Gone are the days of the fierce rivalry that used to make this a mouth watering matchup with multiple flashpoints including over exaggerated diving, pizza throwing, unpunished violent conduct, title clinchers and last minute penalty failures to name but a few. Now it’s a mothballing contest, no more Keane v Vieira in the middle of the park but a genuine contest between Anderson and Ramsey. This is the case across the park with the exception of Evra of course.
Arsenal comes into this game off the back of hectic week. This disappointment that was the Liverpool game, Samir Na$ri delving into his pool of £50 notes and the victory we all craved in Udine. Whilst our performance against Udinese was far from perfect it has done enough to galvanise the side and install belief that we are still a side to be reckoned with. The only trouble is we are missing key players on Sunday and our best form of defence is attack. The only trouble is our goal scoring touch seems to evade us at Old Trafford and that has to change on Sunday if we are to take anything from the game.
We can start by stating that Arsenal has never scored two goals against United at Old Trafford in the EPL. That tells its own story but we have 2 highly memorable victories courtesy of 1-0 wins but I’m not sure this side has a 1-0 to the Arsenal performance in them at present (although I’d love to be proved wrong). I’ve attended our games at Old Trafford a lot over the years and we seem to play within ourselves a lot of the time. We lack the fluency that usually flows regularly with our style of play. We have netted one goal in our last three games there and that was a speculative effort from Arshavin that caught Foster off guard, obviously Diaby took exception to that and inexplicably put through his own net and that was moments after Almunia gave Rooney an invitation to dive to get them back on level terms. A side like ours, with our attack should be posing more of a threat in big games like these.
I’m not buying into the shoot on sight policy either. For anyone who watched MNF, it was quite embarrassing watching N17 shooting from all corners of the Manchester because De Gea conceded 11 goals from outside the box last season. We need to be more methodical in our approach but the odd speculative effort is allowed. In our last three visits the home goalkeeper has had to save a mighty total of 11 shots on goal, keeping two clean sheets in the process. To break that down further 3 of those saved efforts are from attempts outside of the box. That’s pretty poor isn’t it?
Van Persie and Walcott are coming off the back of goal scoring performances and their directness will dictate how much influence we will have on the game. Until Wednesday both seemed to be reluctant to commit players and took the easy way out by popping the ball off but they can get joy out of this United defence. Whilst it full of quality it is hardly a cohesive unit and chances will come our way. I am confident we will score although I have nothing to back up my claim other than purely biased hope.
We responded at half time on Wednesday when the chips were down and half of Europe was anticipating our exit for the Champions League. We got the result we needed in midweek and there’s no reason why we can’t do the same again this weekend, we could just do with a few more attempts on goal.