Arsenal vs Manchester United isn’t the game it used to be, but for once, a game against the two clubs, in April, finally has something riding on it outside nostalgia.
Manchester United, according to 538, has a 1% chance of top4, but they are still a team of very good individuals, and Ronaldo will start and he’s obviously going to pull out a superhuman performance if he’s started after the absolutely horrendous crisis in his personal life. That could spark United so we have to be prepared that there’s a game on our hands.
Arsenal, according to the same 538 analysis now has a 51% chance of making it into the top 4.
Spurs and Arsenal, tracking on the same points, but Arsenal has a problematic goal difference. The reason I’m not concerned about that is the hope we can kick up a head of steam and make the game against them the decider.
Am I dreaming? If rather not speak…
United have had one more day rest than us. I also think it’s worth remembering that a total spanking and humiliation generally doesn’t mean the next game is going to be the same. I don’t know what the data is, but when a team gets hammered, they generally play a much more disciplined game the week after in a bid to rectify it. I’d rather play a team with three 1-0 losses on the bounce than go to a team licking wounds from a humiliation.
I’d also rather go into a home game after pulling off a miracle win no one saw coming with a beaten-up squad.
Arteta has to keep the adrenaline firing. He has to have the top 4 bonus pinned to the wall. If top 4 were a person in an office, we’d be so close, it’d be an HR complaint. Beat United, in front of the home fans, and we’ll be in really sexy form heading into a West Ham game you’d have to imagine David Moyes will not really be interested in.
Lose… and we’ll have to listen to all the whingers again and it’ll be a coin toss of a race until the end of the season.
This is a big game.
If we play the way we did against Chelsea, we’ll win, it’s as simple as that.
Things I’m looking for?
We really need to sharpen at the back. Ben White needs to find his swagger, he’s been in rough form. Aaron Ramsdale needs to get his confidence back, I don’t like seeing him punching balls and pushing shots into dangerous areas, because I have seen him at peak, and peak Aaron is a force of nature. Tomiyasu might be back in the mixer if training goes well today, I’d have him at right-back. I have to be honest, I would rather have Bukayo as a left-wingback against the United forward line, Tavares is still very green, and Bukayo is just a far more accomplished player for a game of this magnitude.
The big thing? We need to be ruthless with our chances. We scored 4 goals from 4 shots on target against Chelsea. If we’re going to beat United, we have to find our finishing boots. An in-form Eddie gives me confidence we have someone who will 1) get into dangerous positions 2) finish a half chance. The great thing about Eddie is he’s played so little, it’s very hard to prepare for him.
The most important people in that ground are the home fans. They’ve been fucking magnificent this season. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what is missing with a certain type of very online fan and I think it’s the lack of understanding around proper fan culture. Someone told me yesterday, on my own site, that they wanted a truce on shitting on Arsenal… if we beat United. This is the day after beating the European Champions.
Firstly, supporting a club can’t be predicated on winning every game. Secondly, that sort of rhetoric is shaken out of you at a young age in England. Criticise the club, have a pop at players, protest, scream in your car on the internet after a loss… but when it comes to winning games, if your first thought is how you can degrade it or minimize its impact… you are doing it wrong. Jurgen Klopp said the after the semi with Benfica, ‘if I can’t be happy after a win, what is the point?’.
Part of it comes from a generation of fans who watch youtube videos from standards merchants. They think that getting excited about a win or the chase for top 4 means you aren’t elite. It’s a badge of honor to put themselves above the above joy of every other Arsenal fan. It’s not. People that behave like that, more often than not, have no standards in their own personal lives and it’s just a projection… the equivalent of a celeb standing next to a private jet, only to get on a Ryanair flight.
The best foreign fans get the culture, they work hard to be a part of it, they are often crazier than the home fans. Pop down to O’Hanolons in New York if you want to see that in action. When I moved away, the thing I missed the most was the shared misery of being in the stadium with 60,000 others that were feeling the same. So when you see people trying to create shared misery after wins, it rankles. The home fans this season get it, they know the squad is young, they see something special is brewing. That atmosphere that has been created this season home and away has been worth 10 points, it’s magic, it’s just a shame that some people are so desperate to seem important, they can’t even enjoy a win. Why bother?
Let’s hope there’s a massive response. We’re in the mixer. We need to be after tomorrow. The only way that happens is if the team shows up and the fans do the same.
I CANNOT WAIT.
P.S. Watch our podcast. We had the biggest 24hrs we’ve ever had post-Chelsea game. It is AMAZING that more people tune in after a win.