It feels like a long time ago when Manchester United thrashed Arsenal at Old Trafford 8-2.
This was the statement game that United made early in the 2011/2012 season on their way to winning the title. Today, it seems as if the roles are now reversed.
Arsenal at that time came into that game wounded missing many players, and Arsene Wenger under pressure for not making any marquee signings to strengthen his squad.
Wenger at the time was forced to put in Armand Traore and Carl Jenkinson in defense, while giving Francis Coquelin his debut for the club. On paper it was hardly a team that was supposed to strike fear into the champions. In this game, Ashley Young was the star of the show, making a huge impact after signing with United from Aston Villa where he led the Premiere League in assists.
Oh how things have changed so dramatically since then. Yes, United is still the defending champions of England but they do not come into this contest with the same confidence that they may have had in the past. The roles are changed with Arsenal at the top of the league currently with 25 points and United sitting at 8th with 17 points.
Arsenal is coming off a wonderful road win at the Westfalenstadion where the Gunners stole 3 points away from Borrussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
On the other hand, United come home from Spain with a dull 0-0 draw away at Real Sociedad. But its more than that, Wenger has his team running on all cylinders at the moment without loosing in ten games. With the signing of Mesut Ozil and the terrific form of Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal come into this game with nothing to fear. Ramsey has now scored 11 goals for the season. He has scored 11 goals in the past 5 seasons combined which is a remarkable stat when you think about it.
If United are to win this game on Sunday they will need to put pressure on Arsenal’s midfield, especially on Mikel Arteta and must attack quickly on the counter attack. This is possible if Moyes decides to start Adnan Januzaj and Shinji Kagawa on the flanks. United will most likely concede the majority of possession to Arsenal, but what’s important is what they do with the ball when they have it. Arsenal are very dynamic going forward and with a possible attacking group of Carzola, Ozil, Rosicky, and Giroud. United will have to limit the time and space that these players will have.
Patrice Evra and Raphael will need to be tactically disciplined and must be weary not to be caught too high up the pitch when United loose possession. This leaves most of the work to Michael Carrick and either Tom Cleverly or Marouane Fellaini. They will have the key role of not only protecting the back 4, but also quickly passing forward to the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie and catching the Gunners with their players out of position.
This will be a tactical chess match between Wenger and Moyes.
At this point of the season I give the advantage to the Arsenal manager. One detriment on David Moyes’ managerial history is that in the real big games it looks as if his teams would rather play not to lose instead of pushing forward for a win. This is one of the main differences between him and Sir Alex Ferguson who is known as a high stakes poker player that would do anything to win a futbol match. So here lies another test for Moyes. Will he sink or swim? A win for United could show that United are back on track after a slow start and are in position to make their patented run towards the top of the league.
A loss would again raise questions about whether Moyes is fit for the job, and could see one of United’s most hated rivals expand their lead on a possible run for the Barclays English Premiere League title.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks