Can Gunners get their head right to beat Man United?

Nervy times ahead, nervy times indeed. The Gunners take on their old arch rivals Manchester United tonight at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarter finals and Arsenal fans can be forgiven for not feeling overly optimistic. On paper the Gunners have every chance of getting something from the game despite the facts showing the last meaningful victory at Old Trafford was quite some time away. The current Manchester United team with all due respect is one of the worst in recent times, not that I am saying the team is awful but in comparison to some of the teams we have become accustomed to experiencing during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure this current crop fall way short of those standards.

My argument falls flat when I highlight the failings of Manchester United yet they are well in the mix for a top four finish and have walked away from Emirates with three points under their belt this season. The tie is evenly balanced however the home advantage pushes the odds in favor of the Red Devils. The victory that Arsenal pulled off at the Etihad earlier in the season exhibited that there is a big away performance in them against the bigger clubs.

united beat afc

The psychological hold that Manchester United has over Arsenal cannot be ignored. When it really matters the Gunners haven’t risen to the occasion and more often than not and have let United walk away victorious. For Arsenal to come away from Old Trafford with a victory (Or a draw) it really depends on what team turns up tonight. At times when Arsenal have had their backs to the wall after a bad performance when fans, pundits et al have written them off they have responded with the types of performances that leave you scratching your head wondering why those performances are not more consistently churned out.

I believe one of Arsenal’s biggest Achilles heels is complacency, being able to motivate their selves to pull off a high intensive level of performance when things are going well. The fight is replaced with a swagger and cockiness which they struggle to switch off when things don’t go their way, the swagger soon turns to panic and loss of composure and before you know it there’s too much mess to be undone within the 90 minutes. The Monaco game is a good example of such self-implosion.

Playing against Manchester United shouldn’t require much motivation for the players, it’s a massive game but it is hoped the Arsenal come out with all guns blazing. This is the type of game where the energy of Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky needs to be matched by their team mates. When the Arsenal are firing on all cylinders there aren’t many teams that can stand toe to toe, they just need to believe in their abilities, understand what is at stake and take the game to United.

The pantomime distraction of Robin Van Persie will not play a factor due to his current injury which is a massive boost. That’s not to say there aren’t equal threats from the United side, Rooney always has the knack of scoring in this fixture and even Falcao found the net during pre-season against the Gunners however Van Persie is the one you would expect to be the greater threat given his ties to the club.


Goal threats aside composure in front of goal is vital, Olivier Giroud is in a rich vein of form and will need to maintain that to beat United’s biggest match winner David De Gea. This season the Spaniard has saved United’s bacon in so many games this season that no chances can afford to be wasted when they arise. Danny Welbeck is due a goal and if he starts i hope he can get one over his former teammate, that really would be the icing on the cake.
There is a lot at stake tonight, the FA Cup is a realistic possibility for the winners of this tie. I may have slight nerves for the game but i do have a lot of belief in the capabilities of the Arsenal to pull off a big win. Come on you Gunners!!

Enjoy your day people.
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Arsenal are Still in the Title Hunt Despite Man United Draw

It’s been a tough few days for Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger. On Saturday lunchtime, he witnessed his team’s most lacklustre performance since that day at Old Trafford in 2011, and four days later had to suffer the frustration of failing to break down Manchester United at the Emirates.
afc mancs
We always knew mid-February could define our season and, with a 5-1 defeat and 0-0 all we have to show for it so far, an air of pessimism has percolated into the minds of fans. Indeed, Arsenal’s title odds have soared from 3/1 to 8/1  on some football betting websites.
The squad have received most of this ire, with below-par Mesut Ozil a particular target, but Wenger himself has come in for criticism in the live football commentary for his failure to sign players in January  when our squad was burning low on fuel.
Sadly, history is history and if we all sit here and moan then we could end up in the situation we were two years ago, when even finishing in the top four was questionable. Let’s appreciate what we’ve got.
And let’s face it, Arsenal are still second in the league, just a point behind the leaders who dropped points against a much weaker team than United, West Brom, on Tuesday. Man City may have a game in hand but, as they say, they’ve still got to win it and, with their congested Champions League schedule, fitting in a home tie with Sunderland will be tough.
Meanwhile, Liverpool and Tottenham’s resurgences are probably just that and, with our three-point buffer over these two clubs, we should have enough to stave them off. So what’s all the complaining about? We’re in a far healthier position right now than we have been for years and both Chelsea and City have shown they are as prone to burnout as we are.
Thankfully, our FA Cup clash with Liverpool on Sunday gives us something different to focus on. It is evident that the stress of the title race gets to teams at some point in the season and we must not forget that we won five league games on the bounce in December/January, a feat that was never realistically going to be kept up.
Enjoy your day people.
Guest post brought to you courtesy of M. Weaver

