Arsenal — Manchester United (Premier League)
Arsenal versus Manchester United is bound to be the highlight of a Premier League mid-week action. Both sides come from lousy results that left their respective managers on the verge of a nervous break-down. Wednesday night, at the Emirates we’ll see if all the but-kicking and yelling worked. Who will show the best reaction?
It’s that moment of the season for the Gunners. Everyone was expecting that breaking point when they would stutter to a halt. It took them long enough to live to the expectations. Not to minimize in any way Liverpool’s overwhelming performance, Arsenal was just dreadful on the pitch on Saturday. The 5-1 was nothing, it could have been even more comprehensive. It’s also that “I told you so” moment, bringing back the label Arsène Wenger earned during his reign at the Emirates: they are mentally week, they lake the stamina and drive of winners. It’s true they were missing a couple of key-players. Aaron Ramsey has been instrumental in the first 20 games of the season. Flamini was a major casualty too, when you travel to a place like Anfield you need all your solid players in. Having said that they were too bad for excuses. The number of passes going astray was appalling and there’s element to give Wenger pause. Arsenal has not conceded that many goals but 43% of the ones they did came from set-pieces. And then there’s the zonal marking. Mertesaker and Koscielny have made quite decent matches but the truth is they usually don’t have to deal with such attack waves, again and again. The way Arsenal usually move the ball in midfield prevents it from going forward, it’s as simple as that. It didn’t happen at Anfield, though, and it should be a surprise. Against Southampton they deserved to be down by 3 or 4 before the first-half even ended. They were lucky and salvaged an undeserving stalemate.
It’s easy and natural to blame Ozil and his lack of pace for the decay of the squad but what about that transfer window business? It’s that arrogant ridiculous scene with Suárez in the summer all over again, the +1 thing. They want us to believe they couldn’t find anybody else available that was better than Bentner? Your only signing is a guy with a broken back? Money wasn’t the problem. This type of decisions resonate in the squad too and we have all seen how they respond in the field.
A note on Jack Wilshere, to be fair he was the only Gunner showing determination last weekend. He was still returning from injury and there was not much he could do all alone. At times his frustration took the better of him but at least he fought.
Flamini will be serving his last game ban. Ramsey, Vermaelen and Kallstrom are ruled out.
Probable line-up: Szczesny — Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs — Arteta, Wilshire — Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla — Giroud.
I think when a Premier League manager says he has no idea why his side could not win a game that speaks volumes. He is clearly way over his head and that admission of impotence, of being clueless, alone should show him the door. But this is Manchester United and we all know that is not going to happen. Almost everything has been said about United’s huge issues that preceded David Moyes, in a sence he was put in the middle of a perfect storm. But he surely did nothing to help his cause. United made 81 crosses against Fulham. To call them tactically inflexible in an understatement. That was not a team, they were a group of players trying anxiously to net. They didn’t know their own roles on the field and had no idea other than to go to the line and cross. You can blame the players, they are certainly better than that. But this are tactical decisions, managerial ones that are simply not working. And what is the point of bringing in a 37 million player and instruct them to play against his natural abilities and strengths?
The title is long gone and even fourth place is just a rhetorical discussion, the way Liverpool and even Everton or Tottenham are playing. Manchester united will have to fight to regain their dignity back, more than the points itself. But does David Moyes have what it takes to squeeze that from Rooney and the like to pull that off?
Probable line-up: De Gea — Rafael, Smalling, Vidic, Evra— Fletcher, Carrick — Mata, Rooney, Januzaj — Van Persie.
Arsenal hosting Manchester United is always a classic, even if it happens in a bad moment for both clubs. This are the games every footballers wants to take part of and Wayne Rooney has had exceptional good performances against the Gunners. It’s also Robbie van Persie’s return to his old home and wouldn’t it be amazing to see work their magic once again? Or will Mesut Ozil rise to the occasion?