Friday, 7 November 2008

United v Arsenal - Preview

Usually I just launch straight into United's team news and what we have to do to win the game, but with another big four club we have to look at them first. Or, in this case, look and laugh - a huge injury list (Adebayor and Eboue definitely out; Walcott, Gallas, Sagna and Silvestre doubtful; van Persie suspended for his moronic hack on the Stoke keeper); no wins in three not very difficult games (Spurs, Stoke, Fenerbache); lots of rumblings from the interior; and even some calls for Arsene Wenger's head.

So it should be a cakewalk, right? Well, no. Arsenal-United games rarely have anything to do with the form book, or even injury lists. Remember Phil Neville and Seba Veron bossing a Vieira-led midfield at Highbury? A workmanlike United side ending the "Invincibles" unbeaten run with a dodgy penalty (well, ok, Rooney dived)? An Henry-less Arsenal turning us over at home, and then coming back from a goal down with ten minutes left to to win at Highbury, in the season where they'd have finished outside the top four but for some dodgy lasagne? If form and squad strength had anything to do with those games, they'd all have gone the other way.

We must take nothing for granted, but we need the three points. With late lapses of concentration turning four points into one against Liverpool (1-1 at 80 mins) and Chelsea (1-0 at 80 mins), we need to start doing well in the six-pointers. That means putting our foot on the gas, and keeping it there until Arsenal are out of sight - something we've struggled to do even against lesser teams this year.

Team news

Fletcher joins Wes Brown as a doubt for the game with a sore knee - that would be a loss, given Fletcher's form so far this season. Van der Sar will return in goal, with Neville fit enough to take over at right back - Rafael isn't up to this sort of game yet. Carrick will continue in central midfield, with Anderson joining him if Fletcher doesn't make it. Given it is away, I expect Park to take over from Nani on the left, with Rooney and Berbatov restored to the starting line up alongside Ronaldo.

Predicted team: EVDS; Evra, Vidic, Rio, Neville; Park, Anderson, Carrick, Ronaldo; Rooney, Berbatov.

Predicted scoreline: 3-1 to United (Berbatov, Ronaldo and Vidic(!))

5 comments:

Andrew, Esq. said...

I'm pulling for Rooney to make it a century of goals in this one. I'll go 2-1 to United, with he and Berba on the scoresheet (though it seems rash to leave off Ronaldo on current form).

It is a shame indeed to be missing Fletcher, because not only has his form commended his further inclusion in the starting XI, but he is consistently a big game man, as Fergie is wont to point out time after time. But I think Anderson and Carrick will be great, and I see a bit of the 'big-game player' in Anderson as well.

It is to our advantage, considering our odd defensive lapses of late, that Wenger's top strikers will be sampling the spectator seats in the Emirates. Fabregas and Nasri will likely present the challenges, but I don't see them troubling Carrick in front of Rio and Vidic.

I hope and pray that we absolutely take advantage of Arsenal's recent defensive ineptitude. Almunia has rarely looked more vulnerable. Let's strike hard and early and then - importantly - hold onto the lead.

slayer said...

good to have old penguin back! I'm not one for commenting but i do read many of your posts.

I feel nasri (more than fabregas) is going to arse-anals main threat - and keeping him quiet in midfield should be a priority for anderson and carrick.

i'd prefer to have hargo marshaling the midfield but still....we should win it!

Sam said...

I am absolutely gutted. What more can I say? What went wrong? My inital thoughts are that Ferguson made an error at halftime, when time and time again Gary was exposed for pace and postion, he should have put the superstar(well after that phenomenal performance) Rafael on. Nasri has pace, and was made to look far better than what he is by our very unkempt defence perfomance. I think we can be thankful that is was Nicholas 'I should NOT be a professional footballer' Bedtner on the field other than the classy RVP or the weed smoking Togan.

Our forwards looked like they need a viagra to get some life back. We were impotent in our final third. Rooney really should have finished the Park dummy and you would have bet your house that slave would have finished that chance that scraped the paint of the post or when he went through their entire defence.

To be honest I think arsenal outplayed us. Our midfield looked iffy. Park is an absaloute work horse who tried his heart out, as did Evra. Anderson and Carrick...don't really know what I think. They hasseled and were effective but they didn't dominate arsenal. How carrick got a yellow card is beyond me. Heres a suggestion...don't drop the ball fool.

Was Carlos Quierz really that important to our team?!

zzxxrrss said...

I think its time for Neville to retire to the substitutes bench. Yes he has the experience but not the pace anymore. Da silva should start every game.

slayer said...

I have to agree with zzxxrrss. Nasri ran so many circles round Neville it was almost embarrassing to watch.

Yes, he's experienced
Yes, he's our captain
...but fergie needs to let go.

Enough with the sentimentality - he needs to be benched and the armband needs to pass to Rio. Brown should be first choice (when fit) with Da Silva being gently eased in during "smaller" games.

After Anderson came off Arsenal strolled right through our midfield unchallenged.

Berbatov looked lost (off day I hope) and what really shocked me was his uncharacteristic inability to hold the ball. In one instance he attempted to control the ball in our box (instead of clearing it) and then promptly lost possession.

Playing away straight after the Wednesday game didn't help either.

Also, and maybe this is bias (but hey, i'm a united fan), but I though Arsenal looked "soft"; falling and diving like a bloody Olympic swimming team - if i'm not mistaken it was sagna's dive that earned the free kick that lead to the first goal.

We have a good game up next (Stoke) to get back to winning ways.

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