Absolutely huge game today. Two fallen giants of the game trying desperately to claw back some sort of relevance for their fans.
United struggle for goals, the football is dull, and their expensive defensive unit is still flawed.
Arsenal has a great squad of players, but they’ve struggled to establish an identity, the defence has been equally poor, and our attacking play has generally been reliant on the brilliance of one man.
Today sadly isn’t a battle for the league title, it’s a battle to establish an advantage in the race for top 6. Emery saw some light in the last two games, notably both when Xhaka wasn’t on the pitch. The come back against Villa was valiant and the Forest destruction pointed to an attacking style that would look sexy if we could rock it against better teams.
The game for us tonight is all about midfield. If Emery can’t suss optimum working conditions for his precious new general, it’s going to be difficult. United will attempt to pressure our midfield and hope it crumbles. I hope Emery has given them some help, we need to see a structure, I can’t watch another game where everyone goes missing up the other end, or worse, watch everyone drops into the defence leaving us exposed for shots and whatever else comes our way. United might be shit, but they have good pressing numbers this season. We need to be on high alert. We need to see real leadership, not this soft kind the media keep talking about.
’Xhaka always remembers the boys birthdays, he’s religious about getting a card signed’
The Swiss master of the spare key will sit at the base of midfield, no point in arguing that, the question is who with? If it’s on his own with a combination of Matteo and Ceballos, we could be in trouble. The Spaniard is an exciting talent, but let’s be honest, he hasn’t bypassed the bedding in stage most players deal with. We need athleticism on the pitch though, and I think the manager might have to go against his intuition and reinstate LT in his natural position as the lead DM (laughable I have to write that), or gun for something inexperienced but industrious like opt for Willock and Matteo.
Tactically, we have been greatly hampered by the captain’s armband, there’s no doubt about that.
I’d also not be surprised to see Emery play 3 at the back, fear is his default perspective, and I see no reason for him to change that approach in a big game. What I will say is that Emery does get the players up for the big games. Even when we lose, it’s not often insipid. Though the Chelsea final really did do a lot of damage to that perception.
Key to our day is usually centered around how well we bring Auba into the game. He’ll have the chance to get in behind Maguire who hasn’t looked great. I think we’ll be able to spring chances all day. West Ham created with relative ease when I watched them the other day, the game would probably be ripe for some Ozil deadliness around the box if we get pushed into possession play in their 3rd. I would also be very happy to see Saka given a go. He’s a surprise package, he’s annoying to defend against and he’s basically the new Dembele. We need some of his fearless decision making, it could be vital today. I ALSO HEAR HE STARTS!
I’d also like to see an open play goal from Pepe, it’s time.
There are other delightful elements, Pogba, Martial and Rashford are all likely to miss the game. Say what you will about them over a season, Arsenal normally make them look world-class and United are weaker without them. That said, we’re all expecting a worldie from De Gea and a blistering first big game start from Greenwood.
Huge day for both sides, let’s hope the game achieves something that looks like the years gone by.
See you in the comments.