Yes its that time of the year when the passions arise, memories get stretched,flashbacks are rerun all over and the banter gets louder by the minute. Yes its Arsenal United time.
Gone are the days when this used to be considered the game of the season, the clash of the contenders etc, the small matter of City and Chelsea have ensured that this battle now is fought in more amicable circumstances than animosity. United continue to be among the title contenders whereas the Gunners are now considered to be long shots.
Still considering all circumstances, nothing stokes the emotion of a gooner like this game and from a personal point of view,united will always be our eternal rivals, if someone says spurs, i can tell them, keep dreaming.
This game will have an edge for one big reason. The little kid who listened to his inner voice and chose united and ditched the team that stood by his inner, outer and what not voice most of which was heard on the medics table. Yes the Gunners will see him(cant take his name) line up against them. Lets have a look at the 2 teams shall we.
The season which began so brightly suddenly looks derailed with the Gunners being unable to kick off from the good start they had. The return of Jack Wilshere has set the pulses racing but how fit is he and how well can he kick off remains to be seen. Left back remains an issue and Santos is not the answer for it.
Podolski is due for a big game and the German needs to step up now. Santi Cazorla has been brilliant but last few games when squeezed by the opponents, he seems lost. His best position is still uncertain. Our captain needs to remember his defensive duties rather than go on marauding runs, for we don’t need him out of position against a rampant united attack. Arsenal need to target the united defense which in my opinion is weaker than Arsenal’s and for that to happen the wide positions need to be exploited. After his 3 goal heroics last night, Theo merits a start but can he do it again after having played a tumultuous 120 plus minutes, remains to be seen. Arsenal best chance to win this game is to play on the counter and attack at pace.
United even with the couple of losses have been excellent. The new attacking way of playing has been refreshing and to top it all, the attacking options are jelling like a dream. With the return of Valencia and Young, the wide areas are an even bigger threat for all specially Arsenal considering the fact that it was the wide men who hurt them the most last time when the 2 teams met at OT. The expected rift between Wayne and Van for the upfront role never materialized as both seem to be at ease the way it is now;Rooney has been terrific in the midfield and upfront for all his inner voice, van still has it in him to score goals and plenty of it.
United’s worry is defense, Evra is poor and whoever plays right full back for united seems to struggle. Ferdinand doesn’t convince anyone and whoever pairs up with him saturday, will have to be on their toes against the slick Gunners.
Arteta vs carrick-
The Spaniard has been excellent so far this season and holds the strings for the Gunners in the midfield. Carrick despite playing in various positions prefers the midfield and if he does get played there will be confronted by Mikel, this will be close but expect the Spaniard to win this duel.
Rooney vs Cazorla-
This will be the best one. The man with the magic feet versus the terrier which never goes away. Rooney has been terrific in the midfield and his awareness and doggedness makes him the toughest opponent Santi has been up against. Santi Cazorla though is a sheer genius, the man with twinkling feet along with juan mata has been the best midfielder on show in the premier league so far.This is to close to call and i feel the player who plays without refrain will win this one.
Valencia vs Arsenal left back
Valencia is probably the best crosser in the league. whoever plays in the game for the gunners, be it Santos or hopefully Gibbs, will find it extremely tough to handle the united right man.
Degea versus Mannonne
2 very good shot stoppers who aren’t as convincing when it comes to crosses. Its even stevens here as both will be hoping the other one is more busier.
Giroud versus Ferdinand
For some strange reason the Frenchman hasn’t been given the due credit he deserves for his exploits. He was not expected to replicate the one he replaced for he is his own man. Olivier has been excellent whenever played, he has been a willing trier, has been excellent aerially, link up play good and most importantly his defensive abilities not highlighted shows the bias a lot of people have against him. Rio has been chop change, he was actually good against chelsea when he was the one doubted. He may fancy himself against Giroud but can do it at his own peril.
Form and venue makes united favorites. Arsenal seem to play with hand brakes on everytime they visit OT, there is a strange sense of held back approach by the Gunners. The last time we won at OT was 2006 when a certain Adebayor scored in the 85th min for a 1-0 win. United will want to start quick and hit Arsenal with their pace and movement whereas the Gunners will do well to absorb the pressure and hit them on the counter. It may not be a scoreline like last time but expect a close encounter, who will win-brains say United, heart says Arsenal.
P.S- If the little boy scores, i want him to celebrate a la Adebayor, that should kindle emotions and release the hand brakes of my team. That could be his best contribution for the Gunners.
With a prayer and more so a belief that we can win