With Manchester United facing Arsenal on Monday, I posed several questions to members of the Goonersworld forum.
Stretford End Arising: What are your thoughts on Monday’s game? How are Arsenal likely to line up? What formation do you think they will adopt and what team do you expect to be selected? Which players should United keep an eye on? Which United player do you think poses the greatest threat to Arsenal?
Est83: I’m confident and I think our team will be confident also. I think United’s midfield at the moment is very average, and even without Cesc we can take advatage of that. It’s the most important area of the pitch as far as we’re concerned, and we’ve got plenty of pass masters that can control the game from the heart of the pitch. I would say the wings are where United hold their greatest threat, and our full backs will have to be on top form if we are to dominate every area.
We saw Wenger go back to playing two upfront in midweek, so a little unsure on the formation side. But a three man mid of Song and Wilshere deep, with Rosicky behind the striker should do the job nicely. Nasri is our man of the moment, so definitely keep an eye on him, but Rosicky too as he will be in his favoured position if he’s deputising for Cesc, and he is really coming back to his pre-injury form. Chamakh will be robust, and Arshavin will almost certainly contribute… even if he goes missing for 85 minutes!
dunkdafunk: I’m very much looking forward to it, we always struggle when we face an organised team, but Man United now are much weaker in midfield than I can remember. So I’m pretty confident we can boss midfield and win this match.
but Rosicky is coming into form so he might start ahead of Robin
United keep an eye on Nasri, he’s on fire at the moment, but they would be foolish to give Arshavin any room. Berbatov poses the greatest threat to Arsenal. Like Arshavin he can just turn up in big matches, has be quiet for last few weeks.
SEA: Will Arsenal win the league this season?
Est83: Arsenal will of course win the league Some (including our own fans) are saying that we’re only on top because of the poor form of the teams around us, but they’re forgetting that we’ve already had an injury crisis of our own and are more than likely going to gain some consistency ourselves. Chelsea and United will of course improve, and City as well (Tottenham, errr, not so much!) but we’re also in the list of teams that are yet to peak so far this season.
Rockin’ Robin: No idea, this league is so hard to predict these days. I have a feeling Chelsea will come back into it, but you’ll win the league, we’ll come second, Chelsea third, Man City fourth. Just an educated guess really.
Massa: Yes, we got enough in the locker and have as much chance as anyone in this hugely unpredictable league.
SEA: What is the latest situation with Fabregas; is he likely to leave in 2011? If he does sign for Barcelona how will he be remembered by Arsenal fans? What were your thoughts of the transfer saga during the summer?
Est83: Fabregas will stay for as long as Barca aren’t willing to stump up real cash. He can play the roles of both Xavi and Iniesta, and for me is the best playmaker in the world. He’s still so young and guarantees a huge future investment… £29m really is having a bubble!
At first we were all a little annoyed at his quiet stance on the whole saga, but I think most are in agreement that we can’t really blame him for having admiration for the club he’s supported since birth. He’s still giving his all for Arsenal and he hasn’t dealt with the situation in a disrespectful way as Ade-pay-me-more did! He doesn’t want the move enough to hand in a transfer request, so there’s no animosity, just a hope that he realises his future lies with us and no that scummy Catalan club.
The saga was an absolute joke. Just another example of how UEFA’s untouchables really do live in another world. Such blatant and unprofessional tapping up would not be tolerated from other clubs.
Massa: He’ll definitely want to go, the only way which we could make him rethink his options is if we manage to achieve a Champions League and Premier League victory. Barcelona will have to cough up a fair few pennies and not this 30 million bollocks. His time will be remembered fondly as he always tried to give us his all.
Dunkdafunk: Yes he will (leave), unless we win treble. He won’t be content with winning just 1 title. He will be remembered as Captain Fabulous, he has shown all England how we can nurture young talent and how extra responsibility can push a player to improve so much. During the saga the Barca players were out of order, Cesc played his part well, not saying anything and I bet he is glad he stayed. He would have struggled to get in the team anyway.
SEA: After five years without winning a trophy how do Arsenal fans view Arsène Wenger? Looking in from the outside criticism directed towards him appears to be more frequent? Personally, I think he has done a brilliant job during which time Arsenal have moved stadium. Whoever is Arsenal’s manger in 10-15 years is likely to benefit from Wenger’s good work. However, he needs to win a trophy in the near future.