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Arsenal have only themselves to blame in United draw

After 90 minutes Arsenal fans were left feeling frustrated at the waste of the chance to take all three points against Manchester United at the Emirates yesterday. If offered a point before the game I’m sure most Arsenal fans would take that offer but when the final whistle blew they will have looked back with frustration as Manchester United were gifted their equalizer.

afc v man u

With my rose-tinted glasses off Manchester united were in no way played off the field, they posed a threat on the break throughout and defended well but the goal conceded by the Gunners was easily avoidable. Bacary Sagna did himself no favours with poor concentration gifting the ball to Robin Van Persie, even from that point his error could be atoned however a rush of blood to the head resulted in an unnecessary sliding tackle which ended with Van Persie’s legs taken away and a penalty awarded.

The Arsenal fans groaned in frustration and you could also see on the Arsenal players faces similar emotions after having their hard work undone in a few seconds of madness. The last person Arsenal fans wanted to score in the game got his chance and took it. He didn’t celebrate must like in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford though I’m sure that respect was more directed to his former manager than the fans that once idolised him. He did not need to do anything, The Manchester united fans made sure they rubbed it in with banners highlighting Arsenal’s poor decision last summer with text such as “thanks for RVP”. The same fans that sung year after year about him being a rapist now sing a different song about the man whose goals made the difference for them taking the Premier League title.

Some points from the game yesterday:

Sagna madness

sagna tackle

Bacary Sagna had one of those moments yesterday, that moment everyone who has ever played the game at any level has experienced at least once in their life. When you make the wrong decision in a scenario which if performed 100 times you would do the right thing on the 99 other occasions. You feel stupid, your teammates look at you like you are a moron and you just want the world to swallow you up and take you away from that moment in time. Sagna will certainly have regretted his actions and I’m sure he got a barrel load from his team mates at half time. His game was definitely off for the remainder of the match as errors crept into his performance. The claims for Carl Jenkinson to be promoted to first choice grew stronger and it’s hard to argue as the Englishman has been usurped from the starting eleven despite playing well whenever Sagna has been fit to play. Arsene Wenger has shown some ruthlessness in other positions but has resisted the temptation so far to address the right back role.

Guard of honour

guard of honour

The guard of honour had been talked about all week and received a lot of press coverage. The whole ordeal had been blown well out of proportion, it lasted less than a minute and the players got on with the game. Fans booed as expected, I don’t think the Manchester United players will have sleepless nights about it, Van Persie didn’t milk it. Yes, it isn’t ideal to have to applaud a former player for his feats for a rival, it’s an embarrassment that the board and the manager will have to address but in comparison to the handshake furore of Terry/Bridge and Suarez/Evra it’s a non story to anyone outside of the club. Thank god it’s over and hopefully will never need to be talked about again.

Relaxed QPR

There is always the notion that it’s easier to play against a team with nothing to play for; I actually feel there’s more potential for a banana skin in such games. Arsenal travel to freshly relegated QPR for their next game and on paper it looks like a straightforward victory for the Gunners. With nothing to play for why would QPR even be bothered with the outcome? It is for that very reason that a carefree team playing with no pressure can be a massive threat. Arsenal does have something to play for and nerves can creep into their performance. I actually believe if they were not relegated and needed points to salvage chances of survival the psychological mindset of the QPR players would have been all over the place and played into the hands of the Gunners. With no pressure and there being a Spurs connection in their team I am pretty sure any points will be hard earned.

Enjoy your day people.

