Match Preview: Arsenal vs Manchester United, The Clash Of The Titans…

Arsenal v Manchester United Barclays Premier League, Emirates Stadium Saturday, November 08, 2008, 12:45 The goosebumps are ripe, the adverts are massive and of course, there are way too many pictures of Wayne Rooney on TV. It’s the game of the season. The game we all look forward to. In modern time, you cannot get bigger than this game. But this game is different. This year, United are the current Premier League and Champions League holders and in form. They have their mercurial talent of Ronaldo back and splashed out over £30 million to secure the services of Dimitar Berbatov. Meanwhile, back at home in the Emirates, we’re going through the worst form under Arsene’s management. In the last two years, we’ve lost our talisman and captain, Thierry Henry, our other captain, Gilberto and the talents of Hleb, Flamini, Lehmann and Diarra. We’ve lost three games to lower opposition including a home game against Hull. To top it all off, we’ve lost the services of our two main strikers in Adebayor and Van Persie. We lost our energetic right winger in Theo Walcott. We’ve lost our captain Gallas to injury as well as long term absentees Rosicky and Eduardo. This year, the two teams couldn’t be further apart. But, a game is just a game, and with Arsenal vs United, form goes out the window. We’re on the line at the moment and a win against our old rivals is worth more than 3 points. Our stand in captain has been speaking ahead of the game:

“Beating Manchester United would definitely turn things around for us. A win would be really fantastic for us and would show that we’d be there for the title. But it’s not a must-win, it’s just another game. We know that the Premier League is really long, we are not in the second half yet. “We just need to take it as a really important game and show United and those big clubs that we are there to fight for the title. It’s going to be a good game and we will show them we are still in the race for the title. We are fourth at the moment. We are six points behind but the season is really long. We just need to play game by game and win matches.”
With Ade and Bendtner out for the game, we’ll surely have Vela and Bendtner up front. Toure spoke on the pairing:
“The younger players have shown that they can handle the pressure. When the boss gives them the chances, they score. Vela scored three goals against Sheffield United (in the Carling Cup). It wasn’t a really easy game and he showed he is a good striker. He is progressing really well. “Bendtner is doing really well too, he is doing his best at the moment. Obviously he didn’t score against Fenerbahce [on Wednesday] but I think on Saturday if he gets a chance he will do it. The United defenders are a good test. It’s up to them to show now that it doesn’t matter against who they play, they can take their chances.”
And it’s more than important that the two play to their best. Bendtner’s game hasn’t been great in the last few games. After a good start to the season he’s added an element of clumsiness to his game which has seen him find it hard to control the ball. On the other hand, Vela has shown some excellent dribbling skills and we all know he knows how to finish. It’s a big game to make your home debut in the starting XI. Arsene’s been speaking ahead of the game and has rated both Theo and Gallas as 50:50, but sources say that Theo will definitely not be ready. Some say that he may take a pain killing injection if he has to play, but if we have to do that, there is something seriously wrong with the size or quality of our squad.
“Mikael has a broken nose with an open wound on the side. Basically he should be capable of playing. But in the next 48 hours I will have to decide what we do. You cannot rule him out and I feel he can play. But I have to decide whether I go for the gamble or not. “We will not know about Walcott and Gallas before tomorrow afternoon. It is 50:50 for both. But Manuel Almunia was back in training today so he will be available.” “As for Sagna, there was a gamble on him that I did not want to take [last night]. We could not take it today in training either. He still needed to be out of impact work. I think he should be OK for Saturday but there is still a slight concern.”
With Arsene’s sentiments about Gallas and Silvestre he may think it’s the right thing to say but in reality, 24 hours before the game, both players are pretty much out of the match considering all facts. So who’s going to play….?
Almunia Goalkeeper
Sagna Right Back Djourou Centre Back Toure Centre Back Clichy Left Back
Nasri Right Wing Song Midfielder Cesc Midfielder Diaby Left Wing
  Bendtner Striker  Vela Support Striker
With Fabianski, Silvestre, Gallas, Ramsey, Denilson, Wilshere and Simpson on the bench. There will be more from Arsene later on, and we’ll see what the progress of of some of the injured players, but it looks very much like a Carling Cup line up. But remember… But, a game is just a game, and with Arsenal vs United, form goes out the window. These players have the ability, no doubt. Will they have the confidence they thrive on tomorrow. Let me know your thoughts. It’s a big game… leave a comment.]]>

