It’s early kick off time at the Emirates, and United’s meeting with the Gunners couldn’t have come at a better time. Arsenal have been in underwhelming form — yes, I know, form matters little during a game of this magnitude — while United have been kicking up a few gears in the league whilst also applying the brakes at times. The fact is, though, we still are scoring a lot of goals, whilst Arsenal have lost their first choice strike pair to injury and suspension.
Before previewing today’s game, let me inform you that I was interviewed by Arsenal Insider ahead of today’s game. Here’s an excerpt:
PGL: Wenger has launched an attack on the standard of tackling in the Prem. This fixture used to be full of blood and thunder but it has become a more free-flowing fixture since the departures of Keane and Viera. You see Ronadlo kicked up and down the pitch every weekend, do you think Arsene has a point?
RR: Wenger has a point to some extent. But the league has always been physical. I think all managers sing a certain tune based on the way their players get treated on the pitch. Ferguson rants about Ronaldo not getting protection, while Wenger seems to think the whole league is on a conspiracy to injure his team. He may have a point but, at the end of the day, creative players will get kicked; the better teams will be hustled by the mediocre.
It’s how one learns to deal with it that would separate the Champion from the chasing pack. That’s something Fergie has learned but, fortunately or unfortunately, your manager hasn’t — and it appears increasingly so.
You can read the rest here, as I talk about Fergie, Wenger, United’s last season and today’s game.
Right, back to United, and there is quite some material for you to read through if you are looking to while away the time. David Lacey, on the Guardian, has a piece on the increasing significance of Berbatov to our season. For a United fan, and a regular commenter on RR, most of the points relating to the Bulgarian’s importance to United’s attack have already been discussed to death. But it’s still an article worth a read.
Another development taking place in Manchester lately, which has inspired fan boy behaviour, is the arrival of Maradona at Carrington to meet with Tevez. The likes of Rio Ferdinand (who turned 30) and Rooney were only too eager to snap a picture or two with him.
In the pre-match conference, Ferguson warned the fans against making denigrating Wenger chants, and that such chants should be stamped out of the game:
“I think some of the chants that are being directed towards Arsène Wenger are ridiculous. The police should be doing more. They should be stepping in. But Manchester United and its supporters should also know very well the chants that have been levelled at us over the years – ie songs about Munich [air disaster] – and understand the sensitivity that is felt by members of this club. I don’t agree with it at all. There’s enough to think about and admire in the game without resorting to denigrating people.”
Well they may be denigrating, but then it’s Arsene Wenger, and who wouldn’t want to have fun at the expense of Le Professor!
Brown is injured, and Fletcher remains a doubt. So, a good line up today would be a 4-4-2 with Neville’s experience preferred over the raw Rafael. Brown, to me, would be the ideal person to play this game, but he’s out injured. If Fletcher does not make it, then Anderson will take his place alongside Carrick. I’d also like to see Nani start, although one can’t help but wonder if the likes of Park or Giggs might sneak in. Park, especially, considering he’ll be able to do a lot of running and try to pressure their full backs. Rooney and Berbatov would play up front.
Predictions: 2-1 to United.
Come on you reds!!!
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