Well here we go with a crunch game against United in what could define our season. I say this because the FA Cup is our greatest chance of a trophy but this may also have a mental effect on our league visit to Old Trafford which will be decisive in the top 4 battle.
Now personally I think we are miles better than United; better style of football, better players, and superior manager and so on but I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow we find a way to lose if not get humiliated. Rooney is very likely to be on the scoresheet as he always is against us regardless of form, somehow Falcao may suddenly hit form and De Gea may have a blinder!
That’s the negative expectation of course. This game is there for the taking though and I think we have to produce a similar performance to the one at the Etihad. When we’ve encouraged open end-to-end games with Man U we’ve suffered as a result.
Gabriel’s injury is a big blow for me because I think Mertesacker struggles in these fixtures, his lack of pace are a real hindrance and United’s mobility in attack could exploit him. Chambers is an option but having 2 teens in the back 4 if you include Bellerin is very risky, Hector should start as he’s the more natural full-back. We’ll need Coquelin sitting very deep to shield the defence and would also be wise to bring Ramsey back into the team for his energy to solidify the midfield.
I’d like to see one of Theo/Ox start out wide right so we have an outlet on the break, it’d also offer an option for Ozil to utilise.
I’d give Welbeck a crack up top as this would be a massive opportunity for him to prove himself against the club that deprived him of this chance. I know Giroud’s been in good goalscoring form but in these particular fixtures he tends to frustrate, he scored off the bench the last time we played them too so we should use him off there again.
I really can’t call this game and people seem happy to take a replay but we have to end this Old Trafford curse once and for all and no better way to do it than in defending our trophy.
Team I’d Go For:
Bench: Ospina; Chambers, Gibbs; Santi, Rosicky, Ox/Theo; Giroud
This team would have great balance to it and chance to hit United on the break Ozil in for Santi is a very big call as at City Cazorla was instrumental in the result but Mesut Ozil has a lot to prove in the bigger games and we should see how he copes with a front 3 designed to his liking and a solid midfield behind him.
Having said that I can see Santi starting in a midfield 3 and Ozil being thrown out wide, thankfully this is the managers headache not mine.