  • clash

    I would like Arsene to field and “away champions league” formation for this match, with Diaby behind the lone striker. It is important for us not to loose this game. Taking in to account our current run, this could be the only option to save this game. An out and out attacking formation might cost us dearly. If this formation is not working and if the match is heading for a stalemate, Arsene could very well tinker the formation by bringing in another striker in the form of Vela. Man U defense is not that robust this season, they conceded 3 goals against Hull. So there are chances to be capitalise and if Bendtner is up to it, then we can see some goals with this formation. Even Diaby has an eye for goal and he will show his best when played in that position than as a left winger where he goofs up all the time. Song will have to step up his game to cut out the untied attacks, basically he will have to be fast and spontaneous if he is fielded.

  • Pissed off

    No comment yet.

  • Debs

    < ![CDATA[lol pissed off! felt the same way at first ;) But I think the fact that all the games we've lost this season have been the 'lesser' teams (although we've not played against that many top teams!) shows we've got a big game mentality which is a bad thing when we play the other teams, but given as man u's a big team, that shld mean we'll be more prepared mentally, but physically is where the problem lies. We've got quite a few first teamers injured, so we just have to be hopeful those available will play really well. I expect them to, considering they're not our first choice team, so I'm sure they'll be willing to prove they can challenge the first teamers. So it's all about how much the boys want it. I hope they want it BAD, cos I do! But yeah, as I said previously, can we beat man u? YES WE CAN!!!]]>

  • ArseFan101

    < ![CDATA[Dev, great post once again!!! You're right debs, I hope the andrelin of the big game, season on a line, makes our team play... we've seen all of the starting XI perform well. I remember Vela's performances for Mexico, last year against Real Madrid and this season against Sheff United. I've seen Bendtner score so many goals for his country - and vital goals for us. Diaby can keep the ball like a Hleb or Kaka... We all know Cesc's quality - and the back four is probably the fan's choice back four anyway! Nasri is awesome, so if we all play to our best, we can win!]]>


    < ![CDATA[Can Arsenal beat Manchester United on Saturday? Of course they can! Will they? I doubt it. Sorry for being the pesimist (for once!) but unless Bendtner stops being a bloody jessie it won't happen. Don't forget Gallas will be back to unsettle the defence. I'd love Walcott to be played as the lone striker - he has pace and heart, and with Diaby/Cesc/Denilson in the middle of a five man midfield he'd have plenty of support in three forward thinking midfielders. We'd also be able to snuff out Carrick. Playing Manchester United will require pace and skill - Bendtner has the pace but he never lurks on the back of the defenders he is always drawn far to deep. Walcott however can hover and attack. Look at Rio, outpaced by the Hull forwards he was in disarray. Three midfielders with a constant rotation of popping forwards will also unsettle the back line - how many times did we see ljunberg and pires pop up unmarked in the box? Purely because they weren't expected. Nasri/Sagna (bear with me) on the wings as both get forward and both (Sagna in particular) can tackle. Then Clichy/Toure as wing backs and Djourou/Gallas centre backs. Toure played well as right back on Wednesday, and playing Sagna in front of him, means you'd have two solid, no nonsense tacklers to clamp down on orange ronnie. What you wouldn't want facing Ronaldo is Eboue getting out of postion and then giving the ball away. But such a radical lineup is unlikely isn't it and for that reason we'll fail. We'll probably play the same or similar team as at Stoke and try to defend a 0-0 (at home) and end up getting thumped. Almunia Toure-Gallas-Djourou-Clichy Sagna-Cesc-Denilson-Diaby-Nasri Walcott Thats the team that could win. Its also a team that could stop leaking goals and put an end to Adebayors wastefulness in front of goal.]]>

