Manchester United – Arsenal PreviewBy: Lachlan | August 26th, 2011
I’ll admit that I’m a little bit nervous in writing this preview.
The first reason is that I haven’t watched Man Utd thus far this season, and so I hope I don’t miss any of the nuances of their game at the moment. The second is that my reputation is the “doom and gloom” blogger at this site, and it will be hard to avoid such talk in light of all of our injuries, suspensions, and blatant holes in the roster. To be perfectly honest, an Arsenal win in this match would stun me, and getting a point would be a large surprise as well. There, I said it, so now we can move on.
United is perhaps the team we know the most about, outside of Arsenal, of course. But they do have a bit of a new look this season. Last year, I looked at them as an old team trying to squeeze the last few ounces of goodness out of some of their old war horses. This year, they’re relying on the likes of Cleverly, Welbeck, Smalling, Phil Jones, and De Gea. And yet the beat goes on for them, with six points from their first two matches, including a 3-0 thumping of Spurs last week. They were without both Ferdinand and Vidic in that match, but plugged in a couple of younger defenders and still kept Spurs off the scoreboard. And of course they still have plenty of weapons, with Rooney, Berbatov, and Hernandez available up front, and Nani and Ashley Young supplying help from midfield.
I suppose if there’s a weak spot for United, it might be De Gea, who has come under a lot of criticism early in his stay in Manchester. Other than that, everything should point pretty well in their favor, it must be said. But we can at least take some solace in believing that our young goalie is far superior to theirs, despite De Gea’s £17.6 million transfer fee this summer.
In Arsenal news, it’s all pretty bleak at the moment. We’re without Song, Frimpong, and Gervinho through suspensions. Wilshere is still injured, Bendtner is awaiting a transfer, and all of our top four central defenders have injury concerns. According to the official website, it looks like Djourou will return, and I think Vermaelen should make it as well. I would expect Koscielny to remain out for this one, as well as Squillaci. Oh, and surprisingly, Gibbs is still injured as well. So the back line is really bare this week,
but at least Man Utd doesn’t really have any scoring threats, so that’s the good news.
Here’s my best guess as to a lineup, but I could be way off on this one, with all the holes we’re having to plug. And since we don’t even have one true defensive midfielder, I’m going to write it as though we’re playing more of a 4-1-4-1:
Jenkinson Djourou Vermaelen Sagna
Bench: Fabianski, Miquel, Traore, Chamakh, AOC, Miyaichi, Koscielny
I honestly had a hard time even filling out the bench with warm bodies. And if we need a spark off the bench, I’m not sure where it comes from. Either the first ever appearance for AOC or Miyaichi, or hopelessly out of form Chamakh. So it’s really up to the starters to get it done in this one.
Overall, I’m not really sure what else to say. I’m really just hoping to get past this one, pray something happens in the transfer window before it shuts, and then regroup during the interlull. A loss here puts us a full eight points back of Man Utd already, not to mention the possibility that we’d be eight back of Man City as well. A draw would feel like a huge moral victory, but we’d still have just two points from our first three, and would have a steep hill to climb starting in September.
I’m still sticking with my prediction that City will win the league this year, but United would still probably be considered the favorite. And I must confess, I really don’t like them. At all. I’ll even pull for Nasri and Man City to beat them if it comes to that. So even if a point doesn’t do a lot for us in the table, I would take a lot of joy from raining on their parade at Old Trafford a little bit.
Still, having said all that, did you know that we have a faithful reader who’s a huge Man Utd fan? I’ll give a little shout out to a guy named Don, who’s from Manchester, and who apparently loves reading my blogs. Every blog I write, I send it to my dad in prison in Mississippi. I think I’ve converted my dad into an Arsenal fan already, and he passes along my blogs to Don in the prison. It’s hard to read soccer blogs from prison in the U.S., so I guess I’m all Don has at the moment. Anyway, I hope we whoop your team’s butt this week, Don. But thanks for reading.
And finally, there’s a chance that I might be updating this blog at some point on Saturday. I’m trying to get some questions answered from a serious Man Utd fan and blogger, but I tried to set it up at the last minute. So please check back and look for updates at a later point. I’ll just insert those into this blog if I get a chance.
I think Brenton will do a live blog, JG will recap it, and I’ll miss the game, as I always do on Sunday mornings. But I’ll be back with a blog about wages on either Sunday night or Monday morning.
Come on, Arsenal.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1.