I don’t know whether it’s because it’s early in the morning and I’m still tired, having had a few jars in the city last night and not returning home until 1am, but as I write this pre match preview blog I don’t feel as nervous as I usually do about today’s away trip to Old Trafford.
I can’t think why that is, because there certainly are plenty of reasons to be terrified, so perhaps it’s just the alcohol still in my system numbing the senses.
Yes we’ve go in to this game in better form and yes, this season Mourinho hasn’t exactly been able to turn United into a team bltizkreiging their way through the league right from the start of the season, like he’s done with Chelski. But when you look at the history that’s pretty much when the positive signs disappear for us.
Our record in the last year is nothing short of diaorea-infused brown pants with speckles of vomit and traces of blood. It’s woeful. We’ve gone ten years without an away win and when all of the signals pointed to us finally killing those demons last season, we flunked the test big time. United were on heir knees with form and injury as a team and we were supposedly fighting for the title, but we bottled it big time, which does make you wonder about the psychological disadvantage that their stadium might hold on our players.
I can’t think why. I mean, as a team they’ve gone everywhere domestically in the last four or five seasons and won, even at Chelski, but Old Trafford seems to have the Indian sign.
So too does that degenerate manager of theirs have the Indian sign too. He knows how to set up a team to stop Arsenal playing and more often than not, get a result against us, so I’m expecting him to apply the way tactics as every season that we’ve one of his sides. Especially given the injuries and suspensions that his side has.
United are missing Bailly, Smelling and Ibrahimovich, with the latter out for picking up too many yellows, but that won’t make them any less potent I don’t think. They’ll most likely go with pace in attack to hit us, so I’m fully expecting Mourinho to tell his team to try to defend well and hit us with rapid pace on the counter through Martial, Rashford and Mata. Whether Rooney plays remains to be seen, but he has traditionally loved a goal against us, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him start and have a blinder.
They also might be missing Fellaini which, if true, will be a bit of a boost because he’s been an elbowy thorn in our side in some of the recent games against us.
The other player I always feel has a blinder when we play United is Phil Jones. Kind of like how Darren Fletcher used to always get drafted in and always used to play well against us. Jones is fit and most likely to partner Blind or Rojo in central defence, so whilst it’s a makeshift side, expect some of those players out of form to have absolute blinders today.
As for us, we’re all sweating on the fitness of Alexis. Having him up top would give us more pace and movement and in previous years when we’ve lacked a little bit of that when visiting United, I hope that he and Walcott both play and both show the kind of form we’ve seen from them this season. Theo wasn’t particularly great against The Tiny Totts I didn’t think, but his new found love for defensive work will be a blessing for Carl Jenkinson, who will need more support given the difference in recovery pace between him and Bellerin.
I thought we looked a little inhibited against Spurs a couple of weeks ago, perhaps with the occasion getting to us, so my hope is that we don’t see that today. If we do, despite United’s form, we can be roasted by them and have done in the past.
I can’t predict an Arsenal win, not with our record, but I can hope for it. If I’m completely honest with you I’d take a draw right now and look to start picking up wins against PSG and Bournemouth next weekend.
Come on Arsenal, please get rid of this flipping awful record, and let’s start dreaming that might actually be able to compete for the league.