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Some points to address. Part 1 – AFC

It’s a new week, can we put the events from Saturday behind us? oh, well it was worth a try. The dust has settled only partially and many questions have been raised. The fans are still pissed (pardon my French) and want answers. How do we move on from this? We went into the game with a point to prove, that the team that turned up last year were a team in turmoil but now we have our house in order. In all honesty if Man United weren’t so wasteful they could have scored a similar amount of goals as last year.

I have a few points that I would like addressed. Of course I don’t have direct contact with Mr Wenger and so I don’t expect my point to go any further than you the reader but feel free to agree/disagree.

Where was Gnabry?

Now given the injuries we currently have to our more pacy options in the wide role such as the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho. One of the glaringly obvious points from the game was the distinct lack of pace in attack to really stretch the man united back line. Walcott virtually ruled himself out of that role due to his campaign to be played in a central striking position. So that left us with no real options of pace on the flank. Serge Gnabry has been included in the previous few premier league squads, he is young and raw but those qualities were probably exactly what would have been required from the bench to get at Evra or Rafael. I don’t know the full details of his non inclusion and he may well be nursing an injury from the midweek game against Reading but if not maybe he should have been considered.

You only need to look over at Liverpool and Raheem Sterling as proof that a 17 year old can make things happen. Gnabry would have been a good option.

Aaron Ramsey has been criticized for his contribution on the right hand side but in fairness that’s not his natural position. Wenger had asked him to play a role there mainly because his options were limited. He tried but in reality Ramsey was easily contained out on the right and rarely threatened from that position. I mentioned Walcott earlier and his inclusion in the team could also been determined by his 120 min involvement in midweek along with Arshavin. Gnabry played around 60 mins and would not have been suffering from the same level of fatigue if any. Some of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s real standout games last season when he was coming to prominence were in the high profile matches against both Manchester clubs. Could Gnabry have introduced himself to the watching public with a virtuoso display against united? That’s a question we will never know the answer to but some food for thought.

Time for Podolski to play as a striker.

At present the waiting list at Arsenal to play in the central striking position seems as heavily congested as our very own season ticket waiting list. We have players who don’t look the part scoring goals there, players who look the part not scoring quite enough; players who want to play there using their contract as ransom and then players who may get a chance due to capital one cup form. The funny thing is even when you account for the plentiful options for the position we still seem to be lacking a predatory striker that would scare the opposition and the fans would gamble all their earnings on scoring for the club at times of need. In my opinion no one striker has fully convinced in that position so far for us this season. The issue was slightly overlooked due to the number of goals being shared around the team earlier in the season. We almost believed that having a more all round team would help banish the ghost of Robin van Persie once and for all. What it all boils down to at the end of the day is defenders fear prolific strikers, the opposing manager has the conundrum of whether to pay more attention to the prolific striker or not. When more attention is made to that striker it can open up opportunities for other members of the team to exploit, if the opposing team chooses to ignore his threat then they end up punished when he finds the space to score goals. We need a striker like that, we may have that striker on our books in Giroud but he is still adapting to the premiership and right now is not that player yet. The question is do we wait until he becomes that player or explore more options in the meantime. I say there is no harm in trying the option of Podolski in that position. Can he play there? There’s only one way to find out.

If my memory serves me right Podolski was tried there in our season opener against Sunderland which finished 0-0 but never graced the central role again. I feel he is an excellent finisher who would take chances if presented with them. No harm in trying him there. All the plaudits for Podolski so far this season have been about how well he protected the left hand side in combination with Gibbs (not so much with Santos). Providing good defensive cover is a nice to have but on the offensive side if he isn’t on the score sheet the German’s contribution comes into question. signed as a replacement for Robin van Persie or not playing as a striker is not an alien position to him. on assessment of his season so far he has enjoyed a good start to his arsenal career but there is so much potential for more. we have players that can play in that left hand side role so Podolski should be given another chance to prove he can play there or not.

I didn’t plan for this to be a long post so I am going to cut this feature into two. I will post part 2 with more of my points tomorrow.

