Arsenal vs Man United is the one game of the season that I look forward to most… Don’t get me wrong, shortly after it’s the home game against Sp*rs, Liverpool and then maybe Chelski, but ultimately, at the moment, it’s the biggest game of our season. Arsenal versus Man United has been a talismanic game for the Premier League since it’s conception and tomorrow – I can tell you right now – is going to be a cracker. We have played very well this season and have done extremely well to be this high up in the league considering our lack of purchases and our amazingly bad run of injuries this season.
We’ve probably had the most possession of any team in the league, we’ve also probably had the most passes, but when you look at why we’re not top of the league, it really comes down to various different points, which I’ll take a quick look at now.
Lack of finishing
When you look at the games against Man United at Old Trafford, against the likes of Villa when we got the 0-0 draw, the main issue was the lack of finishing (these are just two examples of games). Even when we have Van Persie and Niklas Bendtner, our finishing isn’t always exactly the best – but ultimately, the recent inability to convert chances into the goals is that lack of the ability to finish, which does stem from the loss of the two players above and the bad form of the recovering Eduardo and the lacklustre Carlos Vela. Vela has also been suffering from injuries and bad form this season. With Niklas Bendtner coming back and looking to slot back into the team despite a lack of training and lack of game time is testimony to the centre forward position – he will also suffer from the recovering injury syndrome and won’t be at his best for a while. He will most likely start the game against Man United and will most probably be very frustrating!
Lack of defensive discipline
When you look at the games against Chelsea and Man City, we lost defensive discipline by an overwhelming desire to win. Positionally, our defence wasn’t set up right, with Sagna and the left back of the time bombing forward and even Gallas and Vermaelen often getting frustrated and going on searing runs. The problem is the counter attack that happens next and even if it’s not really a counter attack – when the players are out of position there is space that can be exploited. We do have Alex Song and he can fill in for players when they go forward, but if we can become defensively stable and Alex Song can maintain the form that he left us with, then we can sort out the conceding goals thing.
Man United Preview
So, it would probably make sense to take a look at the game tomorrow and it’s an important game for us to win tomorrow, especially after the draw against Villa. It’s war at the top of the table and the games against us and United and us and Chelsea are both six pointers. If we can win, then we’ll be right up there – if we lose, we will be right down there.
With Vermaelen most likely to miss the game tomorrow, it looks like Sol Campbell will play alongside Gallas in his third game in one week. When you sign a 35 year centre back and he ends up playing so many games in such a short period of time, you can definitely see that there is a major gap in the squad.
Looking at the players ahead of the game, the line up should be:
Sagna – Gallas – Campbell – Clichy
Song – Denilson
Rosicky – Cesc – Arshavin
Now, based on the players available I think Arsene will chose the above line up, but considering that Rio will miss the game, it may be more sensible not to play Bendtner and instead revert Arshavin to the central role allowing Nasri to come into midfield – a team that could outwit United.
Sagna – Gallas – Campbell – Clichy
Song – Denilson
Rosicky – Cesc – Nasri
The second team I’ve noted here is a bunch of players who are on form and will have that extra 10%, whereas, Niklas Bendtner may be able to come on and make an impact from the bench. It’s a tough one, but with Rooney leading the line, I would expect to see both Song and Denilson in the team.
Let’s take a listen to Arsene pre-match, the gaffer had this say:
“We are very close in the League and so it is back to an Arsenal versus Manchester United of old. Last year we were out of it and the games had less meaning. Yes two years ago it was a big game but what is different this year is that we are on the way up so it is very interesting. It comes at a good moment for us. Over the years, Manchester United and Arsenal have had some tough games, and sometimes they were not easy on the physical side. But both teams always tried to play. It was very rarely a boring match. For me it is always one of the games of the season and so we are really up for it. We are on a good run and we have a good momentum. We want to continue that. And I always look forward to this match because it is one that promises good football.”
Okay, well, it’s not really back to Arsenal vs Man United of old because there is a small matter of another team ahead of both of us with a game in hand! The gaffer continued:
“I wouldn’t speculate too much on any weakness of Man United. Let us focus on our strengths and show that we have made a big improvement compared to last year. At Villa we got away and maybe we were a bit frustrated with the 0-0 but Villa have beaten everybody in the League apart from us. They have beaten Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool – everybody. We got four points from Villa this season so I believe we have made big, big strides forward and it is a good opportunity on Sunday to show that. It was our dream to be in this position at this time of the season. Now we know that to be successful in this [four-game] period [we must] be more a team than the other teams. We have to think how strong and how much solidarity it takes to get through a period like this. However no matter what happens after these games we will still be in a position where we will have a chance but we can put ourselves in a very strong position and that is what we want. The first hurdle demanded a lot of commitment from us and we must be capable to repeat this kind of commitment.”
And I really think that we’re in a decent state of mind considering the challenges we’ve had – players have got back in time for this game, we are at home, we have a lot of talent to win the game, and if we can avoid defeat in the next three games, we’ve got a clear run in to the title…
Come on you gooners…. more in the comments later and more on twitter as usual…. Have a good one my friends…