Well, today is huge. Everton were beaten by Newcastle giving Arsenal the opportunity to go level points with them AND Spurs in the table. Both teams have a game in hand, but let’s be clear, some sections of the Arsenal fanbase have been purring over both managers, dreaming of the alternative reality where we’d hired them. I’m not sure the extra £12m a year looks like good value at the moment.
Today is one of the dreamy opportunities to close that gap when those around us are flapping around like a seagull trapped in a Pot Noodle container. Having to do that against a team that has the attacking options of United is going to be tough. Today is basically our very good defence versus their very good attack.
The main difference between the sides since the last time we met is that Arsenal has found a bit of a formula when it comes to attack. Since the emergence of ESR in the side, we’ve gone from creating 10 shots a game to 16. That’s quite the jump. Outside the shots output, we’ve just looked more cohesive in general. We can play some nice football at times, especially when the runners are on the pitch.
Many eyes will be focused on the left side of midfield. Nicolas Pepe had a good game by his standards in the week, scoring a vital goal against a good team. Martinelli sat the 90 out on the bench. There are many that think you should play the expensive signing who has found something resembling form… my view would be to give the best player the minutes. That would be Martinelli.
I feel for Pepe, I really did, but how many false dawns can one man be given? The first half of our season was dedicated to the hope that certain players would come good. I’d rather go on meritocracy. Pepe scored a nice goal, yes, but he also switched off and failed to track his man for the first goal. That sort of lapse will cost us harder if it happens today. It’s a big call. I will happily eat humble pie if he plays and scores… but for United, I’d love to see ESR, Saka, Martinelli and Lacazette conjuring magic.
Defence is also a tough one. Pablo Mari is out and Kieran Tierney seems to be running into trouble again. Cedric was excellent in our last game, but it’s a huge ask to play out of position against United. Not that we have much of a choice. There are also big questions over who partners Rob Holding… David Luiz? Or do we bring Gabriel back into the mixer?
Midfield is likely going to be Thomas Partey… but will they roll with Big Mo to hunt down the United firestarters, or will they opt for Granit Xhaka who has found some nice form next to a better midfielder who shares the workload?
Also tantalising that Martin O is in the squad.
I’m feeling excited about the game. These are the moments that have to matter. We need a tactical masterclass. There has to be a result if we’re serious about European places this season. Win and we go 4 points from 4th, lose, and it’s going to be a long week.
Before we go, can we have a chat about Edu? He is a DISGRACE for trying to move on Mustafi. This is what we all feared. Our powerhouse defender is rumoured to be off to Liverpool. For any of their fans leaving. He’s a machine. Great in the air, elite levels of concentration, a player so dedicated to the clean sheet he cries when he concedes in training. I’ll be reeeeeally miffed if we let him go. Perhaps you should tweet that he’d be a good signing? Pull it over the line?
On that note, see you in the comments… and watch my Youtube appearance.