Arsenal visit OT after a run of brutally demoralising results against us and a Chelsea side that was gutted only three days prior.
United play Arsenal with the knowledge that they don’t need to win, but this current side, with the awareness of making things easier, by winning it today and cooling their heels against Hull, drilled into them by the manager would know better than to relax today.
Or so, one would hope.
I am not really sure how cracking this encounter is going to be; one side with everything to play for while the other with nothing — not even pride, surely — to play for.
United’s dominance of Arsenal over the two legs of the Champions’ League, and Arsenal’s performances against the bigger opponents — so to speak — have had such an effect that, today will be perceived more of a victory march with the North London team reduced to a sideshow that must be surely painful for their fans.
It hasn’t been really good for the Gunners this season, and that United fans have expressed a lot of sympathy for Arsenal fans and their manager is more because of their status this season as an also ran, more than United fan arrogance.
But adversity can cause managers to say strange things. Benitez has been firm in his assertion that United have not been the best team in the league. He also says the last two games of the season must be played at the same time — like they do back home in Spain.
Tomorrow he’ll decide to say head to head record must be considered over goal difference — like they do back home in Spain.
And in a few months he’ll say siestas should be introduced in afternoon matches during half time — like they do back home in Spain. It will give players more energy to come back rejuvenated for the second half, he’d argue.
Wenger meanwhile says this has been Arsenal’s best season in recent times if you just disregard the situation they had in December, the Gallas injury, Toure and Gallas hating each other, injuries, the lack of a Flamini-type player, injuries, the lack of a good ‘keeper, injuries, and the last season, and injuries. But for all these setbacks, Arsenal have had their best season since their unbeaten season. In fact, if you disregard the games they drew and lost, they have gone an entire season winning all their games, the professor would say, but wouldn’t because the reporter cut him off in mid-speech.
Right, enough fooling around.
Fergie talked about resting some players owing to the tiring day’s work that Wigan away was — thanks, in no small part, to the heavy pitch. I think it’s better Fergie plays his best possible team — whatever that means — and do the business before sending the reserves against Hull.
I’d play Fletcher, Anderson and Carrick in midfield. Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez up front, with Vida, Evans, Evra, O’Shea and EVDS at the back. I’m sure, when the team sheet comes out, I’d have got most of that wrong.
Meanwhile Ferguson questions Gerrard’s award in the writers’ choice player of the year. He plumps for Vidic, but then this is a writers’ award and Ferguson is no writer — unless there is a magnum opus on chewing gum and turning red-faced hidden somewhere in some dusty crevice, waiting to be unleashed upon us — and we all know the difference in perspective writers and managers have on the game. Me? I am not losing sleep over why Gerrard won the award. All that matters to me now is, Gerrard = 0 Premiership titles (but next year will be the year, surely)
Prediction: 2-1 to United — there’s no way we’re going to have a clean sheet on either side today. Hopefully, Rio is fit for the final.
Come on ya reds!!!!
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