Here it is people. The big one. The Arsenal vs United FA Cup Quarter Final. So much riding on this. Ultimately our only chance of a trophy this season, but just as important… continuity of form and the psychological edge over top four rivals.
The game is massive. It could end the career of LVG if they crumble after this, which would be really special. What would be even more special for us is winning the FA Cup two years in a row, especially after Spurs lost their Capital One Cup final the other week.
The last time we played United we were sucker punched because we played in an open immature way. Tonight, with the game away, you’d hope we’d head up to Manchester with a bit more of a plan and hopefully some drilled learnings from that game and also the Monaco game.
It’s incredibly important that we win this. The keeper is changing, which is probably not a bad idea in this instance, but it’s not great for consistency when you’re trying to win a major game. We’ll have a fresh Sanchez available to play after some time out the side last week. We’ll be playing a weaker centre back pairing of Per and Kos, Gabriel has a hamstring problem (course he does). There’s a chance Monreal might be back, that’d be good, I like having him in the defence.
Up top, you’d imagine it’ll be Sanchez, Giroud and Ozil. That should be enough to cause problems if the midfield are ticking along. It’s an important game for Coquelin, I think Ferguson wrote about him being a bit of a nothing player because one of his first games was when we took a mega spanking against them a few years ago. He needs to keep his discipline and he needs to control that area in front of the back four, especially with Per in the backline.
As I’ve been bitching about the way people use stats, there have been some great ‘infographics’ pinging around. In marketing, infographics are generally a cheap way of gaining links for your website. The info is rarely interesting and it’s rarely much of a ‘graphic’. So when Robbie Savage bangs one out for BBC, you know it’s going to be pretty poor.
Sure, it’s pretty clear that Sanchez has been the better players, but look at those stats to back up the gut feel. What do they really tell you? At a very basic level, let’s get the numbers into a per minute ratio. What about sprints? What about team stats? What about ground covered? Surely the BBC has access to numbers that actually tell us things we can’t find for free? I saw another infographic that said Coquelin is better than Matic based on three or so statistics. It’s just so damn lazy and has so little context…
But anyway, it is staggering how little Di Maria has given the league this season! I think he’s playing in a fairly weak side for a horrible manager and I don’t know why United would sign a player with such poor physicality. Still, that’s LVG for you and the new United regime. Doesn’t feel like much thought goes into anything up there.
Well, bar their game plan this evening. You just know they’ll pull out all the stops because they’re playing us. We have to bring our a-game there way and we have to finally bury this away day hoodoo we have up there. They’re just a team and they’re certainly no where near as scary as City… who we dispatched with a perfect game early on in the year.
I’ll be watching the game in a casino at 645… oh my days. I’m not sure I could be an Arsenal fan in Australia.
1) What’s your most memorable FA Cup match between the two sides?
It is if course the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay, which saw the greatest FA Cup goal of all time.
The match had everything and of course, had Dennis Bergkamp scored the penalty, United could well have lost momentum in the league.
Keane’s lunge on Overmars saw United up against it and of course, Vieria’s lazy cross field ball gave Giggs the opportunity to run at the backline.
Giggs spoke after the game saying that he was having a bit of a stinker and kept giving the ball away, so he decided to run with it. Good thing he did!
2) How do you feel about the Louis Van Gaal regime?
I like Louis van Gaal, but his style of football can be slow at times. I felt at the start if the season we didn’t a top class centre half – which I still do and hopefully this will be rectified in the summer.
All United fans want to see open attacking football with two wingers – either in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, but must be patient as van Gaal continues the transition. Sir Alex Ferguson was always going to leave a gaping hole – and fans need to give can Gaal time.
3) What do you think is more important, an FA Cup win or a top four finish?
Would love to win the FA Cup as 2004 was the last time United won the trophy. We were very close in retaining it the following season, but of course – Arsenal won a ridiculously one dudes final on penalties.
But, if it was one or the other – United have to in the Champions League. So I’d opted for a top four finish.
4) What is your opinion on Di Maria and why do you think it’s failed to work out so far?
Absolutely gutted. He is a world class player and got off to a impressive start at Old Trafford but really doesn’t appear to be at the races some games.
He didn’t want to leave Madrid, hence the open letter post leaving, which is understandable considering he was man of the match in the Champions League final.
I’d still play him out wide, but I think the problems lie a little deeper. I do hope he turns it around as he is a fantastic player.
5) LVGs system seems to draw quite a lot of flak. How do you feel about it?
The football can be mundane and boring, but like I said previously – I still think he is building towards something. I’d like to see him play 4-3-3 a little more, as he did at Barca and Bayern, but United do not have the players at present.
I believe there will be a few ins and outs again this summer, with hopefully some quality out wide and at the back brought in.
6) Who have been United’s stand out players this season?
David De Gea. 100%. He has been amazing and I’m sure Madrid will come calling. The Valdes sighing worried me if I’m honest. De Gea has saved United numerous times so far this season.
Sounds odd, but Ashley Young has had a good season under van Gaal.
7) What three key things do United need to do to return to the top?
1) Transfer clear out (in & out)
2) Adventurous football
3) Keeping David De Gea
8) If you could sign three players, who would they be and why?
Trying to be realistic.
Mats Hummels – class centre half who is a leader.
Memphis Depay- looks a decent winger.
Gareth Bale – well, rumours won’t go away and after last summer’s barmy spending, why not!?
9) Do you feel the golden generation of players being so heavily represented in the media is a problem?
No, not really. Superstars have always existed and there are players that get more press than others, but it doesn’t bother me.
10) How do you see this evening playing out?
Who knows anymore! I’ll go for a tight 2-1 United win, with Di Maria hitting the winner!