has grown into a crucial player for Arsenal:

Santi Cazorla has always possessed the flair to be an Arsenal player, but the Spaniard has added desire and sharper game intelligence to become a crucial part of Arsene Wenger’s team this season.

Cazorla was outstanding in the January victory at Manchester City and he was equally influential as Arsenal progressed to the semi-finals.

While United plodded along in midfield, Cazorla gave Arsenal the ability to go forward and his vision in the final third constantly opened up their opponents’ defence.

If Arsenal are to retain the cup and secure Champions League qualification, then Cazorla will be a central figure in both pursuits.

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