Alexis Sanchez One Goal Away From Equalling Henry’s Record
Match Preview – Manchester United vs Arsenal – Premier League – 17.05.15
Arsenal don’t need to win this one to ensure automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League and condemn United to a draining qualification double-header but it would be incredible if they can.
Old Trafford has been one of Arsenal’s most hated hunting grounds of the last 9 years with zero league wins since an Adebayor winner in 2006.
Winning at Old Trafford to take an automatic qualification place and force them into the play-offs is no where near the historic league win in 2002 but it would rank highly in significance.
Manchester United are a hard team to beat even when they are shocking, especially for Arsenal. I think this is our biggest game of the season. So much of next season will be built upon the foundations of this season and one of the cornerstones could be this match.
Defeating United at their own ground, and taking something from them in the process, is the sort of mental victory you can get few places else. It helps to eradicate the memory of that horrendous 8-2 drubbing and puts Arsenal in prime position to make a true go of it next year.
We can go into next season with a full summer of rest and pre-season behind us without the difficulties of international tournaments for the majority of players and without the need to grind out a result in European qualifiers. We simply cannot underestimate how much that has hindered us in the past and especially this season.
Arsenal still have their work cut out but injury news from the Manchester United camp could work in our favour but before I get onto that I want to let you know about some competitions being run on the Dohyo Premier League predictions app for iOS.
Dohyo is a superb app to put your prediction abilities to the test and there are prizes up for grabs for the various league winners including an Invincibles print, a copy of FM2015 and an iPad Mini so download the app and get involved.
Louis van Gaal will not be able to call on Rooney, Carrick and Shaw who have been ruled out and has a late fitness test planned for Evans. Di Maria, Rojo and van Persie are available again and in the case of the latter that could really work for Arsenal.
Without wishing to tempt fate, van Persie looks to be a spent force. I am sure he sometimes looks at Arsenal and kicks himself for forcing his way out but ultimately it was best for all concerned and having seen the start of his deterioration I am delighted we don’t have to accommodate him in our squad.
Robin van Persie starting against Arsenal could hand us the balance of power as Coquelin should continue to strangle opposition midfields and Koscielny has more than enough pace to reduce van Persie to a passenger.
It will be interesting to see what Wenger does as this game is screaming out for a direct approach and with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Welbeck ruled out the obvious option would be Walcott but there seems to be some hesitancy in playing him wide when Bellerin is occupying the right back space.
Walcott’s incredible pace, movement and finishing brings results when the balance in the team is right. He is the sort of player you encourage to neglect defensive duties because in a split-second he can participate in a devastating attack. I’m not convinced Bellerin is experienced enough to negate the space Walcott leaves behind him.
In normal circumstances I would fancy Walcott for a start and believe he could cause United’s defence a lot of problems – especially with the prospect of him finally linking up properly with Özil – but I think we may just see the same line-up for the 6th game on the trot and that concerns me.
Man for man I think Arsenal are far superior to United but they are at home and against teams that flood the midfield like United will this line-up has struggled to score goals.
Arsenal from; Ospina, Szczesny, Debuchy, Bellerin, Gibbs, Monreal, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Koscielny, Chambers, Rosicky, Wilshere, Flamini, Coquelin, Özil, Ramsey, Alexis, Cazorla, Walcott, Giroud.
Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Özil, Ramsey, Alexis, Cazorla, Giroud
I expect to see substitute appearances from Wilshere, Gibbs and Gabriel.
“We feel we have made progress, but we have a good opportunity to show that on Sunday because in every game that is questioned” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Man United 1-2 Arsenal (09.03.2015)
- Arsenal 1-2 Man United (22.11.2014)
- Arsenal 0-0 Man United (12.02.2014)
Arsenal Last 5
United Last 5
A lucky escape against Crystal Palace ensured United did not suffer 4 defeats on the trot. This is a team still lacking in cohesion and now without some of their most consistent performers. United are there for the taking but no matter the personnel this club can be quite the cockroach – refusing to lay down and die whilst everything crumbles around them.
It is admirable in a way but infuriating as hell when you are trying to beat them.
As in November, the player who is most dangerous to Arsenal is David De Gea. He cannot make Arsenal lose but he can sure as hell stop them from winning. He has become one of the best goalkeepers in the world and Arsenal will have to clinical to get past him.
Wayward finishing or sloppy shots aimed straight at the keeper like against Swansea could be a death knell for Arsenal in this match.
United has a soft underbelly and we have the weapons in our armoury to slice them open, the biggest test will be cracking their strongest shield in De Gea.
- Arsenal have only won one of the last 12 league matches between these sides
- United last lost at home to Arsenal in the league in September 2006
- Arsenal’s last five wins against United in the league have all been one-nil
- United have only scored twice in their last four league matches
- Arsenal have won their last 5 away league matches
- If Arsenal win this would only be their second away victory this season against the big teams
- Arsenal have scored in every away game since Southampton kept a clean sheet against them on New Year’s Day
- Alexis needs just one more league goal to equal Henry’s Premier League record of 17 goals in his debut season
I think this will be quite tight until the first goal goes in. I fancy Arsenal for a 2-0 win here.
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