Apologies for a lack of a post yesterday, I had a presentation in Ohio. Did I see Le Bron? No. Did I have authentic BBQ. Yes. Did it immediately punish my pathetic European disposition? Absolutely. Before the meeting. During. After. If you are English, don’t mess around with local food before a work meeting. You can’t handle the hot sauce. You can’t handle rich slow cooked food. You can’t eat your weight in meat like American’s.
Know your place.
That’s the challenge we’re going to have to deal with today, breaking the Jose hoodoo when it matters. Manchester United are managed by a moment spoiler as potent as a fart in a job interview. Jose knows how to beat Wenger. The only two times in 427 years (17 meetings) Wenger has managed to out think the nasty man from Portugal was in a Community Shield non-event / at a point the United manager had decided the easiest way to land CL Q was winning the Europa League.
It doesn’t look good for tomorrow.
United are in 2nd, grinding out results in grim fashion. However, it has to be noted, they’ve scored 4 more than us and conceded 8 less.
Arsenal are on a run that has our forgetful fanbase dreaming above their station. 7 wins in 7 at home. We’re closing in on 2nd place in the PL (4 points). We sit in 4th which is our preferred coma zone. Aaron Ramsey has his hamstrings in one piece. Mesut Ozil is playing like a hero. The defence is solid. Petr Cech is stopping shots.
What could possibly go wrong?
The same wrongs that happen every season.
I don’t want to burst any bubble’s here, but the ridiculous commentary around Mesut this last week is so very Arsenal. It’s different planet levels of OTT. He’s not doing anything he doesn’t normally do. He’s creating chances, he’s had one impressive game against a Spurs team he wouldn’t normally perform against, he destroyed Huddersfield after taking 11 days off after a very iffy ‘illness’ that nearly cost us a Burnley result, outside that he’s par the course. Turning it on in the first half of the season is EXACTLY the format of his whole career. Second half, he disappears. Standard.
Let’s see how good Mesut is against a Mourinho who knows the German’s character. A match he’ll likely be a marked man. I’ll start thinking he’s the real deal when he drops a monster game against a team that targets his character. We’re always looking for the moment he turns into a player fit for the league. I’m not talking about chalking up quarterback stats, I’m talking about showing he can function across all the areas you need from an elite modern midfielder. I’d love to come out of this game apologising, but my unfashionable opinion on Mesut has been on the money for his whole career here.
It’s not because I’m uncultured, it’s because he doesn’t often deliver for Arsenal when it matters. It’s hard to excuse my view as a misunderstanding, because every man and their dog seemed pretty keen to point out Mesut delivered against Spurs, notably, because he did all the things you’re supposed to do in 2017.
Same for Aaron Ramsey, another player Arsenal fans are far too keen to give a pass. Let’s see how good his stats are against a nasty team. Let’s see how he dominates if we go 1-0 down against United. I’m very interested to see if his discipline can deal with a shock to the system. Can he keep his focus for 90minutes? He’s 27 in 3 weeks, we can’t keep holding out for xG potential. We need a big, dominant, nasty performance out there. He needs to go from good to great. He needs to control the game and make it all about his maturing game. I have more faith in him than Mesut, but the reality is, we need both delivering.
Can our defence handle a bully of a striker? Can they deal with the sublime talents of Paul Pogba? Can it stand up to the onslaught of a scuzzy Jose plan? I mean, I’m talking about the midfield as well, because there’s no doubt the meekness of Xhaka will be targetted.
As impressed as I’ve been with Arsenal over the last couple of months, we’re still in 4th, 12 points off City. We’ve done very little to show we’re a more potent side this year. This time last year, we were all calling Mustafi the new Baresi and the missing link. We were about to line up against Everton and City. We know how that turned out. This time, it’s United at home. Can we shape the narrative to be more positive? No CL. One problematic injury. No excuse.
That’s what we’ll find out today.
Mourinho is gunning for us. He’ll have a plan, and it’ll be grim. Can we counter it?
Over to you Wenger. Prove there’s something different about this season and bring home something more than a draw. Make us believe there’s one last hurrah…
See you on the other side.