United We Stand Or Divided We Fall?
Manchester United arrive at The Emirates for the match that will decide the outcome of the Premier League title. Victory for the hosts today followed by defeat for today’s visitors next weekend, will see the Premier League trophy back in London.
A fortnight ago, that sentence would have ended with Arsenal. Now it is Chelsea. Such are the fickle fortunes of football; so wafer thin is the margin of error. The recriminations will continue long into the summer, the entrées have been served over recent weeks.
Today though, is a chance to put that to one side. A victory will not make the Arsenal world right but it will make it a happier place to be. Orbinho came up an interesting stat on Twitter yesterday: The 1st time Arsenal went 3 home league games without a win under Arsene Wenger was in Nov 2001. The run ended with a 3-1 win over Man Utd.
Whilst a similar result today might just hand the title momentum to Chelsea, frankly I’m not bothered. Victory over United might go some way to laying the ‘big game bottlers’ tag that has been handed to Arsenal. Defeat will simply serve to reinforce the prejudices which are being served with some relish.
By Wenger letting the players accept responsibility, Winter means let the press hang them out to dry instead of dealing with matters behind closed doors. The self-importance of the media knows no bounds.
The players have taken responsibility, all of the comments that have been made recently by Djourou, Sagna and Walcott have been mea culpa. Of course, Winter’s perception of weakness is one viewed oppositely by the players,
The great thing about our manager is he always deflects things on to himself and keeps things completely away from the team. But that is where we need to help him out and we haven’t done that in previous weeks.
Thus spake Theo. There is an underlying reason for this desire,
Maybe instead of waiting for things to happen, we are going to make things happen. We need to do it for him. He has shown so much belief and support in us – and the fans have done exactly the same thing.
In other words, the behind the closed doors meetings alluded to by Sagna have seen the players accept their failings. Now it is all well and good have these clear the air talks but unless something comes of them, they are pretty pointless.
Today is the chance for that to happen. Finishing the season on a high with victories in the final four fixtures will not ease the pain but restore the confidence which has been so sorely missing in recent weeeks.
The team will not be showing many changes from last Sunday, if any. Thomas Vermaelen has apparently come through the reserve outing against Manchester United’s equivalents in midweek but this is too soon, surely? Wenger noted that it was but things may have changed over the bank holiday.
Which means that the individuals who succumbed meekly at The Reebok have the chance to rectify the situation:
Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy; Fabregas, Song, Wilshere; Walcott, van Persie, Nasri
We know how United will play against Arsenal, they have done so successfully in recent seasons by flooding the midfield and hitting on the counter. Patrice Evra took time to change his tune to being wary of the Arsenal players’ wounded pride, as opposed to his usual bellicose dismissal of boys against men.
Arsenal can win this match, at home they have proven this season that they are not afraid of the top four. Yet those were wins achieved when confidence was high. More than anything, Arsenal have shown that they are brittle in that respect at the moment. A win today would do much to restore the mental toughness required next season.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.