  • Steve

    < ![CDATA[Guys, I know this is a tough time for the club. The team has not been playing well, there seems to be a lack of concentration/consistency and the injuries have not helped. But I really think we can win this one, Wenger knows what he is doing and whatever team he puts out you can bet they won't get thrashed. I think players like Ramsey an Vela are ready for this level and will demonstrate their quality if they get the chance.]]>

  • sammy

    I don’t have any positive feeling for weekend’s game. I think we could lose that game. However, it might be getting worse before getting better. That is a learning lesson for us to understand that we have to fight to pick up every single point like any other teams. There are no easy game. We are not great team until we actually win EPL. Everyone in newspapers are saying we are talent and great team so they make us to think we are. However, we are not (At least, we are not now). We should clear our mind to fight like a soldier. Show people that our stadium is their hell and they are scared. At the moment, no team are scared us at home or away anymore.

  • harry

    < ![CDATA[We first met in 1988 , I was a boy of only 14 . We became friends but I didn’t get to see that much of you . You were in London and I was in a little town about 3 hours north of Sydney , Australia . I fell in love with you a decade later , that year you presented me with not one, but two giant pieces of silverware . A feat you would repeat for me in 2002 Throughout the years we have had our ups and downs (just like in any relationship I suppose) . I am forever thankful to you for introducing me to 2 men in particular that I now regard as personal heroes of mine . The first chaps name was Dennis Bergkamp , and i met him at Riverside , Middlesbrough on the afternoon of august 19 1995 . The second gentleman you introduced me too was a Frenchman named Thierry Henry and I met him on august 7 1999 . You have taken me to places in Europe that I will probably never see with my own two eyes . Remember that night in Milan in November 2003 when you took me to the San Siro to meet that passionate and fiery Italian family . They would still be crying into their cappuccinos after the thrashing you gave them in their own backyard . You will also remember that night in Madrid at the Bernabeu in February 2006 . No Englishman had ever left there happy , but we were grinning from ear to ear when we left our Spanish enemies to weep into their paellas . You broke my heart later that year in Paris at the Stade De France when you 13 minutes away from makin me the happiest man on earth . In all truth that only made me love you more . The way you fought so hard against that army from Barcelona , even though they had more men and we had a horrendous list of injured soldiers . You were so brave , so valiant . You have also taken me all over England . Who can forget that day at White Heart Lane in 2004 when you gave me another silver trophy , or that night in Liverpool at Anfield in 1989 when you made me wait for over an hour and a half for another lovely piece of silverware . But lately you don’t seem to be yourself , where is your passion ? where is your commitment ? My commitment to you has never waivered . I buy the uniforms that you design to show others that I love you and only you . I pay for subscription television and sometimes wait up until 4 am just to see you and i will be coming to visit you next year in April to see you in your flash big new house . I am not asking us to go back to the glory years of 2003/2004 when you never made me mad once . I am just asking you to try a little bit harder on our relationship because lately when I think of you I want to cry . So this weekend at the emiratescan I please see the old you , the old you that made me giggle like a schoolgirl , the old you that sent shivers up my spine .]]>

