The International Break is over at on Saturday lunch-time The Arsenal are back, and back at the home of one of our traditional rivals. Most of us hate Spurs the most, it’s our cultural DNA. But United, possibly due to the Wenger/Sir Alex rivalry, rank highly. And whilst many United fans don’t like us, they do respect us, since we have challenged them in Premier League history at least. It’s always special at their place, and some of the great moments in our history have taken place there.
This isn’t the United of Sir Alex Ferguson though, it’s now the United of Mourinho, and contrary to common Gooner opinion, I will say one thing:
This game won’t be easy!
Enough of the “we’re gonna smash ‘em!” or “United are shit, we’re gonna spank ‘em five or six!!” Come on. Let’s be reasonable. Don’t we remember how we played there last season? We have little right to such bravado.
With United currently in 8th place, tipsters, it seems, are varied in their predictions for the final result. Many are backing The Gunners for the full 3 points, while others such as SBAT are likely to update their tips page closer to match day.
- They’ve been unlucky. They should have beaten Burnley, and abominable finishing from Ibra, Rooney, Pogba et al cost them. Similar was true vs. Stoke City.
- They’re not as boring under Jose compared to van Gaal. Granted, they did park the bus at Liverpool. But then they have been playing decent football in other games.
- Their manager detests ours, and to be fair Mr. Wenger has no love for Jose. But just as he wants to break Mr. Wenger’s face, he’d like to break us on the pitch too. He despises Arsenal as much as Arsene and that is well documented, that’s for sure.
- A win against us (and without any bias we have been a better team than United this season) would boost their season. They can get top four and with luck possibly challenge for the league. A win against us would embolden them.
- They have top players. Ibra, Rashford, Rooney (yes he’s still good), Mata, Pogba, Herrera, Mhkitarian, de Gea, Martial. Their squad is as good as ours, arguably better, and they’re still having a post Sir Alex hangover. I mean no offence to anybody by stating this, but Manchester United has a Post Sir-Alex Stress Disorder. Losing a manager of his brilliance will take time to overcome, and even though they have won an FA Cup since he left, it has been traumatic by their high standards. Jose needs to have time to correct this.
So really, it won’t be easy. Now, this won’t mean we WILL lose, or cannot match them. Of course we can, we have top players too, and less issues overall. But we need to view this more objectively.
The main issues in getting a victory for us are the Jose factor. We’ve never beaten him, and it will be a test of our supposed new resolve as a team (the Community Shield doesn’t count in my opinion). If we beat him, it could bolster our season, and give us belief. Though this is something we need to overcome, we did so with Chelsea, so possibly the same can be true here.
Secondly, Jose is a master tactician, and he likes to get under Arsene’s skin a lot, since he supposedly “specialises in failing”. Arsene will know this, and we know Arsene isn’t as tactically meticulous as Jose. Will he make an exception now? He may have to, if he learns from his previous encounters. Jose will relish beating Arsene, and using this as means to propel United up the table.
Alexis and Bellerin may be injured, though we have enough in our locker to combat them. Giroud is decent, had a good game for France vs. Sweden, and Ozil is one of the players of the season thus far (for Arsenal and in the Premier League). ‘Kostafi ‘ have wobbled of late, but overall have been strong, and Cech has been his usual safe self. John Terry’s prediction of saving us 15 points proved true last season, and he saved us vs. Middlesbrough, Burnley, and to some extent Tottenham too. Just about 10 or so points to go, and why not continue at Old Trafford?
Theo is looking sharp, and the Ox needs time to prove himself. And of course, Iwobi is worthy of his FIFA Golden Boy nomination, and can be apt in aiding us at United.
So whilst United have plusses, we also have many and Jose/United know this. Ultimately, it may come down to which manager gets it right tactically, and which set of players are up for it more. I believe if we can match the tactical battle, we can win this, or at the very least avoid defeat in it. A loss wouldn’t be a disaster, as we would be a few points behind Chelsea/Liverpool, and Spurs will be closer to us, but then it’s only November and a lot of football is to come. A draw isn’t also a disaster, since United arguably need the win more than we do.
I believe if we get it right tactically, and can match their desire, we can get a positive result.
PREDICTION – Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal
As stated, a draw would be positive, and not leave us out of touch too much at the top. Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Spurs will continue to drop points.