United Preview, Park To Fill Space At Arsenal & More
Arsenal travel to Old Trafford this afternoon for a match which they may as well not turn up for, written off by the professional pundits and a sizable portion of their own support. If ever the pressure ought to be considered off, it is this afternoon. The players thankfully will not see it as such and following their win in Italy, will be more confident than at the final whistle last weekend.
Wenger will be hoping that Arsenal break their ducks this afternoon. First domestic goals of the season, first Premier League win and first time in a league match that no-one gets sent off. I am not sure he has the squad to cope with another midfield dismissal, even if the next fixture is Swansea at The Emirates.
It is tempting to say that Old Trafford has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for Arsenal but when things go in their favour, it is a portent of a decent season. The last victory there was too long ago, September 2006. The start to that campaign had been equally poor; two home draws and an away defeat, two goals in three games around a successful Champions League qualifier. Arsenal were in 17th place going into that fixture, some uncanny parallels.
That was the last of Arsenal’s fifteen victories at United, only 25 of the other 77 league visits have garnered a point. Arsenal have only scored 78 goals in the total 95 league matches there, conceding roughly twice as many. There are many trends to be bucked for a win this afternoon.
I cannot even offer the positives of Arsenal always win on the last weekend in August at Old Trafford, we don’t, we have never won at Old Trafford in August, four draws and three defeats whilst the only time the teams have met on this day, Manchester United left Highbury with a single goal victory under their belts. History is not looking kindly on Arsenal.
With the turmoil that has beset the club this summer, low expectations are of no surprise. Demands for a new defender are not quite met although the reported value here does not sit with the same newspaper’s ‘exclusive‘ that Arsenal bid £6m last week. Wait, no, they did not and Phil Gartside made himself look the biggest idiot chairman since, well, the last time a Premier League chairman opened his mouth.
A new midfielder might have been nice going into this fixture, Wenger presumably hoping that Djourou, Koscielny and Vermaelen are all fit as the Swiss international can then drop into the defensive midfield role, the position he was playing in when signed by Arsenal. Arteta for Bendtner and cash? Perhaps, it fits in with the comments from the manager about Bendtner last week, rather too snugly. Lucho Gonazalez is this morning’s long time target who won’t go away. The new one? Mateo Kovacic.
One deal that has been missed entirely by all of those who are ‘in the know‘ was Park Chu-Young for around £10m from Monaco. It has a hint of the archetypal Wenger deal, being something of a left-field signing, although Park has been known to turn up on the right or down the middle. The politics of it all bring back memories of Emmanuel Petit’s signing, the Frenchman borrowing the taxi fare from Alan Sugar to come to Arsenal for his medical. Apocryphal or not, it brings a smile to think that one of Sugar’s Carlos Kickaball‘s stiffed him. Mind you, most of them that turned up at Tottenham did just that…
Lille apparently had not inkling that the Korean was going to do a runner but we now know why Gervinho was originally talking in the third person during interviews. His former chairman does exactly that and Seydoux may now be regretting his decision not to deal with Arsenal on Eden Hazard.
Recent weeks have seen Arsène defend himself against charges of being stubborn, something he elaborated on at his press conference,
You have to be open-minded and humble, but also determined when you have beliefs. We care about opinions, but at the end of the day you have to make decisions. I personally try to do what is right for this Club when I make a decision.
I look at the opinions of people, of course, but if I feel deeply about a decision then I do it. It is sometimes controversial. I do not think I know everything about football but I have massive experience.
All of the managers have a stubborn streak in them, the successful ones anyway. I have never had a problem with that, a number do though. The problems is, as Kenny Dalglish opined last week, who do you replace Wenger with and what guarantee do you have that they will spend, spend, spend, which is the desired Modus Operandi. It is not as if the board can be relied on, although it is hard to see how Alisher Usmanov is undermining anyone since he is on the outside with little input into the club and no sign of an increase in popularity, despite populist soundbites.
A hint of paranoia once more though, it is hard to credit his theory that the fixture list has been sold out to Sky since none of the other teams have had their big clashes this early in the season. I would have thought that broadcasters would be begging for an end of season finale rather than early season bonanza’s. Nothing wrong with a good conspiracy theory though. A shame this one isn’t very good.
The line-up I expect this afternoon is:
Szczesny, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Sagna, Ramsey, Djourou, Rosicky, Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin
There are one or two options, Arshavin dropping out for Lansbury for example, in a more orthodox 4-4-2 but I suspect Arsène will want some consistency in the formation / selection.
A win is the objective, it always is. However avoiding defeat would be almost as much of a boost, especially if accompanied by a strong performance. Either way, a continuation of the fighting spirit shown so far, the willingness to work hard for each other will bring positive results. Perhaps starting this afternoon.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.
Posted on August 28, 2011, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 1,560 Comments.