09 December 2010

ManUnited vs Arsenal: PREVIEW

The United vs. Arsenal match on Monday will be a battle as intense as ever. If the rumors are to be believed, the two sides have already faced each other many times this season, though for signing new players. The Utd-Arsenal match is always a heated affair, with both managers getting more competitive with age and their desire for trophies seems to be ever growing. Even though Arsenal haven’t won a trophy since 2005, their youth finally looks like they could repay their manager with a piece of silverware for his continued belief in them.

On the pitch, this will be their first meeting since United thrashed Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates last season. Arsenal are the current table toppers, one point ahead of United but having played a match more than them. United’s match last weekend was called off because of unplayable conditions at the Blackpool stadium. This allowed Arsene Wenger’s side to go on the top of the premier league table.

Both teams are at their best and after winning their respective matches in the Champions League to qualify for the next round, brimming with confidence. United are still unbeaten in the league but have drawn far too many games for their liking. Arsenal, on the other hand, have tasted defeat against West Brom, Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham. What’s even more worrying for them is that 3 out of 4 losses have been at home. The two sides have had an almost similar start to the season, with Chelsea dominating in the early stages. But now, after making full use of Chelsea’s slip-ups, the clubs are on the 1st and 2nd spot in the league.

Both teams go into the match with a sense of rejuvenation following the return of their star strikers from long term injury troubles. Wayne Rooney is yet to score a goal from open play but has looked sharper and fitter since his return from US. Robin Van Persie too is yet to regain his top form. But these are the kind of players who just need a sniff at goal to regain their top form and once they reach their prime, they turn into a defender’s nightmare.

Also, both the teams might go in without their main playmakers. Paul Scholes missed the Valencia match due to injury and Cesc Fabregas too missed his team’s last few matches because of an injury he picked up against Braga. Though, United’s Anderson and Arsenal’s Samir Nasri have looked like they could easily fill in the void left by the two playmakers. Both scored a goal in their midweek Champions League fixture to take their side into the knockout round.

Comparing the two teams, apart from defense, where United have a stronghold, the teams are almost similar in their approach, with both the managers showing ample faith in their youth. Though in defense, Vidic and Rio form a formidable pair, something that Arsenal lack and the injury to their main man Vermaelen has done nothing to improve the situation. Also, the young defender K.Gibbs got injured playing against Partizan and had to be substituted in the 30th minute. United seem to have finally settled their back four with Rafael, Vidic, Rio and Evra making it difficult for any player to go past them. Between the posts, Van Der Sar is still the best in the premier league. His ability to spot the players making a run is unmatched and he’s a player United are going to miss the most once he decides to retire. Fabianski seems to have taken over Almunia for Arsenal and apart from a few hiccups, his performances have been satisfactory. In the midfield, Nani and Park have been consistently playing well and scoring goals for United. Ryan Giggs has regained his fitness and that’s a good news for them. Fletcher might be fit to play after facing an injury. Arsenal have an unlikely hero in Alexis Song who has scored a few important goals this season, along with Nasri and Arshavin, the Russian winger who has scored against United in the past. Chamakh has looked like the buy-of-the-season and has been chipping in goals ever since his arrival in the EPL. For United, the return of Rooney has helped Berbatov and the duo celebrated their return as partners with a 7 goal haul against Blackburn, Berba scoring 5 of them.

Last season, United won both fixtures. The match at OT ended at 2-1 win for United, but it was decided by Abu Diaby’s header into his own net, trying to clear a Ryan Giggs’ free-kick. The match at Emirates was a rather one sided affair with United winning by a comfortable 3-1, thanks to two quick first half goals by Nani and Rooney and a third goal in the second half by Ji Sung Park. Nani’s performance in that match was described as “his best-ever” by Sir Alex Ferguson who would be hoping that the Portugese would produce another such display this time too.

All in all, an even affair and the fans can expect a thriller at Old Trafford. I go with a 2-0 victory for United with Rooney scoring both the goals. Drop in your predictions and keep humming,

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