I think it was about this time last year that Man United visited The Emirates and Mourinho was a few days away from an important Europa League tie, which meant rotation for his team and a beating by the Arsenal players, Arsene’s first victory over the Portuguese and Mourinho snidely palmed it off by making comments that clearly showed he couldn’t give a sh*t about the game.
And so to this year, in which the roles are reversed and Arsene takes his team to Old Trafford in a game that, quite frankly, means absolutely nothing to us. Which is just as well because our record at Old Trafford in the league has been abysmal for the last ten year’s. We have lost or drawn (mostly lost) our last 11 games at Old Trafford and the last time Arsene tasted victory in this fixture was in 2006, when Adebayor scored a contentious handball.
There has been some humiliating defeats, some unfair defeats, some expected defeats, but this fixture usually only ends one way. And given it has no significance for Arsenal this season I expect nothing less than defeat for the team today, because a) their minds will be on Thursday night’s impossible task away to Atletico, and b) the team that takes to the field this afternoon should be rotated to within an inch of its life.
So for me I’d play Cech (only because we know Ospina will play on Thursday – i’d probably have Ospina playing today and Cech on Thursday, but we know that isn’t going to happen) in goal, a back four of Maitland-Niles, Holding, Chambers and Kolasinac. In midfield it would be Xhaka and Willock, with a three in front of them of Nelson, Iwobi and probably Welbeck. The reason I’d be playing Welbeck is that I think Mkhitaryan should be given about 20 minutes this afternoon to prove his fitness, then he plays on Thursday night ahead of the England international. Also there is little other options for the team, unless he goes for Nketiah as a wide forward, which could also be an option. Upton it simple has to be Aubameyang but I’m expecting slim pickings from this game from an Arsenal attacking perspective, so it’s a game for the Gabonese international more because he can’t play on Thursday than anything else.
United will be at full strength because they’re at the point where resting anyone makes no sense given their cup final is about three week’s away, so I think they’ll go full strength and given how often ex-Arsenal players score against us, expect Alexis to be on the scoresheet today.
Also expect the United fans to god and insult Wenger as much as possible, because it’s their last chance of doing so and they are not a collective of fans who would give the man a good send off., so I expect some disgusting ‘paedophile’ chants or other such insults to be rife from the bunch of scummers that they are. Then expect Mourinho to have some kind of snide and underhand comment to make before the end of this day is done. It’s in his DNA.
I don’t really know what else to talk about because it matters little. We’re probably losing this but I couldn’t give a damn. I think this is the most unappealing Man United vs Arsenal game I’ve ever seen in my 35 year’s on this planet. There’s part of me that is wondering if my afternoon could be better spent doing other things and not even bothering watching the football, which is unheard of in my house and I think The Management was genuinely quite taken aback when I mentioned the prospect of it yesterday evening. Of course I’ll end up switching the TV over at 4.30pm though, I just know I will, so I’ll not pretend to you dear readers that I won’t have a few things to say tomorrow about the performance.
But at least it won’t affect me like the home game. That home game earlier in the season really knocked me for six. I expect us to lose at Old Trafford and I expect us to not have the fates on our side, but the way in which we lost gave me the same feelings of being just so very gutted, that last Thursday night’s game did. It was a massive metaphorical punch in the gut and I kid you not – it took me a couple of week’s to get the United match out of my system because we were just so good that day and didn’t get the justice that our attacking play deserved. It had a similar feel to Thursday’s game though; amazing ‘keeper performance, profligate attacking from Arsenal, some calamitous defending leading to sucker punch goals against us.
So today’s game will mean little either way because I’m still reeling from Thursday and if we taste defeat on Thursday like I am expecting us to, then i’ll be stewing on it even more, which is more than you can say about today’s result.
I guess you could say that football is an 11v11 game and anything can happen over the course of around 95 minutes today though. That’s pretty much all of the analysis and hope I can put into today’s fixture. Which I have no problem with.
What about you? Could you give a damn about today?