20 November 2014

Has van Gaal much to prove vs Arsenal?

Arsenal vs Manchester United
Saturday, 1730 GMT

All eyes on Louis van Gaal who is yet to win against a big team in the Premier League so far.
Manchester United are to face an in-form Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday. The stellar game kicks off at 17.30 (GMT standard) and is one of the more important games to be played this weekend if not the entire season.

After a two week international duty break, one would have thought United's injury worries will be alleviated, however, the issue has only deepened as Daley Blind and David de Gea (doubtful) and Michael Carrick (doubtful) join the list of the players currently out injured: Phil Jones, Marcus Rojo, Johny Evans, Daley Blind, Ashley Young and Radamel Falcao. 

Arsenal vs Manchester United fixture has always been a talking point and this season is unlike any other. Corporations like Sky Sports have profited from games of this magnitude by rolling out services such as Sky Sports HD and Sky Sports 3D on this very fixture in different seasons earlier.

Moving focus to the big game on Saturday. 
The game is equally important for both the clubs which are struggling to hit peak form with only one point separating them. United are below Arsenal and both teams desperately need to win to climb up in the premier league table. Both Arsenal and United have won just four out of their 11 games this season. It is shocking to observe Southampton way clear of United by 9 points.

In the last 14 games that United and Arsenal have played, Arsenal has only won once (the 2011 season) and lost 10, drawing 3. Can this game extend United's lead over their once-arch-rivals? Well maybe not, considering their current away form. United is yet to win a single game away from Old Trafford this season. That is absolutely poor and I do not recall such an occurrence since the time I started following Manchester United (the 2006-2007 season). 

Manchester United's recent form has been rather encouraging as the last 6 fixtures saw MUFC winning three of their four victories in total (in the Premier League). The victories came against teams like West Ham, Everton and Crystal Palace. Saturday evening's test is a first realistic wake up call for a potential top four finish. They simply cannot give points away now!

Has Louis van Gaal justified being a manager of a Great British football club? 
Another critical topic of discussion is the adaptability of Louis van Gaal to the English game. His ego and no-nonsense approach at the press conferences has been widely acclaimed to be like Sir Alex Ferguson, but has he really got SAF's mettle? 

Source: Wikipedia 
The Dutchman's career has seen him move between various clubs. However, he achieved most of his success at Ajax and I'm sure he won't be a happy man if he compares it to his current United form. 

One thing that I absolutely admire about van Gaal though is his habit of giving youngsters a chance. Paddy McNair and Tyler Blackett, who still play for U-21 MUFC teams, wouldn't have been given a first team appearance by David Moyes, United's previous manager. 

Winning 4 games out of a possible 12 clearly isn't a big deal at all and signals that LvG is clearly a slow adapter to change. United's injury problem has not allowed LvG to settle down. Having said that, if Jonny Evans and Phil Jones were game fit, I doubt if even LvG would have picked Blackett or McNair but the point is the man's tendency of favouring the youth is good and will be liked by the United faithful. He has done this at all the clubs he has managed so far and it is good to see him carrying it to Manchester too.

However, just like any other United fan, I am disappointed on not seeing Juan Mata in the Playing XI too often. The fact that he was bought to address United's midfield woes last season doesn't seem to affect the gaffer who clearly doesn't favour him and always ends up playing Rooney in the no. 10 position. Watching the Spaniard rot on the bench is very annoying. This issue needs to be resolved by van Gaal sooner rather than later, else we might see Juan Mata switch clubs come summer transfer window. 

10 games on, Moyes v Van Gaal, who wins?

Well, it doesn't really matter. One should look at the big picture and I do not see it developing well as of now. The above picture sums up my concern. I am clearly worried about the spending spree of Manchester United in the last 2 transfer windows. 6 new players were brought in costing nearly £30m per player (excluding Falcao's loan deal). Yet, it is disappointing to see United not performing to the standards they should be. 

2.1 : Final thoughts about the game vs Arsenal. 
Well, United simply cannot afford to lose this one, so we predict it will be a 2-1 win for United with Rooney and Sanchez both on target.

Just how much time does the Dutchman need to stabilise his Red Army in Manchester? Will United finish top 4 in the Barclays Premier League? Feel free to share your thoughts below. 
Make yourself heard people!
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