  • vinashin

    < ![CDATA[I suppose in the end it is a matter of one’s perspective over time. The media aided by the PR machines of Manchester, Liverpool and Chelsea, and supported by a number of Arsenal blogs, have suggested that we must win something this season otherwise it is all some sort of unspecified disaster. Who knows - we may well do. When the current period in which shots, which at any other time in the season would go in, but now suddenly hit the bar or a defender’s leg, comes to an end soon, and is not repeated, we might well win something. We’ve certainly come from much father behind much later in the season in the past. And although it is not dead certain it is possible that other teams will have their usual blips too. (I say not dead certain, because during the Unbeaten Season we didn’t have a blip - but I don’t see anyone being that good this season.) But let’s assume, just for a moment, that we don’t win anything. Will that be the proof that wholesale changes should have been made this season, and because they were not, should be made in the close season next year? For Chelsea supporters one blip means mega-crisis. Losing their long running home record and losing in Europe has sparked all sorts of gnashing of teeth, the scouting system is being junked, and people are being asked to account for their actions. I don’t like that style. Clubs should not think of only one season - even if it comes on the back of 3 bad seasons (and our last three were hardly bad). What should also be taken into account at this time is also the financial situation. It is most likely that something dramatic will happen with Manchester and Liverpool over the next two or three years. Before the credit crisis began, they could not pay the interest on their debts. That is still the same, but now it is worse because other sources of money are drying up and the obvious plan of building the club up and then selling it on with all the debts inside it, is clearly not on. Only a few Russian oligarchs and Arab royal families have the money to bail out a club any more - and interestingly they are not circling around the likes of Manchester or Liverpool. They have started to look at smaller clubs - and it is the likes of QPR and Charlton who are getting makeovers, along of course with the odd case of Manchester City. Arsenal, as we all know are stable. Their interest rates are fixed, the bulk of the property has sold, and the clubs finances don’t depend in any way on further property sales. So the overall question is, should Arsenal venture into the world of Liverpool and Manchester with its total debt crisis, or stay where it is. I’d go with the latter even if it means no trophies for several years. I intend to be supporting this club for quite a few more years to come, and I don’t really want to have to support them in a lower division, after they’ve gone bust. Of course Wenger could have brought in more players - and the injury crisis of today suggests he should have done that. Except… supposing he did have top players ready to slip into the positions where players are injured. What would these top players have been doing all season? Sitting there happily waiting their time? I doubt it. Of course I left the Ems on wednesday saddened by the draw, rather than a victory - but most seasons have blips - and for Arsenal they are often around this time. I’ll be there again tomorrow, doing my bit for the team, but perhaps more than anything I want to make sure that my club is still there in five years time and not blown away by a credit disaster. I absolutely have not given up on this season, but even if it didn’t work out this time around I know that, unlike the media who need a story a day, I can afford to bide my time.]]>

  • LEON

    < ![CDATA[i must disagree with comments that arsenal cant handle the phsycal side,the game at stoke arsenal just did not show up and quite frackly some of the tacklees from stoke were late and one thing that cannot be argued is that ade,wilcatt and sanga all had been injured due to late bad tackles from stoke, it mearly luck that ade is only out for 3 - 4 weeks,hull,bolton,blackburn ect all all phsycal sides but the difference there tackes were cleabn and fear but stoke team seamed intent all getting all but also making there got piece of players two, some of the tackles not were very poor and dangerous,arseanl are already missind edwardo because of the type dangourous tackles. i think arsenal will go with 4-5-1 formation due to lack of options upfront, at the back i would play dijouro and gallas, i know must of the fans stance on gallas,and as a captain i agree but when it comes his ability as defender he is our best defender,but when it comes toure,i realy like him he played at asrsenal for so long and evon loyal service but for more a year he has been extremly poore.i feel sylvestor has been solid and dijouro has been playing well. i have alot of faith in young team they just need some one to do the dirty work form. i dont realy rate bretnar, if does not score does realy contrebute to the team,vela looks very good to me but it will tough ask to arsenal to win without top strikers and without wilcat, i think adraw]]>

  • devday

    < ![CDATA[New post conference is that Walcott and Gallas may be available and that we're going to play a 4-5-1 with the following line up: Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Walcott, Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby, Nasri, Bendtner. With Man Utd set to name: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Ronaldo, Fletcher, Anderson, Park, Rooney, Berbatov.]]>

  • Pissed off

    < ![CDATA[Harry good stuff. Kieren am glad ur waking up to reality and deb thanks for speaking my mind. Lets hope we get something out of tommorrows match. ARSENAL;ONE LOVE , ONE GUNNERS, ONE EVERYTHING.]]>

  • debs

    I’d really like Vela to start up front with Bendtner but then who would drop to the bench? Maybe Walcott, considering he’s not really fit and he can come on later on in the game as a super-sub?


