Good morning Grovers!
Massively exciting game happening at Old Trafford today at 1245. It’s hugely nerve racking. I always think we’re going to turn them over but it’s rarely as simple as that. They’re the stand out team of the last twenty years even when they’re not a stand out pack of 25 individuals.
Right now, I’m not sure I believe in the United squad. They have a horrible defensive record this season. They don’t seem to work as a unit and their keepers are below average when compared to years gone by. United have conceded over double the about of goals Arsenal have (13 t be precise). When was the last time you can remember us having a defensive record as good as that? United don’t really boast a midfield of the highest quality. I personally don’t think there’s a standout player there at the moment. That doesn’t mean they can’t damage you and that doesn’t mean there’s no talent in there. I just can’t help but think they’ve been riding a the crest of very lucky wave.
Arsenal have only won once at Old Trafford in the last ten years.
I don’t know which team they’ll line up with, but I’d guess Ferguson will have noted our keeping deficiencies. That’s why I expect Valencia to start. United will power crosses into our box all game long and hope that Manonne stays true to form. They’ll also shoot on sight. If there’s one thing the Italian specialises in, it’s not holding onto long range shots (and spilling them back into the path of strikers). United are well equipped to pull off a strategy like that. Rooney and Van Persie are deadly combo up front and they’ve been keeping the dream alive with some superb performances. If Kagawa plays, again, we’ll have to be super vigilant, he finds space to run into that others don’t and he’s a pretty switched on finisher when he’s playing well.
Arsenal have the advantage of being a very good side on paper. Our back 5 bar Mannone should be a solid barrier to anyone. Trouble is, our captain has flattered to decieve of late. His positional sense has been shoddy and individual mistakes have crept into his game. Today he has to exorcise the demons of Cygan and pull his season back on track. It’s a shame we don’t have Gibbs to call on, but on the other side, we will have a math fit Sagna. It’s going to be very tough to keep a clean sheet today.
In the midfield, I’d expect to see Arteta, Jack and Cazorla. What a line up eh? That midfield should cause problems all day long. They’re all top, top talents. They all have a disciplined approach to both attack and defence and they’re all capable of splitting opposition defence. I do hope the manager ignores the overwhelming desire to play Aaron Ramsey in the side.
The front three is where the contreversy will sit today. I personally can’t see past Giroud through the middle. He gives us a target man who boasts height and power. We need someone capable of holding up the ball, but more importantly, someone who capable of turning the posession into a chance or an opening for a another player. The wide options will also be interesting. Will Theo get a chance? How can he not after the game he had in the week? On the left side of midfield, does Wenger opt for a player who has given Santos no help over the last two games in Podolski. Does he go for the inexperienced Chamberlain? Does he stick in the paceless Ramsey? Or does he go for the total curve ball option of Eisfeld?
I have no idea. I fear Rambo will find his name on the team sheet. Oh how I wish we had a Yossi that was 5 years younger. I think we’ll go for a Theo Podolski combination. Theo has to continue his electric form. He can’t get too caught up with thinking. He just needs to go with his gut. Run at their full backs and make that decision, or pass. Midway dithering slows the team down. I hope he’s pulled to one side before the game starts and is told to put his central ambitions behind him. Creeping down the middle and leaving us tactically exposed to prove a point in a game as big as this is not the answer to his striking dreams. Podolski also needs to be shown videos of himself creeping inside and shown the damage that can do to our full backs. If those two give us width, it’ll make us a far more difficult proposition for the United back four. The midfielders need to remember the strengths of our striker, crosses into the box on the floor or in the air. Help Giroud be a nuisance today and something will come of it.
It’s going to be interesting to see which Arsenal team turns up today. Will it be the battling well oiled machine we know the side can be, or will it be the barely interested group of professionals who are feeling a bit down in the dumps? With the names that could potentially be on show, I’m opting for the big game players today. A win here puts us right back in contention and gives us a platform to build from in November. A loss, well, you can’t help but think that leaves us chasing very little at this early stage of the season. Today is when we’re given a true glimpse into the progress we’ve made. It’s going to be tough, but the ingredients are there for a classic regardless.
As for the Robin thing. I’m really not interested at all. He’s a great player. I don’t hate him. I would however, like the club to show him he was wrong to leave. Wenger should be using this sub-plot to motivate the players. He didn’t think the squad was good enough to compete for trophies, the only way you combat an attitude like that is make your statement on the pitch. Nothing we do in the stands will make a difference.
I also can’t be bothered to get into the conspiracy of the refereeing association. It’s so boring it doesn’t merit reference. Sure, United seem to get a lot of decsisions, but this total obsession some Arsenal fans have with uncovering conspiracy plots is beyond pathetic. Let’s not look for pre-match excuses. If we’re good enough today, we’ll win. Simple as that.
What the manager’s saying…
He reckons he didn’t move for players with haste last summer…
That’s what people said, but if you look at who we bought we got Mertesacker,”
“We were criticised a lot for that, but today who would still criticise us for that?
“We bought Arteta, who was a very important player [last season] and still is a very important player for the team.
“We brought in Benayoun, who was very influential at the end of the season for us. We bought Santos and Park. So overall, we have not done badly.”
I don’t think anyone was going too crazy about the signings last summer. I certainly wasn’t. Mertesacker was definitely not high on the agenda of most when it came to criticism, nor was Arteta. The point everyone made was around the lateness of the signings. From a manager who claimed he wanted to do his business early, the timelines of doing it all in the last week of August didn’t really look like there was much attempt to follow up on that promise. Also, if we’d been looking at Park for any longer than 16 minutes, then whoever was in charge of that deserves their P45.
I don’t like all the noise around that horrible defeat. That’s why it’s so important for Arsenal to do the fans proud today and put in a world class performance. It feels like a while since we’ve seen one of those, today has a nice vibe about it.
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What are you thinking?