Manchester United vs. Arsenal Preview
So we arrive at another weekend and yet another huge fixture in the month of August. With some of the negativity quashed following decent if not faultless display midweek, we are once again up against it, against the champions.
I have made my feelings on their squad known in the past but I have to be honest they have looked very impressive thus far. When Ferdinand and Vidic were out I was sure the inexperienced defence/goalkeeper combination would be exposed. Low and behold Ferguson manages to make them play like champions. They have looked composed at the back and frightening going forward. Not exactly the ideal backdrop for a game of this magnitude, especially when you factor the 43,000 injuries and 8,000 suspensions we are facing, of which most seem to come from our midfield. This is going to be a really tough test. I expect Vermaelan will play regardless of the niggle because quite plainly we cannot afford to lose him for this fixture.
Not only will the match be difficult, but so will be the reaction of the media if we lose. Strange that they will be ready to stick the knife in when a team who has been made underwhelming outsiders may lose. Surely they are expecting this, then why the clamour to denounce us and our ways. One person not expecting defeat though, not publically at least is Arsene Wenger. I felt he gave a promising, honest and spirited display at the pre match press conference and does believe his side may be able to get something from the game. I agree, though am not overly confident. It is not all black and white in football and in times like these you can have unexpected results, for instance Man United lost to Liverpool when form, league position and probability suggested otherwise. United had a poor day at the office whilst Liverpool were superb. These results can happen and we have every chance of making it happen with the right work ethic, careful selection, discipline and most importantly a little bit of luck.
Given the problems, particularly in midfield I expect the starting XI to be: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Vermaelan, Koscienly, Sagna, Djourou, Ramsey, Rosicky, Walcott, Arshavin, Van Persie
Whilst if we continue the way we have been playing and United continue in similar vein, logically there can only be one winner.
I however hope to defy logic, and here are 5 reasons Arsenal can beat Manchester United.
- Arsenal won in their last fixture against united without Cesc Fabregas. They will have the belief which they have lacked in this fixture for the past few years and I expect them, especially Ramsey to be full of confidence. Ramsey bossed the game in this fixture and whilst it will be away from home this time around, there will be a belief that they can win this big game, one which may not have existed in years prior to last season. The fact that this was done without Fabregas, and he was not missed in the slightest in this fixture.
- Rooney needs to marked out of the game, much the way he was by Alex Song. Song, though has his tendencies to ignore the tactics and go wondering at times played a disciplined game last season. He made it almost impossible for Rooney to get a foothold into the game and made the life of our defence easier. For once. This time around however, the only fit DM we have is Colequin who has had the sum total of 0 Premier League starts and therefore surely cannot be risked in such a high stakes game. I therefore see, defensive injuries permitting, Johan Djourou playing that role, one which he claims is his natural position. If he can be as tactically disciplined then we have every chance of blocking out one of United’s main threats.
- Robin Van Persie: I know this is just one man, but one man capable of creating magic from nothing. He has the potential at any time to score a goal or create something which we may very well need given the lack of clear cut chances in big games. He has the technical ability to even get you a goal against the run of play and if he is on top form it is very likely he will make something happen.
- Szczesny/Vermaelen/Koscienly: Assuming the latter two are fit there is every chance they can have another top game. When all three have played together, they have not conceded a goal. Of course this is a different test but if Arsenal are to have any chance today you have to expect that these three will have a big game. Szczesny has been immense since the start of the season and he seems to be the answer to our problems in goal. If he can carry on this sort of form, it will take something special to beat him.
- Arsenal have something to prove. You have to realise that all of the headlines and reports of Arsenal’s impending doom will have been read by all of these players. They are well aware what the media think of them and hopefully not aware of what Arsenal fans are saying about the team. Of course it has been with Arsenal’s best intentions at hearts from the fans, and quite the opposite from the media, the players credibility has been questioned as has their ability, commitment and character. They will be very eager to show that they are able to win these big games and should still be considered challengers.
Now whilst I am not saying we will win this game, I am certainly saying it is not a foregone conclusion. I actually do not think we will win and I cannot remember the last time I said that for the life of me. I still believe that we have a chance to win and the 5 points above are just some of the reasons why. I just hope that if we lose that there is some perspective from both the fans and media and whilst I myself will be annoyed due to the lack of transfers, I will not judge our chances until the end of the transfer window. Of course there are exceptions and if we lose 4-0 that will be entirely different, but unlike some people I do not expect that to be the case.
Here’s to hoping I am right about us having a good chance to get a result and have a good day and good weekend.