We face a Utd team buoyed by seven victories from seven under their new manager, with 19 goals scored and 4 conceded in that run. A number of players, notably Pogba and Rashford, have been thriving since Mourinho’s exit and ,presumably, enter the match with sky high confidence.
However, it cannot be ignored that the fixture list, or maybe mr Woodward, has been kind to Ole in this early stage of his tenure : only one of the games has been against a *spits* top club, and the rest have been against more modest opposition, with all 5 league opponents coming from bottom 9 teams in league currently, including 3 of current bottom 4, and 3 of those fixtures at home for them.
But *spits* Spurs, in what was billed as their first big test, they passed, with all three points. if memory serves correctly it was a good open game for much of first half, with Utd possessing a huge countering threat and the extra boldness, freedom and decisiveness Solskjaer has given to the team’s attacking players. In Rashford, Pogba and Martial in particular they possess serious speed, athleticism and quality for exploiting spaces, turnovers and any lack of numbers in defence. Gulp.
The timing of our game with them is interesting because they have not yet been made to pay for their new more adventurous approach : Mourinho may have failed miserably there, but he had not suddenly become an idiot. He was too cautious, certainly, for both lovers of the real beautiful game, and considering the options at his disposal. His caution and all the manifestations of it were not detached from reality, though. ‘Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you’ applies to all known formations and philosophies within football. Someone is going to exploit Ole’s style soon, quite possibly forcing a reaction, and hopefully that can be us.
Now then- how will we play? My first two thoughts were ‘don’t play into their hands by allowing them huge space to counter in’ and ‘we’d probably better go at them’. Not quite a massive contradiction, but pretty close, and a hint why the management lark isn’t easy. I guess I stand by the first thought more than the second : I believe we have to go at them; but I also believe we really have to try not to play into the hands of a team with such countering weapons. I’d be happy to feel the game out for at least 15 mins and be very focused on not allowing an early break.
So that’s how, sort of, and now to who. Not a clue. I suspect Ozil will start, and think he might just be perfect for exploiting this new, as-yet-unconquered Utd system, supposing they don’t add an extras hustling type in centre mid or sit much deeper. Safe to say, there aren’t many like Ozil, and so this Utd have not faced his kind, and it seems possible he is precisely the type of player the new set up may be vulnerable to. Fingers crossed.
Elsewhere…it all seems hard to predict for me. Unlike with his predecessor, I am not sure where Emery stands in terms of prioritising competitions. If this is our 3rd priority, will the lineup reflect this, or does he more or less pick a team without consideration for what follows? I’ll guess it’s somewhere in between. In which case, maybe rests for both Kos and Kola, with an outside chance of Mavropanos coming in.
Anyway, formations schmations, it’s Utd at home in the cup. We will find out almost instantly if Ole is a true Ferguson man. A fairish ferocious contest, or pure filth. If he brings our friend Rojo- who must have played about 10% of his Utd total against us- in from the cold we have our answer before kick off.
I’m excited and don’t have a clue how it is likely to go. If I try overcome my lily-livered pre game pessimism then that leaves me with a still nervous 50: 50 feeling, same as before Chelsea, and West Ham.