Arsenal vs United Is A Toothless Fixture
Match Preview – Arsenal vs Manchester United – Premier League – 22.11.14
I’m lucky to have tickets to today’s match and in the Premier League this is probably the biggest match I’ve seen at our new stadium. Having moved to Bristol not long after we moved into the Emirates I’ve not had as many opportunities to get down for a match and because of TV scheduling it has been rare that a match I have been able to attend has been a category A.
You can’t replicate the buzz of a big match watching from home or the pub – which until recently was my default option – but I’m not expecting the sort of buzz generated like when we played Spurs or Bayern at home in the past few seasons. The excitement surrounding this match seems somewhat muted and I’m not even at the stadium yet.
This fixture has lost some of its past sheen which is to be expected considering the gap between the team for many years and then United’s tumble down the table last season as well as their capricious form this season. Despite the rivalries between Arsenal and other London clubs, Spurs topping the list, and Manchester United vs Liverpool and possibly City whose rivalry with United often paled to United’s with Liverpool, they never used to match up to Arsenal vs Manchester United. They didn’t come any bigger because it was often number 1 versus number 2. That’s not the case any more. These matches used to have bite. Now they’re often quite toothless.
This is a fixture to get excited about because both teams have spectacular attacking players and both are struggling defensively. On paper, it should be a high octane match with plenty of goals. From a neutral point of view, and for the TV company, it’s a prospect to lick your lips at but for both sets of fans it’s a cause for worry. We all know we have the attacking talent to damage the other team but we’re hyper aware of their ability to do the same to our fragile defences. It’s made us all nervy – Arsenal and United fans alike.
The question today is who will damage the other team the most? Who will be Rocky and who will be Apollo. It’s going to be a punch for punch game and it’s likely both teams are going to have everything they’ve got laid out on the pitch but who will get up before the count reaches 10? That’s the worry for us all. It’s impossible to call objectively although many pundits have Arsenal as winners.
There’s not much between the teams this season – just a point in fact – and the story of the match is oldboy versus oldboy and South American versus South American. Who will leave their old club with a bitter taste in their mouth? Welbeck or van Persie? Will Alexis reign supreme or will Di Maria take the plaudits? They’re quite different battles from the days of old. League winning manager versus league winning manager. Vieira versus Keane. Everybody versus van Nistlerooy.
It’s a fair split for me. Welbeck will be motivated to prove Louis van Gaal wrong but he still has a strong emotional attachment to United. They didn’t let him go, van Gaal did. The fans still have affection for him whereas there is no love lost between van Persie and the Arsenal faithful. He’ll be motivated out of spite and I think that has the edged over Welbeck’s tinged motivation.
Alexis has the home advantage over Di Maria and also has the better stats so in the battle of the South American’s he probably wins.
Neither team are sparkling at the moment but with a battle for fourth looming both will be motivated for a win. I expect an exciting match but as I’ve paid the best part of £100 to go to the game I’m pretty sure it’ll be a boring draw.
Arsenal from; Szczesny, Martinez, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Chambers, Monreal, Bellerin, Flamini, Rosicky, Arteta, Wilshere, Chamberlain, Ramsey, Alexis, Cazorla, Giroud, Podolski, Sanogo, Welbeck, Campbell.
Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Ramsey, Flamini, Cazorla, Chamberlain, Welbeck, Alexis
I expect to see substitute appearances from Wilshere, Giroud and Arteta
“At the moment we are really spot on for 60 minutes and we cannot afford to lose our heads again, we have to be consistent over 90 minutes and we need to get that in our mind.” – Per Mertesacker
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 0-0 Man U (12.02.2014)
- Man U 1-0 Arsenal (10.11.2013)
- Arsenal 1-1 Man U (28.04.2013)
Arsenal Last 5
United Last 5
United are suffering from an injury crisis of their own and have had to rotate a lot at the back this season. They scored quite a few goals but they’ve conceded a lot too. Louis van Gaal has stated he isn’t sure what his best team or formation is yet and in late November that can’t be a good thing for United. Robin van Persie has struggled to hit the heights of previous seasons and with Falcao injured the attacking responsibility has fallen mainly to Rooney and Di Maria who have been, so far, well up to the task. United have struggled away from Old Trafford and are yet to win an away game in the league this season. Arsenal, meanwhile, are unbeaten at home in over a season in the league. However, United have history in breaking our streaks…
- Welbeck and van Persie have 7 goals in 8 games between them in this fixture. Most coming for United
- Arsenal have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team this season
- Arsenal haven’t beaten United when Mike Dean has been referee (4 games) however boast a better record under Dean than United do in the last 10 games he has officiated for either side
- Alexis has 12 goals in his 14 appearances for Arsenal
- Arsenal haven’t lost at home in 25 league games and United are yet to win an away game this season
- United have only lost to Arsenal once in their last 14 matches
United can be got at and they know it so have been answering the only way they can with the players they have – all out attack. This could either work in Arsenal’s favour or could knock the stuffing out of us. If I was watching at home I just know it would have been a goalfest that I would have regretted not watching in person. I’m yet to suffer a competitive defeat whilst watching Arsenal at the Emirates so fingers crossed that continues today. I don’t want to tempt fate but I think Arsenal will take this with a flattering scoreline. 3-1 to Arsenal with two late goals from Alexis and Giroud with Welbeck scoring the opener before a Rooney equaliser.
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