Hoping for a new lease on life with our new head-coach, Arsenal gets 2020 rolling with a Premier League clash against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.
With both clubs under the guidance of former players, Mikel Arteta and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows all about the hostilities and the grit that goes with one of the league’s long standing rivalries.
Happy New Years all! For Arteta, who is just starting his managerial journey, there would be fewer memories as sweet as getting your maiden victory against an old enemy, however, he would prefer it not to have come to this.
Picking up just one point from his opening two games hasn’t been the ideal start for the Spaniard, but with the players looking like they’re buying into his ideas, as well as his demand for increased work-ethic, there certainly are much to be encouraged about. His primary expectancies now are better awareness and pacing of our intensity throughout the 90, so we can get our season going.
For a club of Arsenal’s standing to end 2019 on a run of just one win in 15 games (all competitions) is concerning, but we are by no means a sinking ship. It will just take the efforts of all involved pulling in the same direction; ie the players continue doing what is expected of them and the clubs chiefs giving Arteta their full backing.
Look, the general view is that there are no quick fixes, with that fans also need to slow down with the fear-mongering and exercise a bit more patience, because that is what Arteta is going to need to rebuild this team back into a functioning unit. The buzzword going forward has to be synergy.
It’s almost unbelievable, just thinking about it, that less than a month ago Arsenal was above Manutd on the log, but thanks to a strong run in December they enter the new year more promising; 7 pts clear of us and 4 pts off top-four. In their last nine league games they were on the losing side just once (W5, D3) and scored a whopping 19 goals.
They certainly got a good run against the top teams this season, beating Chelsea, Leicester, Man City and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as being the only side to take points off Liverpool. So one can almost forgive pundits for predicting the Red Devils to inflict misery on the Gunners, however, Ole will be the first to tell you that form means little against this old foe. Last season when he took over they went on a three-month, 12-match unbeaten run that came to an end with their last trip to the Emirates. Which make looking forward to this match just that more appetizing.
Arsenal face a defensive crisis with Calum Chambers now joining Sead Kolasinac, Hector Bellerìn, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding on the sidelines. Additionally Sokratis is out with concussion.
Gabriel Martinelli and Dani Ceballos could make the matchday squad and Granit Xhaka, whom Arteta said missed the last game with illness amidst ongoing transfer speculation, could return to the starting lineup.
On current form, league position and confidence the Red Devils are sure favourites, but the Gunners certainly played much better than our last two results. What let us down most has been our finishing because we created more than enough chances. So once that’s sorted everything else will be minor irritations.
Manutd kept only one clean sheet in their last nine league games and conceded 12 goals. So if we continue creating those chances but also have our scoring boots on…. Mikel could pop his cherry with a memorable win.