Feel free to let me know what you think of my suggestions, good or bad

Enjoy your day people

Sorry Arsene, RVP doesn’t deserve our respect – AFC

There is so much riding on this game today, a season is defined by where you finish after playing all your games. However there are a number of games on your calendar throughout a season that require a victory at all costs or at the very minimum no defeat. Usually those games are reserved for your local rivals where pride is put on the line and there definitely is no love lost between us and Tottenham. But today the match against Manchester united holds equal standing to the north London derby due to a number of factors that have arisen over the past year.

We have always enjoyed a mutual rivalry with united due to our epic challenges for the premiership title back in the late 90’s and early noughties. But two key factors have raised the bar on this clash to the level of which victory would have grown men crying with glee.

We all know the factors I have mentioned: the 8-2 and Robin van Persie.

Now looking back at the match on that ill-fated afternoon in August we were taken to the cleaners, we were in a bad place; our squad was in turmoil as players instigated their departure from the club leaving us in limbo. With key players gone, injuries to senior players on the day we ended up playing united with one of the most patched up starting elevens I had ever witnessed. Players making their debut, players untried at the highest level, players who had already negotiated moves away and were just filling a gap and which was quite evident were more concerned with not getting any injuries to spoil their medical.

The united team smelt blood and as we know arsenal fans we went on to witness one of the darkest days in our clubs history. The manner of the defeat brought such shame and disappointment on the name of arsenal football club that it will take more than victory today to erase the memory from our heads. A victory would help though.

Since that ill-fated game we did purchase players who steadied the ship and managed to turn our fortunes around slightly. There is no talk of crisis anymore like we had back last august but there is talk questioning how far this club has moved on. A question that will continued to be asked until we finally return some silverware to the trophy cabinet at the emirates AND the walking, talking stain on our clubs history that goes by the name of Robin van Persie finally buggers off.

Never has a man who has achieved so much with the club and then showed such disrespect by sticking two fingers up to the club and joining one of their main rivals. We have over the years had our differences with the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor or Samir Nasri but as we all know they were mercenaries and nothing those players do surprise us. They both joined our club with whispers of disruption and baggage at previous clubs, they initially knuckled down and showed their talent but their ugly sides surfaced and our club is a better place for not having those types around.

Robin van Persie is a player who spent many years at arsenal; we stuck with him through all the bad times he experienced with injuries and his short temperament. Arsene Wenger helped develop his game until he has become one of the most recognized and respected strikers on the world stage. He was club captain and he has experienced the top players leaving the club in the past. He knows what would be tolerated and what would not sit well with the club. He knows arsenal history and was fully aware of his actions when he made the decision to leave arsenal to join Manchester united.

We saw the passion he had when Adebayor joined Manchester city, that clash they had embodied the kind of bleed for your club mentality that fans of all clubs love. It could be just that the two players just never got on but still all the words he mentioned in aftermath of clashes with Adebayor showed how much he disliked the decision to leave the club for rivals in the name of money and quick trophies. How quickly times change.

Robin van Persie is finished with our club, those eight years spent with us mean nothing, he is not welcome back in my eyes and I would never acknowledge any achievements he received for our club.

Arsene Wenger has called for the fans to respect Van Persie and has likened the hate to some of the racial issues that has dominated football for the past few weeks. I’m sorry but I have to disagree with Arsene there. I am not encouraging hate on a player because of his nationality or colour of his skin. I am not condoning any physical violence directed at the player and I am not condoning any verbal abuse that goes beyond football banter (i.e. booing). But I do feel Robin needs to know how arsenal fans feel about him, he needs to be aware his actions over the summer were a disgrace and that he is never welcome back at arsenal in any capacity other than visiting when representing his new club. When his career is on the wane and he is desperately looking for a new club I do not want to hear Arsene has allowed him to train at London Colney to regain fitness and find a club. Those kinds of doors are shut on the player forever and I want him to know that.

To our fantastic away supporters, give him hell but keep it all above-board. Robin Van Persie is not worth risking getting yourself into trouble for.

It’s a tough ask for our boys to pull off a victory to gain back a smidgen of redemption from that 8-2 defeat but It’s not impossible.

We can do it.

Enjoy your day people.Enjoy the game

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