Est83: Wenger… a controversial subject for some. For me though, I’m still 100% behind him. You’re spot on with your assessment, post-Wenger managers will benefit greatly from the ground work Wenger has put in. He does need a trophy to silence the critics though, but I believe we won’t be waiting too long for that trophy. In the six years we haven’t won the league, we’ve only failed to challenge for the title on three occasions… we’ve only had three dyer seasons. We maintained a decent title challenge last year up until the last few games, and this season we’re currently top and expecting to improve. So there’s no crisis, and I truly believe we’re coming to the end of our tunnel. There’s good times ahead, and they start this season.
Rockin’ Robin: I’d say that’s a far assessment, I didn’t have many bad words to say about him until the disastrous results against Sp*rs and West Brom. After those two games, my faith started to waver a bit, but a lot of it depends on how we do from here; we’re in a great position, thanks mostly to him, so let’s see if he can guide us to a trophy.
Massa: Wenger’s the man and I can almost guarantee that we’ll bag a trophy this season.
SEA: Which of the new summer signings have you been impressed by and who has disappointed?
ayN: Both Koscielny and Chamakh have disappointed me to be honest. Chamakh has no game sense, and Koscielny is too raw.
Est83: Chamakh has to be the most impressive of our three summer signings. He’s slotted in perfectly and we can’t really ask much more from him. This is his first season in the Prem but you wouldn’t know that to look at his performances. He’ll only get better, and chances are he’s not even our starting striker given a fully fit squad, so he’s really given us something to cheer about. Both centre backs Koscielny and Squillaci have raised questions. Koscielny’s rate of improvement has been staggering, whilst Squllaci seems to have everything in his locker already. But all too often we’re reminded by mistakes that this is their first season in the Premier League AND their first season playing side by side, injuries and suspensions have kept them from really gelling as a pair. If Rooney has a good game he will give them hell!
ARSHENAL: Agree wholeheartedly that Chamakh has been a great addition to our squad and must surely be one of the best summer signings in the league. Koscielny will come good but has struggled to adjust to the EPL after being thrown in at the deep end due to Vermaelen’s injury.
SEA: Which Arsenal youngsters are worth keeping an eye on?
Est83: The obvious youngsters to keep an eye on are Gibbs and Wilshere, as they already have one foot in the international door. Lansbury is talked of very highly and there’s a certain Jay Emmanuel Thomas that us Gooners can’t wait to see unleashed on the Prem! He’s a huge talent! A huge stature with bags of pace that also has freakishly good footwork for a guy his size. He reads the game well, fits in with our style, and can also seem to finish from any position. Expect the latter two to really make an impact next year.
Rockin’ Robin: Benik Afobe and Chuks Aneke are the two best youngsters that have come through our system since Wilshere, they play so well together as well.
SEA: Favourite Manchester United vs Arsenal match?
Est83: Too many great games! It really is the clash of the titans and the best fixture of the season. I’ve loved the more confrontational battles, but this one sticks out for me because of the goal. The two teams were both unquestionably great, and this was a simple 1-0 to the Arsenal at Highbury thanks to a “deliberate” and “majestic” goal from King Henry, lovely stuff! Arsenal vs Man United 30-9-2000.
ayN: 06/07. Game at Emirates. Arsenal 1-0 down till the 80th minute. Robin van Persie comes on, scores one, and Tiery Henry heads us to glory in injury time.
SEA: Favourite all time Arsenal player and why?
ayN: Henry was my favourite player of all time, for the sole reason that when I started watching Arsenal, even slightly, he was at his peak, and would perform feats that I haven’t seen anyone perform even until now.
Est83: Favourite player full stop is Dennis Bergkmap… simply because I am a believer in Bergkampism and I take my faith very seriously 😉
Rockin’ Robin: Fabregas, my first season of going to games was 2005/06, I went regularly to Highbury (I’m 14) for the first season and it coincided with his rise to prominence. One of my all-time favourite games was the 2-0 win over Juventus, and Cesc was a star in that, so I loved him then, and all he’s done for Arsenal has increased his standing with me hugely.
dunkdafunk: Bergkamp, he made me fall in love with football, first memory was him trapping the ball for Holland and scoring, why I support arsenal too.
ARSHENAL: Henry. His record speaks for itself.
Massa: Thierry Henry. The things he could do with the ball at his feet, absolutely phenomenal player.
SEA: Cheers lads.
If you wish to discuss with myself or other members of the Stretford End Arising community, you can do so in the Stretford End Arising forum.