Did Manchester United deliberately target Gael Clichy?

February 2, 2010

Gael Clichy’s form over the past 18 months has been a real cause for concern for Arsenal fans. When Ashley Cole left for Chelsea in 2006, the consensus amongst Gooners was that Arsenal hadn’t done too badly, because Clichy stepped into the first team and was playing consistently well. And indeed, better than Cole was playing for Chelsea. But Cole’s return to world-class status seems to have coincided with Gael Clichy’s downfall. He had a poor 2008/09 and hasn’t played much better this season.

After a spell out injured (when Arsenal fans were very impressed with his deputy, Kieron Gibbs, who himself is out for the rest of the season), he’s returned and seems distinctly out of sorts.

Clichy had a torrid time at Villa Park in midweek, Ashley Young constantly outpacing him, and Stewart Downing also giving him problems. Against United, Nani had the beating of Clichy all day long, constantly outpacing him, beating him for skill, and defeating him in the air.

And it does seem to have been a deliberate tactic for United to target him, just from looking at Edwin van der Sar’s distribution – the vast majority of his goal-kicks heading directly towards Clichy’s left-back area.

Clichy used to be Arsenal’s most reliable defender, now he seems to be regarded as a weak link.

by Guardian Chalkboards

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