Armand Traore has opened up on Arsenal’s humiliating 8-2 defeat by Manchester United in 2011 for the first time, saying it was like a ‘funeral’ in the dressing room post-match.
Wayne Rooney hit a hat-trick and Ashley Young bagged a brace for United that day to condemn Arsenal – who also had Carl Jenkinson sent off – to their worst defeat since 1896 and hand Arsene Wenger one of his lowest moments during his time in north London.
The Gunners were hit with injury problems in the build-up to the game, but Wenger still managed to field a side which included Robin van Persie – who missed a first-half penalty – Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Andrey Arshavin, among others.
As soon as Danny Welbeck opened the scoring for United in the 22nd minute, however, it was largely one-way traffic.
And Traore, who started at left-back that day, says he felt ‘swamped’ during the game due to the lack of protection he had in front of him.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, Traore said: “I just remember being swamped by the attack. They kept attacking on my side and I had Arshavin who wasn’t too interested in defending, so I had [Chris] Smalling and Nani doubling up on me two vs one.
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“When we didn’t score the penalty, it just went downhill from there.
“It almost felt like we were getting bullied if that makes sense; like when you’re at school and a kid is getting bullied and he can’t really do much as the other opponent or the other guy is too strong.
“At the end of the game, it was just like a funeral. It was like somebody was getting buried. Everyone was just staring at the floor. Even the boss didn’t say anything; we didn’t see him.
“On the way back, it was the same thing and it was just quiet. What can you say when you’ve shipped eight goals to one of your rivals? You’re stupefied and just like, ‘wow, what’s just happened?’
“I got absolutely slaughtered because when Wayne Rooney came to shake my hand, some people didn’t like the fact I gave a little corner smile. That was the wrong thing to do at the time; I wasn’t taking it lightly, it was more nerves.”
That game proved to be Traore’s last in an Arsenal shirt before he sealed a move to QPR for an undisclosed fee.
However, the Senegal international’s fate was sealed before that fateful day at Old Trafford.
The full-back had already agreed terms on a move to Loftus Road and was due to have a medical ahead of the 8-2 thrashing, but the move was pulled at the last minute after an injury crisis was further compounded when Bacary Sagna fell ill.
Bowing out as an Arsenal player in such humiliating circumstances is something which hurt Traore, and it is a feeling which has remained with him throughout his career to date.
“The game was on the Sunday and I was supposed to have my medical for QPR on the Thursday, so a few days before the game,” he explained.
“On Wednesday night, I got a call from the club telling me that I can’t go to the medical on Thursday morning because Bacary Sagna was really ill and [we were] really short on numbers as we had a few injuries.
“The boss [Wenger] wanted me to stay until after the game and he told me that I was going to travel to Manchester, but I didn’t know I was going to play. I had a chat with the manager on the Thursday and he just said, ‘I just need you to come up to Old Trafford and you can book in your medical for Monday morning’.
“For me, I already knew I was leaving on the Monday a few days after. It was absolutely horrible the way I had to leave.
“To leave when most Arsenal fans think that you don’t care that you lost 8-2 because you were caught smiling at the end was not a good way to finish at Arsenal for a club that gave me so much since I was a kid.”
Watch Armand Traore’s interview with talkSPORT, above…