Preview: Arsenal V Manchester United (31st January 2010)


“The biggest match of our season so far” is what Fergie has described today’s encounter with Arsenal. Without question in terms of the league situation we find ourselves in, especially after John Terry’s late winner against Burnley yesterday. A win is a must.

However , I still feel the second leg of semi final against City as the biggest so far. There had been a lot talk before the game about differing issues; Carlos Tevez and the possibility of a power shift in Manchester… A power shift in Manchester? Not a chance of it! Typical media hype looking/hoping/praying for the demise of Manchester United once again. The media and many others are desperate for United and Fergie to fail. Anyway, I digress, I will discuss this further in a future blog. I would just like to say one thing however:

Power Shift, My Arse!!!

Although I was against the idea of playing a 4-3-3 formation in the second leg at Old Trafford on Wednesday, I fully support the idea for today’s game.

The City game was at home and I prefer a 4-4-2 formation at most home games. The 4-3-3 formation only worked during the second half and thanks to an early Paul Scholes goal just after half time, which eased the pressure. Rooney is left isolated too many times in a 4-3-3 formation and we saw this quite often during the first half, we lacked midfield runners as support.

Today however is different, we’re away from home and against one of our title challengers. Earlier in the season we saw against Chelsea how the 4-3-3 formation is ideal in big away games. We were unlucky to lose the game after a few poor referring decisions but it was our best performance to date as we dominated a strong Chelsea midfield. Midfield is probably Arsenal’s strength so we will employ the same tactics today, nullifying Fabregas and the rest of Arsenal’s midfield from playing short, intricate passes to one another.

Carrick and Fletcher are definite starters for me, with probably Scholes as the third centre midfielder (if Scholes is capable of playing Midfield). If not, then Anderson. In my opinion Anderson has played his better games as part of a three man midfield, he is allowed to break from midfield more often and play the supporting midfielder for Rooney.

I’d start with Nani as part of the top 3. Nani has returned to the team and played very well, he was a constant threat against City and Hull so deserves to remain in the team. The final attacking position is a toss-up between Giggs and Valencia. Similar to Scholes, I’m wary of Giggs playing two games in a week. I’d probably start with Giggs, see how he gets on and have Valencia on the bench tearing to go.

In defence there is a welcome return for Vidic (probably the reason why Fergie decided to play Rio against City). Rafael or Brown are fighting it out for the right-back position. I’m inclined to start with Rafael due to Arsenal being a small mobile team therefore Brown’s height advantage is less required.

The remaining positions are pretty clear. Evans as the other central defender; Evra at left-back and Van der Sar in net.

Score prediction?

I really fancy United today (perhaps blind faith ha ha), the players will be confident after the victory over City. I can see us over-powering Arsenal’s midfield and dominating the match. Arsenal have injury problems with forwards, Van Persie is pure quality and is a big loss. We may however see the return of Bedtner, if we do dominate midfield Arsenal can use the long ball game as they will have a target man, but don’t tell Martin O’Neil.

My score prediction: 2-0 United, goals from Rooney (who else) and Nani.

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