Good day one all.
With three wins on the spin, in as many competitions, Arsenal go up against Manchester United at Old Trafford with renewed optimism and exciting young players making their return to the side following long injury spells.
Look, we can all agree that there are underlying issues with how the Gunners play but things aren’t exactly scorched earth. We are still going at top-four pace, thanks to flaws elsewhere in the Premier League. So let’s forget about the mind-numbing Vicarage Road trip and even the first hour vs Aston Villa. The last 20 or so minutes of that game our boys had a real bite in them and showed a lot of heart as they dug real for that win. A few unlikely heroes led the charge and that is the sort of character we can all get behind despite our differences in opinion of coach Unai Emery.
I’m not gonna pretend all is well because the lack of defensive organization is glaring. There’s also a fear that we may become as reliant on Bernd Leno and we are on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. I just think if the coach would focus on taking games to the opposition instead of being “scared” there’s lots to be excited about. I can admit I had doubts but after seeing those returning players… Both Rob Holding and Calum Chambers don’t seem afflicted by a susceptibility for liability. Together with Kieran Tierney, who had an encouraging first game, and flaming Hector Bellerín they could provide a secure base for our attackers to perform. This Gunners side is not short of talent and if Emery find a workable formula and just take the handbrake off already… watch this space.
These of course are grim times for Manutd. With just two wins in their last 11 league games Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is feeling the heat. His bosses have spent the most on transfers in the PL this summer so one can imagine he’s under pressure to turnaround their fortunes.
In many ways these teams are like two sides of the same coin. The Red Devils look strong defensively, before the shock defeat to West Ham last weekend they conceded just four goals in five league outings, but are underwhelming going forward, scoring four in that last five. While the Gunners got goals in them but also have an embarrassing reputation of conceding rather silly.
Manutd’s attacking woes are further compounded with both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial currently struggling with injuries and Paul Pogba a doubt. Meaning OGS could put his hopes on youngsters Daniel James and Mason Greenwood to trouble our defense.
These teams met three times last season. Our Old Trafford trip ended in a 2-2 draw as the hosts came back twice from a goal down. They beat us 3-1 in the FA Cup during the ‘Solskjaer renaissance’. We, of course, got our revenge with a 2-0 win at the Emirates late in the season.
In recent years this old rivalry is far from the top-of-the-table encounters of yore, however, it’s never short of drama and consequence as this already got that a feel of being pivotal to both’s top-four ambitions. A win will move Arsenal within two points of free scoring Mancity (second on the table) and leave Manutd in the bottom half of the table – and Ole losing grip on the wheel.
The Gunners haven’t won a league game at Old Trafford since autumn of 2006 though and whatever Manutd’s form, or lack thereof, their players are at their best on the most intense occasions. Whilst they’re currently looking all out of sorts and not the most relentless attacking side, our organization and focus at the back still has to be on point if we want to have any joy.
This is such a difficult game to call for various reason, but if ever Arsenal want to break their Old Trafford hoodoo as well as getting a first away win against top-six opposition under Unai Emery, there’s no better time than the present.
May we make this one count. COYG!