Posts Tagged ‘ Evra ’

Arsenal faces Manchester United: The anxiety ‘almost’ over

There has been so much speculation surrounding this fixture, that it’s been tough to follow ‘all’ of it for an average Arsenal fan like me. This just builds up to the intensity, and shows how badly both teams want to come out as the victorious ones.

Everyone seems to have had their say. Some a bit outspoken, while others simply reiterating the already known. Let’s sum up what’s been said so far.

Evra has possibly made himself the most hated figure to the whole Arsenal community by calling our club a ‘training centre’. Park Ji Sung questions our ability to win, partly due to inexperience. Sagna came up with a statement to just hit back at Evra’s unnecessary criticism (thank you Bacary). Nasri has said that he’s not afraid of Manchester United as they are much weaker offensively than they were before. Clichy has spread a strong signal of intent by saying that Arsenal are ready to change their tactical style of play, in order to beat United. The funniest comment, in my opinion was when Darren Fletcher came out of nowhere and tells the press that he’s not a ‘dirty player’ like Wenger has so before. I’m sorry Darren, but find a better excuse to get on the news (I don’t think even Man United fans care about what he says). Wenger and Ferguson on the other hand, have both come out with ‘respectful’ comments. They are two managers that have persisted in the Premier League for so long, and we all know how they must really feel like inside when it’s time they go head-to-head.

All of these comments seem to be insignificant now. After a few hours when the whistle blows for kick-off, none of these players will remember what has been said. All that will matter is the 90 mins of football that will determine the winners of this clash.

What really ticked me off today was when I was talking to one of my friends who is a hardcore Man Utd fan. He was telling me that even Tottenham are better than Arsenal now (nobody goes there). That’s where the Man Utd fans confidence level is. They criticise Arsenal before talking about the strength of their own team. You can’t blame a Man Utd fan. We have no one to blame but ourselves for not winning a trophy for so long. However, what my friend was also saying is that Manchester United are a ’10 star’ team in FIFA 11 and Arsenal aren’t. Well on that matter, I just want to tell all the Man Utd fans that the only reason their legendary team gets 10 stars nowadays is because they make Wayne Rooney one of the best strikers in the game. I won’t blame FIFA 11 on that either, because they didn’t know that Wayne Rooney wouldn’t score a proper goal for United in 5 months!

To be honest, I can’t be bothered about all that title race and mentality stuff when it comes to United. All I want is for the Gunners to go out there and beat them, whether it’s at Old Trafford or not.

I don’t know how Wenger motivates his players before the match starts. I just want to tell all the Arsenal players that in order to be champions, we must feel like champions. Be a champion tonight. Go out there, and make us proud.

Follow me @sharjilh

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Manutd Strikers vs Arsenal Defenders

This fixture could not have come at a better time. Both Arsenal and Manchester United are in the form of their life. Arsenal have won four of their last four away games and Manutd have won four of their last four home games. From a neutral perspective, this match has got all it takes to be a season best. This match is the definition of goals.

But, the odds seem to be slightly tilted towards the home side. Manchester United have scored the most number of goals in the Premier League even though they have played fifteen, one less than Arsenal. On the other hand, Arsenal have kept only four clean sheets out of a possible sixteen. This indeed is worrying from an Arsenal perspective. Arsenal now have to score more than the highest scoring team in their own home ground whilst providing a top defensive display. Can Arsenal do it? Only time will tell.

I am fully confident that Arsenal can dominate midfield even in the absence of Cesc Fabregas. And both of our top two strikers have enough quality to deal with  the Manutd defense. But can I say with the same confidence that the Arsenal can dominate the Manutd strikers? Unfortunately the answer has to be no. The fu

llbacks can possibly handle themselves but I am really concerned with the heart of our defense. Let’s see what might happen when the defenders go head to head with the strikers:

Koscielny vs Berbatov: Having never played Manutd before, this match-up is hard to predict. Koscielny is alright with his aerial ability although I would have preferred Djourou against Berbatov. I don’t think Wenger will listen to me though. If Koscielny can keep up with Berbatov aerially, I believe Koscielny will be at an advantage. This is because Koscielny is best at anticipating and tackling. I also believe he can cope with Berbatov’s pace which is not very high. What Koscielny has to be aware of is Berba’s killer instinct near the goal. A lot of low crosses will be played from both sides with the help of Nani and Park(possibly) and Koscielny will need to man-mark the striker really well.

Squillaci vs Wayne Rooney: I am most worried about this match-up. Unless we are really lucky and/or Rooney is completely out of form, I cannot see Squillaci effectively defending against the Englishman. Squillaci is slow. His tackling is so-so and aerially he his horrifying. Moreover, his partnership with Koscielny has yet to take off. If Arsenal are to lose/draw against Manutd on Monday, Rooney might as well be the reason for it. To cope with him, Squillaci has to be at the top of his game and Wenger has to apply some major tactics. Squillaci will not get away with it if he repeats the same errors that he made against Fulham and Partizan. Their strikers were lethargic, Wayne is not. Rooney will punish Squillaci cruelly for every mistake he makes.

Clichy vs Nani: This one can go either way. It depends on which Clichy shows up on Monday. Will it be the Clichy with the awesome tackling ability or will it be the absent-minded, error prone Clichy we occasionally see? Clichy can match Nani with his speed but it will be his awareness and tackling precision that determines who wins the duel. I say tackling ‘precision’ because Nani will be up to his tricks and everytime Clichy makes a bad tackle he will give away a free kick. And, we do not want to concede free kicks to the likes of Berbatov, Rooney and Vidic, especially when Nani will be taking them. Let’s just hope the right Clichy shows up on match day.

Sagna vs Park: This is one duel I am fairly confident about. The only thing that Sagna needs to be wary of is Park’s movements off the ball. That Korean can make some deadly runs and Sagna has to make sure that the Park-Evra combination does not work. But, I think out of all the Arsenal defenders, Sagna is the most dependable and I expect him to do his job.

Manchester United will be up for the game but so will Arsenal. To hide some of our apparent frailties, we have to dominate the game well. We have to make sure the ball is on the right side of the field most of the time. Manchester is a counter attacking team and I hope our players are training accordingly. This is not a run of the mill fixture; we have to do much more than we did against the likes of Fulham and Partizan. Manchester United will be looking to take advantage of every mistake we make and we have to always be one step ahead of them to win.