Apologies for the lack of recent blogs, however, over the last two days I was hit by a severe case of man flu… the kind of man flu that rendered me pretty useless… but thanks to all variety of medicines and remedies, I am on the road to recovery… And just in time for one of the biggest games of our season…
Manchester United vs Arsenal
To be honest, when I look at the fixture list at the beginning of the season, the fixtures that I always look out for are Sp*rs and Manchester United – home and away – as for me, those 4 games are the BIG ones. Yes, Chelsea and Liverpool games are interesting, tough and exciting – but nothing compared to the old rivalry which is United and Arsenal.
We go to Old Trafford top of the table (well, all may change when Sp*rs meet Chelsea later today), and since there was no game since the middle of last week, it has allowed alot of discussion and a lot of talk happen prior to the game. Both sets of players have been at it and it’s clear that the psychological games have moved from manager to players in recent times…
It all started with that little dirty left back of their, Patrice Evra who claimed that Arsenal are not in the race for the title and that we won’t win anything this season. It’s the least that I would have expected from Evra to be honest – he has no respect for anyone – his antics at the World Cup were obvious and a true show of his character.
Bacary Sagna, who is increasingly a spokesman for the club, agreed that Evra’s style is very crass:
“I would never allow myself to criticise another team. It shows a lack of respect. Patrice loves to wind people up and raise the temperature. That is his way of doing things, but it does not affect me in any way.”
I think it probably does affect him – hence why he’s speaking about it and perhaps why he’ll probably foul Evra tomorrow night… But as I’ve said – Evra is being very disrespectful and is a complete embarrassment to Manchester United.
Arsene spoke on Evra too and said:
“He gave you [reporters] some good stuff to make it all hot before the game. But we are guided by the way we want to play football and not by the statements of anybody who plays against us. Personally, I believe if you are a big player you always respect your opponent and that is what we try to do. I leave that judgement to you [whether Evra has been disrespectful]. We do not want to go into any unnecessary talking before a game like that. We want to focus on the way we want to play and ignore any provocation before a game. We are motivated by the desire to win the game and by the quality of the football we want to play.”
Their manager has also been in on the “psychological games” when he started talking about our maturity. Sometimes Ferguson says nice things about his opponents to lull them into a false sense of security – although complimentary to a degree – I don’t think any of our fans or players will be bothered with what he has to say:
“I think they’ll still try to play the attractive football Arsene believes in, but there’s definitely been a slight change. The general shape of the team has been far more mature and aggressive this year. They’re top of the league – that’s a sure indication that they are better than they were last year and they’ll have a chance. They were very difficult to beat in the days of Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira and the three at the back – Keown, Adams and Bould. That brought them great success and I think that this team is showing that kind of maturity now.”
For us, all eyes are going to be on Samir Nasri, who has been in the form of his life. Many people will point to the summer as the key reason why Samir Nasri is hitting the form he is now, and of course it has been a key contribution both mentally and physically – but ultimately, the efforts that Arsene did to get Nasri to the club at such a high fee for us – with a reported fee of around £15m – are starting to pay off now.
I’m sure Nasri will start tomorrow against United – I doubt Arsene will play 2 strikers like he did at home, so I think up front it will be a choice between Van Persie or Chamakh. Personally, if Van Persie is fit, I hope he starts. Chamakh has been effective and of course has 10 goals to his name, but he isn’t the dynamic striker that we need to beat the big teams and I think that it where Van Persie could come in and make the difference. Having said that, Chamakh works well in away games as he is very good at hold up play.
I haven’t heard too much team news and I’m sure Kieran D will bring whatever news has been unearthed from now until tomorrow – but my predicted line up is:
Sagna – Squillaci – Djourou – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Nasri – Rosicky – Arshavin
With a bench of Szcznesy, Eboue, Denilson, Bendtner, Walcott, Chamakh and Vela…
We should hear either later today or tomorrow whether Cesc is going to be on the bench, but I doubt it… and for all I know both Chamakh and Walcott could be in the team too…
Anyway… that’s my lot for today… over to Kieran for tomorrow’s instalment!