This match is THE match of the season so far. Manchester United and Arsenal are level on points at the top of the table, grnated we have a game in hand, but a win in this game will give the victors a psycholgical edge going into the busiest part of the season. Both teams are playing brilliant attacking football with two slightly different styles; Arsenal’s football is all about team play, United’s slightly more about individual talent within the team.
Both teams are defending very well right now and look very solid at the back in open play. United will be a bigger threat from set pieces as we lack the dominance in the air they have. Aswell as a solid goalkeeper in Van Der Saar they have defenders who are capable of starting attacks while keeping it tight at the back. United have a perfect blend in Ferdinand and Vidic. The latter can dominate in the air with his partner having the pace to track players on the ground; it is a perfect mix of power and skill. This will be the key for them should they want to dominate Arsenal in the final third. Adebayor will be up against Vidic as he is Arsenal’s main ball winner but it depends who lines up alongside him that will make a big difference. Should Hleb play just off the Togo man it may cause the opposition some problems as he will want to play in the hole behind Adebayor. This will give Ferdinand a dilemna as to whether to push out of position to pick him up and leave Vidic one on one, or leave Hleb with some room. We all know the ability Hleb has to pick a pass and dribble past players; when granted any space and he can punish teams. Should Eduardo or Walcott play Ferdinand may have the beating of them as their pace will be matched. Ferdinand is known to have lapses in concentration so any sniff of a chance and Eduardo is the player to get a goal out of nothing.
Their full backs will need to be watched, with Evra in particular a real threat going forward. He will need to be tracked by whoever is chosen on the right of midfield. He will leave space in behind and this can be utilised on the counter should we attack with speed. He does have the pace to recover but we have the pace to get from one end to the other before he has the chance. I would pick Walcott over Eboue as his attitude is better and he will be willing to get back to help the team. His form is very good of late and the boost of being picked is the main thing that can get him up for this game. He can take advantage of space left for him aswell with his blistering pace. Brown is less naturally attacking but joins the play well and does the simple thing. His defending can be suspect and Rosicky must give him a hard time. They will play behind Ronaldo on the right and Giggs on the left most likely. We all know the threat these two pose and our full backs will be in for a tricky afternoon. Clichy did well against Ronaldo last season and hopefully he can do the same. He has been in good form and if he can get Ronaldo running towards his own goal we have a real chance. Sagna has also been in great form and I feel he can win his individual battle with Ryan Giggs. Although he is intelligent still, his pace has gone and Sagna is a hard tackling, speedy full back. I know they have much to deal with in defending our own goal but they must get forward as they did at Anfield on Sunday.
In the centre there will be a real battle. Hargreaves will be there to pick up Cesc and try to stop him playing. He is still a little rusty and probably wishes he had to face the in form Fabregas after a few more matches to gain fitness. It will be a real fight in there but Cesc can really give him the run around if he can re produce the form of this season so far. In all likelihood Flamini will play up against Carrick. Carrick has a great range of passing but if Flamini can get in and around him he can disrupt and unsettle Carrick’s game. United will miss Scholes in there and Carrick has big boots to fill. If Wenger opts for Hleb on the right he may add Gilberto to the team and try and stop United completely in midfield. With 3 in the centre we will dominate this area and hopefully prevent the ball reaching the forwards as they are the main threat.
Rooney and Tevez have finally gelled and Gallas and Toure will have a tough 90 minutes on their hands. They will not have much to do in the air and they are very good defenders on the floor. They have the pace and strength to match the forward line of Manchester United. This is the type of game that Toure and Gallas will be up for and should they win their battle at the back we have the basis to go and win this match. Hopefully Almunia will not have much to do; he has done well recently and if he can keep this up we have an opportunity to take the points.
Being the home side I feel we should attack them as much as possible while being wary of leaving ourselves open at the back. We need to work hard both going forward and defending and thats from the strikers all the way back to the keeper. If each player wins his personal battle we can win this game. Should they lose them, we will not. The game will be tense and we must take our chances when they arrive. This let us down against Liverpool. One last thing before I list the line up I would play
COME ON ARSENAL – WE CAN WIN THIS
I HATE MAN UTD – YOU HATE MAN UNITED
LETS BLUNT THEIR TITLE CHALLENGE EARLY AND GET REVENGE FOR THE TRAVESTY THAT WAS THE END OF OUR UNBEATEN RUN
Subs: Lehmann, Gilberto, Eboue, Eduardo, Bendtner