Son of a Gun!

Musings on Arsenal Football Club by a Singaporean Gooner (Gooner since 1988)

Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs Arsenal August 29, 2009

Filed under: Premier League,Season 2009/2010 — Son of a Gunner @ 6:53 pm

I had intended to write about the preview of the Celtic game as well as the Celtic match analysis but my internet connectin was down those two days and I must say it’s immensely frustrating.

The biggest topic of that game was the Eduardo dive, which is unfortunate. Let’s face it, Arsenal was always going to win the game regardless of that penalty and the guf between the two sides were evident. Even Celtic manager Tony Mowbray was a big enough man to admit that Arsenal went through on credit. There were a couple of players such as their only goalscorer Donati, who said Eduardo should be banned for 2 games. If that is to be the yardstick, then I reckon Cristiano Ronaldo should retire this very instant for the number of games he would have been banned for should last at least a decade.

I’m not going to condone diving even from Arsenal players. Especially from Arsenal players. I have mentioned in my blog befoe that Eboue’s gamesmanship which includes diving is what made fans turn against him last season as this is not a characteristic of an Arsenal player. But when players, ‘pundits’ (many of whom get big bucks for talking rubbish on tv) and the media begin to attack Eduardo for being a cheat is overboard. When Pires first arrived in English football, he was not a diver. But after he suffered a long term injury from a reckless tackle, he came back a more cautious player and tends to jump out of tackles which made him look like a diver and people just went on about it, ignoring the fact that he was a great player. Eduardo was never known as one. We all know what happened to his ankle last year and I believe he was trying to jump out of the tackle as well. However, we can see if this is true when we next see a tackle on Eduardo. I won’t have complained if Eduardo was cautioned with a card and we didn’t get the penalty. If there is anyone to blame, then put the blame on the referee who gave the penalty in the first place.

Michel Platini has always seem to have an agenda against Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. He has done it again by saying he will back UEFA to look at the video and ban Eduardo. This will not make any sense, as he was not even cautioned during the game. There are instances of referees seeing a violent act and giving a yellow card and as long as they put it in their report, the rules state that it cannot be overturned if the referee saw the incident. So if UEFA were to set a precedent simply because the scutiny is higher in an Arsenal game then I think UEFA really is te kind of dud organisation that they are.

Ok, I have endured it long enough the past couple of days on this one particular incident and now I feel better ranting about it.

Let’s move on to the positives. We are in the Champions League proper and we have a rather ‘kind’ draw with Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar, Greek champions Olympiacos and Belgian side Standard Liege. The trickest opposition would be Olympiakos in my opinion. We will discuss more about that another day.

Moving on to today’s preview on the big game against Manchester United:

1 – Cesc Fabregas will miss today’s game.
This is the worst news to have come out of the Arsenal camp. I had expected yesterday that Cesc would be rushed back for this game just as he played against Cetic in the first-leg when he was also deemed 50-50 to play. The latest news on the official website, however, confirmed his absence today.

There is no doubt that Cesc was on top of his game during the first 3 games of the season. He also seemed to have step up anoter level starting his first full season as captain. His game is also helped by the new formation allowing him space and cover to spray his world-renowned passes and to oil the Arsenal midfield engine. Therefore to lose him for tonight’s game against United is a big blow to us. We do have replacements in the squad, Ramsey is back. Diaby, Denilson and Song looks set to start the game and Rosicky might get a place on the bench. His involvement might be crucal as United would not have prepared for him.

The best news to come out of Cesc’s absence is that he might be able to pull out of the international game for Spain and return 100% against United’s city rivals. We need Cesc to be fit for the long term, as his 4 month absence last season seriously dented our title hopes.

The likely team for today would be Alumnia, Sagna, Clichy, Gallas, Vermaelen, Denilson, Song, Diaby, van Persie, Bendtner, Arshavin.

My ow preference is to put Ramsey in as he would be fresher than Denilson but I think Wenger will opt for the proven.

2 – Manchester United were known to begin the season in sluggish form.
True to form, United has already lost one game and to newly-promoted side Burnley, no less. They also struggled to score against another newly-promoted side Birmingham on opening day despite their dominance in possesstion. Then they took out on their frustrations against Wigan in a 5-0 drubbing.

We certainly started the season in stronger form and against better opposition like Everton. However, form seldom count for anything when the big guns face off against each other.

Antonio Valencia is a very good winger, but he is not Cristiano Ronaldo. Valencia can beat his man, and send pin-point crosses in. He has a notable pace although he isn’t the fastest man in the world. But his direct contribution to goals will not be like Ronaldo’s. That means their strikeforce would have to be heavily relied on to put away the chances they create. That can be dangerous.

Rooney, Berbatov and even Owen, are exceptional world-class strikers any club in the world would be proud to have. But the balance of utilising the three of them to the maximum is not yet found. That could be crucial to today’s result.

3 – Game will be closer than one think.
The media are still trying to write off Arsenal’s chances as this would be their first real test of the season. However, although I won’t dispute that fact, I would like to also point out that the opposite is true. Arsenal is not Burnley, is not Birmingham, and definitely isn’t Wigan. If they think they will have it easy against our new-look defence then they will be in for a real shocker.

Although we do not possess the biggest defence, we now have a real hardman in the middle that is Vermaelen. Besides, our central defence of Gallas and Vermaelen are both taller and bigger than Rooney and Owen. Berbatov is the only exception.

Manchester United is also missing Rio Ferdinand, who to me is of the same magnitute of us losing Cesc. Their possible replacements are certainly not world beaters. Johnny Evans proved to be really useful last season but he is not fully fit. Wes Brown would be a dream-come-true for Arsenal fans as we all know what he is capable of, or incapable of. John O’Shea is not a natural defender but I reckon he will do the best job of the three at present.

I feel there are goals in this game for both sides, and both my head and my heart is telling me that we will be witnessing a real cracker of a game with goals coming from both ends but we will nick a win.

No one gave us a whisker of a chance last season in our first game against United, but we defeated them 2-1. I’m quietly confident.

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