Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Arsenal vs United: Match Preview

Needless to say, this is a must-win. After our sickening collapse at Anfield, it is absolutely vital to bounce back and defeat Manchester United. For title challengers, nothing less than three points would work, and that's what we are going for.

We couldn't have caught United at a weaker time. Under Moyes, they are one of the most shockingly poor outfits I have ever seen. Signing Mata seems to have had little effect - they lost to Stoke and drew hilariously to Fulham. However, they were in similar perils when we visited them at Old Trafford, yet they managed to come out with three convincing points.

Moyes already seems to be losing the plot. His redundant tactic of telling his team to repeatedly cross the ball to no competent target man is yielding poor results. One feels that if we have full backs in form (Sagna and Gibbs) and a 6 ft 6 inch Per Mertesacker, we could nullify a lot of their attacking threat on the flanks. In reality, if the manager motivates the team correctly and chooses the right starting XI, three points would be comfortably gained.

However, I don't think that he's going to do that. Wenger always fails to mentally prepare his team for big matches - that is a factor that could cost us dear. In addition, his irritating habit of overplaying Mesut Ozil is not boding well for the player as well as the team, but it's a trend that seems set to continue.

My advice? With Arteta and Wilshere covering the defence (what other choice do we have?), Santi Cazorla should occupy the central attacking midfielder role. Lukas Podolski should be deployed on the left, and Tomas Rosicky on the right, and Olivier Giroud as our mainstream main man. Ozil is long overdue a rest - we should keep in mind the Champions League clash against Bayern is approaching.

However, I am quietly confident that Wenger will go out with the same one-dimensional formation, lineup and tactics. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen, but if United catch up on Wenger's naive attacking method, they could close us down and cause problems like Everton, Dortmund, Southampton and Liverpool did earlier in the season.

You know, I actually think that United are going to snatch this encounter as well. It's not about being pessimistic, but I think Wenger's flawed team selection and United reading through Arsenal's tactics would result in another bad result. Moyes is having a really bad time at Manchester, so maybe the factor that could go in our favour is that he ignores our deficiencies and sends a confidence-depleted side to London. Either ways, I'd be really surprised if we manage to win this game comfortably.

The odds are overwhelmingly in our favour. We have a fantastic home record, and are sitting 14 points pretty of United. Even so, I just hope that I had a better feeling about this match.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )