United’s Luck Will Run Out Against Arsenal
Match Preview – Manchester United vs Arsenal – FA Cup – 09.03.15
This season may not have gone the way we had hoped at the start but there has been huge progress at Arsenal in the past two seasons, arguably the biggest being our win over Manchester City. I would say the FA Cup win was a bigger deal but it’s been a surprise how quickly people have forgotten we are trophy holders when there is something to complain about.
The win over Manchester City was a watershed moment because we comprehensively out-performed and beat a top team and we did it on their ground. Winning that match gave Arsenal confidence to put together the second best run of form in the league which has propelled Arsenal to 3rd with a real chance of snatching 2nd.
This FA Cup quarter final has the same watershed quality. United are not the giants they once were but they are a huge threat to Arsenal’s sometimes brittle confidence. They beat us when their performance gives them little right to and that is hard for the team to swallow.
Beating Manchester United in a match of such importance, at their ground no less, would be a huge leap forward for a team often questioned on their winning mentality.
Louis van Gaal and his team have been incredibly lucky this season. They’ve been dire yet they still find themselves in the top 4 and in an FA Cup quarter final. In the past few seasons United have scraped lucky wins against Arsenal through individual mistakes or fortunate goals but I think their luck has run out.
Arsenal are in good form in the league, Özil is racking up the assists, Giroud is putting the goals away, Alexis is back amongst the goals after a 7 game drought and Coquelin is growing in stature in every game as Arsenal’s defensive shield.
Manchester United may have home advantage but Arsenal have the better players and the better form. Arsenal’s only weakness against United is their own mentality but since we lost to United in November we have thrown the “big away game” monkey off our back.
United have been scraping points whilst looking unconvincing for a while now; fortune shone in their favour against Newcastle with a late spill from Krul, De Gea was their man of the match against West Ham which allowed them to score a highly undeserved equaliser in the last minute of the match, they were just as poor and uncreative against Stoke who deserved more than a point with a denied penalty shout and Crouch hitting the woodwork.
Against a team like Arsenal this lack of creativity and shambolic defensive organisation will be punished and now they have lost their best defender to a 6 match ban. Their league position flatters to deceive and with Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea sandwiching Villa in their next five games they will be quickly found out and the table will reflect how poor they have been.
Arsenal have nothing to fear from United if they believe in themselves and maintain their concentration.
Arsenal from; Szczesny, Ospina, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Chambers, Monreal, Bellerin, Coquelin, Rosicky, Özil, Walcott, Welbeck, Cazorla, Alexis, Giroud, Akpom.
Szczesny, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Özil, Cazorla, Welbeck, Alexis, Giroud
I expect to see substitute appearances from Rosicky, Chambers and Walcott.
“I know that if we want to qualify, we have to produce a strong performance” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Arsenal 1-2 Man U (22.11.2014)
- Arsenal 0-0 Man (12.02.2014)
- Man U 1-0 Arsenal (10.11.2013)
Arsenal Last 5
Man United Last 5
Six league wins on the trot before Christmas led to talk of a title challenge for United. That six game run included a 2-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates which I watched live and again on TV once I got home and already knew the result – they were bloody lucky. That has been a theme for United this season; luck.
Credit where it is due, they have scraped wins and draws where little was deserved because they kept going and pounced on errors made by their opposition. The table does not lie they say and so far they have been the 4th best team in the league but their next five league fixtures – in which they’ll miss Jonny Evans who was banned for spitting – will go some way to rectifying that. They’ve faced two rivals in a row once this season and came away with a point. They’ll be lucky to do so again in their next five games, Villa excluded. There’s that word again – lucky.
United have been severely lacking in creativity this season as they struggle to implement Van Gaal’s “philosophy” and that should be a worry for Arsenal. Manchester United will sit back against Arsenal, like in November, and wait for Arsenal to make a mistake so they can pounce on the counter. They do have some pace in the side and it would be criminal for Arsenal to overcommit in attack, especially their fullbacks.
- Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four FA Cup games against Arsenal
- Arsenal have scored at least two goals in eight of their last nine FA Cup matches
- Rooney has 11 goals against Arsenal in his career
- Arsenal have won the FA Cup the last two times they have beaten United in the competition
2-0 to Arsenal with Alexis and Giroud on the scoresheet.
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