A late Saturday kick-off against Manchester United at the home of football is always an exciting prospect. Even though both teams are currently in UEFA cup positions on the league table, this game still means a hell of a lot. A win for either team will boost morale and can set off a winning run of games – so desperately needed at the moment.
It is hard to predict this one, as both teams have heavy weapons in attack but dodgy defences. The fear of losing might weigh more than the desire to win, which might lead to a (subconscious) acceptance of a draw. A win for Arsenal would only be a second one in 15 encounters, and nobody should expect it to be easy. The good thing is that we are for once playing at home when these teams meet for the first team in a football season – usually we play them at the theatre of nightmares after an international break or a tough CL match, resulting in us playing below par and leaving all three points in the Manure.
So, here is our chance to make a statement. To say our PL season is not over at all, that we are willing and capable to fight…. And that we can now beat so called Angstgegners. And let there be no doubt about it: Manchester United has had the psychological advantage over us for a long time now.
Wenger will need to show he has fixed the softness in our defence: not easy with the players available, but they are his players so he should show us what he is capable of. Upfront he now has Giroud back, but Theo has had a little setback apparently…. Sigh. Regular readers know I rate Giroud significantly higher as our holding CF than Danny, but I guess the Frenchie will start on the bench for this one. An ideal line up for today would be OG central with Alexis and Danny operating from the wings, and hopefully we will see this at some point (at least).
The biggest worry I have is who we will put between the defence and attack. Jack is a given: we need his skills and personality, and for him this will be a very big game: the sort of game with which he can announce himself onto the big stage (at least for this season). I reckon Arsene will go for experience and solidity, and with both Flamini and Arteta available, it would make sense to play them both in front of the defence. Wenger might opt for Ramsey instead of Flamini or the captain, but Aaron really needs to step up his game if we are to win today.
I expect Jack to play in the hole and to be targeted constantly by the MU players. Everybody knows that Jack on the ball in space means danger and that’s why he gets fouled so much: simple team tactics rather than the popular belief that our genius is often too ponderous on the ball (which he seldom is).
Behind Jack, I am going to go for Arteta and Ramsey. Ramsey, because Wenger believes the Welshman will hit form again and the best impetus for this to happen is giving him plenty of confidence…. Wenger is a Y-manager and not an X-manager after all, for those who know what I am talking about. Arteta is our most composed and organised midfielder for the deeper role, and when in form he can still pull it off. We all know that we need to strengthen in this area, but for today’s match it is Arteta rather than Flamini for me. What Wenger will do re the double pivot remains a question though: will he go for compact…. FlamTeta… will he go for more linkage between defence and attack… RamTeta…or will he go all futuristic……RamShere in the pivot? You tell me!
Louis van Gaal, or the flat-faced Dutchie as some like to call him, will prepare for this well tactically. He will be looking at pouncing on our obvious ‘lesser strengths’: RB, DM cover and CBs, and at eliminating our strengths: Jack and Alexis. But he also has to cover up his weaknesses in defence and will pray his attackers earn their weekly wages back for once. We might see him start with 5-3-2 with the hope that he can steel a goal from us on the counter… or he might go full on attack…. I have not got much of a clue to be honest.
I know some, especially the ‘Gold Fingers movement’ (D-Money, Steve and James Bond 🙂 ), will want us to go full on attack with the aim to simply score more than we concede tonight. But I like us to be as solid as possible and to play this game maturely and effectively. We need patience and self-belief: play tactically strong and disciplined, as only then will we have a realistic chance of taking all three points of the Mancs. Can we do it? Big question, but I think today we will come good.
Nacho – BFG – Chambers – Gibbs
Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners – Let the Canon Roar!
Written by: TotalArsenal.