A recent soccer game I watched was a rerun of a game played in May 2009 between Manchester United and Arsenal football club. The match was the second leg of the semi-finals in the contention for the UEFA Champions League cup. The UEFA Champions League is one the most prestigious tournaments in the soccer fraternity with Arsenal and Manchester United exhibiting bitter rivalry. It also features some of the top soccer players in the world including Didier Drogba, Paul Scholes, and Christiano Ronaldo.
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The match hosted by Manchester United at their home stadium, Old Trafford, was a very controversial game that ended in a 3-1 defeat of Arsenal.
The game kicked off at 18:45 EST time. The Arsenal team line up was constituted as follows: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Djourou, Gibbs, Fabregas (captain), Song, Nasri, Walcott, Van Persie and Adebayor on the starting lineup and substitutes Fabianski, Diaby, Vela, Bendtner, Silvestre, Denilson and Eboue on the bench.
Manchester United’s line up was as follows: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand (captain), Vidic, Evra, Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Park, Ronaldo, Rooney were the first eleven with Kuszczack, an impressive Berbatov, Giggs, Rafael, Scholes, Evans, and Tevez warming the bench.
Arsenal went out with a completely overhauled team from the one that had defeated Portsmouth a few days before. Robin van Persie was back in action after nursing an injury and started on the left wing to deliver his evergreen flank attacks. Djourou and Toure started at the center back to give a more defensive striking force. Fabregas, on the other hand, was moved back a little to keep a firm hold on the midfield while playing just behind Walcott.
Manchester United on the other hand widely maintained the team that had beaten Arsenal a week earlier. The only notable change was that that Park was brought in most likely with the tricky task of keeping Walcott in check. Carlos Tevez and Berbatov both started on the bench leaving Rooney as the lone striker. Ferdinand and Evra started in the defense as is always the case in games perceived to be difficult.
Arsenal blew out of the game only eleven minutes into the game. Manchester United took an early lead due to defense blunders by Arsenal defenders. Park Ji Sung and Cristiano Ronaldo netted magnificent goals within the first ten minutes. Park’s goal was a superb header from a Rooney pass while Ronaldo drove in from the left flank to beat two defenders and the goalkeeper to cement the lead. United got a third goal through Rooney which a 25 yard was shot.
A noticeably weaker Arsenal got its goal through a late penalty by Fabregas just after Daren Fletcher was sent off.
The star players for this particular game for United were surely Christiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes. Ronaldo made many efforts in supplying the ball in the midfield and was instrumental in all three goals. He made many shots on target and was quick to back peddle and defend. Scholes was very instrumental in the deep midfield and displayed generosity with the ball. He gave accurate passes and rarely lost possession.
The star player for Arsenal was Fabregas. He showed true sportsmanship as a captain by keeping his teammates motivated all through the game. He was also instrumental in all of the Arsenal attempts on goal and gave accurate passes; both short and long. Fabregas displayed high levels of fitness by tirelessly weaving through the midfield and defense all through the game.