Note: I am posting this from my iphone so apologies if things are a bit out of order.
Another difficult week for Arsenal is at an end but not before a trip to Old Trafford. From losing Nasri to an amazing win against Udinese and qualifying for the Champions League to having a bid for Cahill rejected and not getting a work permit for Campbell, everything has happened this week for us.
Today, however, we need more to concentrate on the game at hand. So, forget everything that has happened, is happening or is going to happen because we need to beat United! This is the last game of this month and the tough opening fixtures that we got. We haven’t started the season the way we would have liked. Still, we have done well in some games under the circumstances.
Today also won’t be easy. And more than the game, to pick the starting eleven will even more difficult. We are really short of options in the middle. Overall we are without Gervinho, Song, and Frimpong through suspension. Wilshere and Gibbs are injured (and if you all have forgotten, Diaby is still out).
There is some good news in the defensive department though. Koscielny had a positive test, Djourou is also available. There are some doubts over Vermaelen but I am hoping he will make it. Rosicky is also on hand in the middle.
With all this in mind, I will start with Koscielny and Vermaelen at the back flanked by Sagna and Traore. United will use the wings extensively and it is better that we start with players on their favorable positions.
Upfront, there isn’t much of a choice either. Van Persie will lead the line and he will be flanked by Arshavin and Walcott. Arshavin had a rest mid week so let’s hope he is all geared up for United because we will need that. Otherwise, I will give one of Chamberlain or Miyaichi a start.
The middle is where things get real tough. I am sure we will see Rosicky and Ramsey but who will start as defensive midfielder is one big piece of puzzle. Considering Wenger, I am certain we will see one of Djourou, Vermaelen or Koscielny in the role. And since Vermaelen and Koscielny have a great partnership as centre backs, Djourou will deputize for Song (Personally, I prefer Koscielny in this role). However, this all depends if Vermaelen makes it. Otherwise we have Coquelin or Lansbury to come in the middle.
Probable starting eleven: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Traore, Djourou, Rosicky, Ramsey, Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin.
As far as the game is concerned, United definitely have the advantage today. They know our weaknesses and will exploit them using the wings and speed. Nani is in good form and he will be continuously changing wings to force his way. Crosses will be flowing in right and left. Sagna and Traore will have to play intelligently and Ramsey and whosoever starts as defensive midfielder will need to give their support.
Rooney is going to act as their linchpin. He can distribute the ball quickly to the wings and then rush forward to receive the cross. Our midfield will have to be continuously on their toes to counter this. Don’t give Rooney space and he will be forced to play the ball sideways or back.
United do have problems of their own at the back. Their new keeper is certainly not class and down with confidence at the moment. They are also missing players in defense. So if we play this intelligently, we can surprise them. Testing their keeper continuously might do the trick today.
The only thing is we will ne need to be a bit creative. United know how to defend against us so we will need to mix things up. Arshavin, Walcott, Ramsey and Rosicky will all have to step their games up if we are to get away with points here. We will have to fight for the ball today and hold our ground because United won’t hold back. Another loss for us is not going to go down well with anyone.
This brings me to the result. As was the case with Liverpool, I will take a draw at Old Trafford under the circumstances we are in. However, a win will be massive and make the coming weeks easier. I have my fingers crossed for we will surprise everyone with a win today, hopefully!
Have a good day and enjoy the game. Let’s hope we end this month with a high!
p.s. I was busy this week with work, travelling and also survived a bad flu and fever so wasn’t able to update the blog. Things will return to normal this week.