Manchester United v. Arsenal Preview & LiveBlogBy: Perry | November 2nd, 2012
As all too often is the case, I can’t stress how important tomorrow’s match is for us. We all know what we said last year when this match arrived and what the outcome was, so I’ll just let that be. This is not a case of deja vu, it’s sadly the reality of the situation we are in. There are clubs who we really want to be ahead of in the table by the day’s end, and there are clubs who we have a real opportunity to make up ground against. Tomorrow’s match in my eyes is at the very least a MUST DRAW, but as Gooners, we always play for the win. We are not bus parkers, we are not ball hoofers, we are talented, exciting group of players who can show their intent once again tomorrow. For the sake of the team’s confidence, a win away from home at Old Trafford could give us that injection of life to kick start a solid run of wins. There is no more belief that can be forged into our players’ minds than to know we beat the traitor at his new home ground; you’ve got to believe some of the players i.e. Verminator want that more than anything tomorrow.
For United, our ex-captain Robin van Persie will lead the line for the Red Devils and Rooney the Cabbage Patch Kid assuming a deeper role once again, with additional support from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young on the wings. Shinji Kagawa and Vidic are still out for United while Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are both nearing a return, with some pundits saying one or both could feature tomorrow. I have my doubts over both starting, so hopefully our team can take full advantage of a still weakened United defence.
We will have to cope without our top scorer in the league, Gervinho, after he injured his ankle in his substitute appearance against QPR last week, which likely means Wenger will stick with the team that forced a late win over QPR.
With Gibbs still out, Santos will continue at left-back, while Vito Mannone will start in goal as Wojo continues his rehab. If there was one area I’d say I’m extremely concerned about being exploited tomorrow, it’s that of back left. Santos has shown us nothing to put confidence in him this season, and you have to believe Fergie’s match plans are to exploit this very area. I really do hope Wenger really reinforces the importance of “staying put” to Santos tomorrow, otherwise we might be in for a long match.
Theo Walcott is pushing for a start after his Capital One Cup heroics against Reading, but it is more likely he will/could be used as a substitute after featuring for all 120 minutes midweek.
The guess for starters would be (will update before match start): Mannone; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos; Wilshere, Arteta; Cazorla, Ramsey, Podolski; Giroud
Honestly, I wish we had a more useful option than Ramsey as he’s shown us time again he’s not up to par for the “big” matches in the season, and all we can hope for is that he and Santos play to their roles, not getting too fancy, and just playing a fundamentally sound match in both roles. We’ve got plenty of other boys starting to round out the rest of our needs. Good news for us is that both Sagna and Wilshere are back to health and should start. Wilshere might be the ace in our pocket tomorrow, as I feel our midfield is superior to United, while their strike force is obviously superior to ours, so our defence is going to have to be exceptionally alert as United are averaging 3.25 goals a match right now (kind of alarming for us). Some other good news for us coming out of the midweek match, Arshavin looked lively as ever and Chamakh scored not one, but two goals! AMAZING! So if we’re in absolute need, we’ve got a super sub in Arshavin available to us and an additional “confident” striker ready to play.
If we play our game fundamentally sound, there is no reason why we cannot come out ahead. That’s a BIG IF, I know, but just as much as United is scoring their way to victory, they’ve come awfully close to losing matches had it not been for Van Peepee bailing them out (sound familiar?). If we can shut him down, we can make dreams happen.
Match starts at 8:45 AM EST and will air on various sources worldwide as you can expect. Locally, it will be ESPN2 for the American viewers.
The LiveBlog is pre-scheduled to start at 8:30 AM EST, so please come back then to begin chatting live. Until then, post your thoughts below. I sincerely hope our boys bring their A++ game tomorrow, nothing will feel sweeter than getting 3 points and beating the man we all loved and now hate so very much. COME ON YOU GUNNERS. SHOW YOUR INTENT!
Chat you all bright and early…