Despite dominating both possession and shots, Arsenal fell to defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Saturday at The Emirates.  The 2-1 loss not only saw the Gunners drop down to eighth in the Premier League standings, but it also marked the first league defeat at home for the north London club in 15 months (also Manchester United’s first league victory on the road since April).

Following the match that saw Arsenal have 61% of the possession and outshot their opponents 23 to 12 (including nine shots on goal compared to just two for United), manager Arsene Wenger claimed to have been angry and frustrated over the final result.

Wenger stated, “I’m just angry because the players do not get rewarded and our fans do not get rewarded for the result that was just there for the taking today.  We have suffered against United before but we cannot say that we suffered against them today.”

The Frenchman went on to finish, “We were 1-0 down and we wanted to desperately come back, and we forgot our principles a little bit.  I have a lot of respect for this group because of their great attitude, spirit and energy levels.  Maybe the disappointment of being 1-0 down meant everybody wanted to go forward too much.”

The 65-year-old manager is certainly right to suggest that his team pushed forward too much leading up to Wayne Rooney’s breakaway goal in the 85th minute of the match.  When the score was just 1-0 and Rooney was put into a one-on-one scenario with the Arsenal goalkeeper, the Gunners had just one defender in their own half of the pitch (Nacho Monreal).  With both full-backs and the other center-back (Per Mertesacker) well into Manchester United’s half, Arsenal gave Rooney an extremely simple chance at goal to put Arsenal down by two goals late in the match.

Besides the poor decision by the Arsenal defense to go forward too far, and perhaps too early considering there was still eight minutes of extra time eventually added to the clock, there are two things that both Arsenal and Wenger need to do to make sure they secure a top four finish at the end of the season.

One of Arsenal’s biggest issues during the match on Saturday was their lack of finishing around the box.  Striker Danny Welbeck missed a couple of decent chances at goal within the first 10 minutes or so of the match, and then Midfielder Jack Wilshere flubbed a golden opportunity in the 14th minute after sending the ball straight to the Manchester United goalkeeper from about eight yards out.

There is no doubt that the Gunners have missed forward Olivier Giroud this season.  The France international striker made his return from injury during the game on Saturday after missing out on the last three months due to a foot fracture.  It did not take long for Giroud to make an impact on the game, as he scored a wonderful goal in extra time to cut the Manchester United lead to 2-1.

Having Giroud fit and healthy again will surely give a boost to the Arsenal front line; however, fellow striker, and a very solid finisher of the ball, Lukas Podolski can’t seem to find his way on the pitch for the Gunners this season.  With Wenger relying heavily on Welbeck up front (and the England international has been a solid addition to the squad), it seems that Arsenal could benefit from having a more skillful finisher of the ball to link up with the ultra-talented Alexis Sanchez up front.

Besides the lack of finishing, the Gunners are in desperate need of defensive help.  Since Laurent Koscielny was sidelined with an achilles injury last month, Arsenal have been lackluster on the defensive end.  The January transfer period will be absolutely crucial if the Gunners are to move back into the top four (they are still only two points away from fourth place), and both the center-back and defensive midfielder positions should be thoroughly addressed at that time.

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