    < ![CDATA[Debs, its not like Walcott has injured his legs his arm should stop him! Thats surprsingly close to my team, with the inclusion of Bendtner at the expense of some extra defensive inclination on the flank against Ronaldo. The trouble is, Evra is a good left back and will likely make life difficult for Walcott if he doesn't come inside. That will leave the wing exposed at times and Ronaldo will be enjoying the space. I didn't rate Vela against Fenerbache - he looked very inexperienced, being dragged all over and not really getting into any spaces.]]>

  • Arif aka RF

    < ![CDATA["Emirates is No Highbury" I just read an article where Fletcher's comment "Emirates is No Highbury" makes me wonder why the oppositions think they're going to have an easy ride at their visit to the Emirates. Does that make sense? Certainly not being an Arsenal fan. But yes I feel we have left something behind. The Action still exist, but with the lack of passion. I still miss the chant at the emirates. The ambience was outstanding at Highbury, the crowd was dynamic, it took the visitors breathe away every time they visit Highbury. The Opponents use to prepare themselves Emotionally as well as Physically coz they knew, its neva goin to be an easy ride at the Highbury (Rememba the fear that was created). Well, Emirates is a different story but yet again with the same spirit. We obviously don't have the same faces, but we still pioneer the Revolutionary technique "Pretty Football" and I'm glad to to b an Arsenal Fan and a part of it in some way I believe. I kno every1 of you are dishearted by the current situation at the Emirates, so m I. But trust me guys I believe in Arsene and most importantly the spirit which made the players and the club a part of it to be known as the Greatest Club "Arsenal" I'm not amongst the JCL(Jonny come lately) or Glory hunter who support their Club only when they are at the top of the Table. Look at us we are 4 yrs withosut a silverware, but we still are commited to the club no matter what. Yes,I agree we desperately need a trophy to shut the odds up who are against us and we will. Just a bit of mental tuning required and we will crack all the answers for our confusing and frustrating questions. You hope to see things the good way, and you will. Let the good begin from 2morrows clash. Go Gunners prove them wrong who thinks we can't do it. Remember "Its not over till its Over" Once for Arsenal, stays Foreva! GO GUNNERS!!!!!!!!]]>

  • Debs

    lol ^ Kieran. I know Vela didnt play 2 well against Fenerbahce but I think against Man U he’d be fab (I think!) and for some reason, I feel that in the situation we’re in right now, with the injuries, Walcott would be better playing as an impact player against man u. Don’t know why I think so though!


    we will win..goodluck gunners

  • JDD


  • JDD


  • Gooner Get Ya

    < ![CDATA[I am not looking forward to the game as i think we will lose 3-0. To be honest I am losing faith in Wenger, he seems to have lost the plot recently. I thought Ramsey was a shining light mid week and he took him off!!! In my opinion he needs to start spending on big players in Jan to bolster our weak squad. Also Cesc needs to find his form of last season as he hasn't impressed me so far. Rant over : )]]>

  • Debs

    OMG that was amazing! I’m speechless (at the moment!) 😉

  • zaheer



    < ![CDATA[I'm interested in how angry Pissed Off will be - will he still want Wenger sacked? Great game, brilliant football - It's how I knew we could play, but I didn't dare hope. Funnily enough, Arsenal have lost 3, United have lost 2. We have a better goal difference than United as well. But no one is calling for Ferguson to be sacked. Makes you realise how fickle some of the Gooners are. Bendtner had a poor match, but Diaby was class and Denilson played well also. Great feeling inside now!]]>

  • willsscott

    Get In! that’s all I can say at the moment!

  • Pissed off

    Kieren u got me in this one. Lets do hope we can go up from here. But we still need a defensive midfielder ;lets not be blinded by the victory.

  • Fo

    2-1!!!!!!!! What a game… and breathe!