Another game we need to get 3 points from, however in this case we must be underdogs. Following a very poor run of results (too disappointing to discuss) the team have a choice – either we settle for an underwhelming 3rd place or we fight to the end, I expect to see some fighting spirit.
Unfortunately, United are in excellent form having strolled through a Champions League semi-final on their way to Wembley, where most right minded people will be hoping for a Barca win. Much has been said about this MU side, mostly to it’s detriment – dull, workmanlike, efficient, lacking flair, not as good as SAF’s previous sides, the worst side to (potentially) win the PL, and above all inexplicably lucky; yet their fans will look at the Silverware and the 2010/11 season with pride. Once again the Purple Conked Glaswegian has shown he is the best manager in World football, who else can make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear?
But, But But …. the little angel on Big Raddy’s left shoulder is screaming at me ……. this season has been about us throwing away a title not MU winning one. Alongside the West London Russians we have contrived to gift United the title, we have consistently thrown away important points, drawing games we should have won, losing games we should have drawn. I am no statistician but it would be interesting to know how many points we have lost to goals in the last 5 minutes of games – enough to win the title one would imagine.
Before we doff our proverbials to the excellence of SAF’s management of so called “average players,” let us take a closer look at his team. Oh, this is a surprise, it is packed with extremely expensive talent; 3 players who cost over £30m, the most expensive defender in EPL history, a midfield that (taking out Giggs) cost almost as much as our entire team, a forward line with an average cost higher than our most expensive ever signing. And how many of the regular MU players are home grown? Take out the ancient Giggs and Scholes and the answer is NONE. This MU team could have a bench that cost as much as our entire squad !! Yet the press cream themselves about how SAF has guided an average team to such heights, a team he has expensively cobbled together – how has this myth been spread? I will tell you – because SAF has the press under his control in the same way that the ref’s and linesmen are too scared (it would be churlish to say corrupt) to give 50/50 decisions against the Red Devil.
I could write a whole post on Nani. Without doubt the most odious player in the PL.How can any decent football fan pay money to watch this cheat week after week? We have players who are prone to theatrics but this guy who is undoubtedly a fine player takes “simulation” to an art form. The only players in his league are Alves and Busquets at Barca (may I refer back to a fine post by Dandan highlighting the appalling cheating by Barca players midweek). I realise I am old fashioned, but what happened to honesty and integrity? How can SAF allow Nani to perform like this week after week? – anyone who saw SAF’s playing style would know how he would have reacted to Nani had he been on the pitch against him. And they say a cheat never prospers!!
Hernandez has been a revelation and is just the type of player to cause us problems. The fox in the box who has superb reactions – AW says he was monitoring him, so why not splash a few of our millions on him and sell Vela? Sadly, this guy has the potential to become a United legend.
Our team? Kind of picks itself – we play the best we have. The major disappointment to me of the past 3 weeks is that we have underperformed when having an almost full squad; no injury excuses (apart from TV) and exhaustion cannot be a factor – today’s opponents have played as many games with a smaller (and worse) squad.
SAF’s usual tactics when playing us is to employ a very physical forcing game and hit us on the break; the game at OT earlier in the season was typical, as was the Cup game when SAF sent out a team with a hugely defensive bias, expect the same today. If Fletcher is fit to play, Cesc and JW can expect a good kicking – the man is the essence of SAF’s chosen midfield general (Robson, Ince, Butt, Keane, Scholes etc). I like Park, a man who must despair of Nani and Rooney’s cheating abilities, he is a player who would fit well into our squad, an Asian Ray Parlour!
Thanks to our poor run what should have been a title decider has become another interesting game – a game that SAF can afford to rest Giggs in. Yet today remains one of the highlights of the season. Home to MU has always been a huge game. Some of my all-time favourite goals have been against MU; a brilliant George Graham scissor kick at the Clock End in a 2-2 draw with Best scoring in front of the North Bank, Alan Sunderland at Wembley, Wiltord at OT, TH14’s goal of the season at Highbury, Freddie’s first goal for AFC, David Platt’s last minute header in a 3-2 thriller at Highbury, PV4’s last kick for the Gunners etc etc. So many great memories – I am sure you can add your own.
What I would like to see from Arsenal today is for AW to get his tactics right and send out a team to match the opposition. Keep Rooney out wide, stop playing such a high defensive line, allow Nasri to play more central, push RvP onto the shoulder of Vidic – he has the pace to turn him. And above all, the team have to show the fans that they value their shirts, that they are not just professional footballers but that they are immensely proud to be Arsenal players.
Angus Deayton, Eamonn Holmes, Steve Coogan, Mick Hucknall, Gary Rhodes, Sean Connery, all big MU supporters …………. all live in the South :-)