Good morning Insiders. No ‘Ask the Oppo’ today. I failed to secure an interviewee but I must admit the idea of conversing with a smug United fan didn’t really appeal to me all that much.
So it’s the last away day of what’s felt like an extra long season. The journey to Old Trafford, a trip made without much pleasure or excitement. I don’t think I have ever known a game that so many Gooners are dreading. A quick skip through the various Arsenal Blogs and anyone can see that many of us think we’ll be on the end of a heavy beating and I must admit a twinge of fear myself. That 6-1 humiliation we suffered in the 2001 has meant Old Trafford is the theatre of many of my nightmares, with Stepanov’s being the chief tormentor in those bad dreams.
United go into the game needing only a point to secure the title, the only point we will be trying to make is that we have a spine. The easiest thing for us to do is show-up, take a beating and go home, believing things will be different next season but at Arsenal that’s never good enough. There are only two games left this season and the attitude shift we all want to see next season should start today.
Personally I’m looking to Kolo and Cesc to really get a hold of those around them and lift the spirits of the side but also I think they need to approach the manager. At the very start of Mr. Wenger’s reign he tried a 3-5-2 formation that didn’t go down at all well with our famous back four. Tony Adams approached Le Boss and explained the feelings of the side that the formation was not working and we reverted to 4-4-2. I think we can all see that against the better sides our 4-2-3-1 is dysfunctional. It has been effective against sides like Wigan and Portsmouth, teams without any real midfield power but against other top sides, we’ve been about as difficult to get through as wet tissue paper. Surely the players can feel that the system doesn’t suit them? Surely some of them must approach the Gaffer?
My personal choice right now is a return to 4-4-2 with Arshavin given the split striker role and Nasri returning to the left. I’m not saying the French youngster won’t eventually be a central player just that he’s not ready for that yet, he has also shown a good defensive streak in recent games that could offer Gibbs more protection than the languid Diaby. Cesc has been the fulcrum of our team for the last 3 seasons and his ability to move the ball back to forward is his greatest strength. For the Spanish national side he uses the more intricate part of his passing to unlock doors for front two that are full of movement. This works because behind him he has Xavi feeding him the ball in advanced positions and he has Torres and Villa willing to continually make inside runs that Cesc’s delicate passing picks out to devastating effect, this is obviously what Wenger hoped would happen at Arsenal but, to me, it looks like the experiment is failing
badly. Cesc should be the player that sets the tempo of our game firmly planted in the centre of midfield.
Thankfully Arshavin has returned to the squad and with news that Ferdinand will miss the game, we will hopefully have more goal threat than we had in the Champions League encounters. After those CL games and the Chelsea game many did ask questions about the attitude of some of our players, at Thursday’s press conference Arsene had this to say:
“I see them every day and my players can be proud of their attitude. These players have been remarkable with their attitude and quality in most of the games. I am very proud of my staff as well. I live in a job of responsibility and of commitment. There is a difference between the two. I am here to produce what I can. If it’s not good enough it’s not good enough. That is not down to me to judge that. I feel very proud of the commitment of the players. At the end of the day you can give as much as you can and it is down to other people to assess the situation. Is it good enough? I am happy to accept that.”
Wenger does really sound like he’s had enough of some of the fans who are clearly intent on sticking the knife in and, to be honest, I’m happy to hear him biting back. The players will be feeling the effects of the last two games, they will be low, and the manager coming out fighting will hopefully give them a much needed confidence boost.
AW also, yet again, defended Ade insisting the abuse many are aiming at the Togolese captain does not help anyone. In truth, I don’t think we have forgiven him for his Milan flip-flopping during the summer and that’s why he is the target of our frustrations. If he does stay past this season, Ade needs to realise that humility and work rate are the routes back into our hearts.
Carlos Tevez seems to be doing everything he can to put himself in the shop window at the moment as it looks like his time at United is running out and he’ll be of many big threats today; as I said earlier, we really need Kolo to get a hold of all the players and get them to concentrate on their defending. Closing down the space in the middle of the park will be key to us getting anything out of this game. Of all the players that I hate a United, Carrick’s Spud history makes me hate seeing him happy at the end of a game more than any other, you just know that little nipple was texting his ex-team mates delighted that he got on over on us after that awful night at the Emirates.
So we go into today’s games with nothing to lose but pride to be gained. So don’t be too worried this morning. Enjoy your cereal, enjoy the game and enjoy watching the side test its resolve against the Champions Elect. One thing this side has continuously done this season is surprise us (although not all have been good surprises!) and today I wouldn’t be shocked if take all three points. Something inside me says this season has on last trick to play on us all.