Sunday, 7 May 2017

Arsenal v Manchester United Preview

It's not easy to write about Arsenal at the moment and previewing their games is the most difficult thing of all to do. How do write with any enthusiasm about a team who can't muster any of it themselves and are doing little more than going through the motions. I can't remember the last time I actually saw a good performance from Arsenal and the troubles we have run far and deep.

I don't think we lack players who are good enough to perform at the top, but those players seem incapable of playing as a team. No matter what formation we use the effort and commitment just isn't there and it's too easy for opponents to play against us. For me the only way that can change is with a new man at the helm, but we're still in no man's land when in comes to a decision on the future of Arsene Wenger.

Of course we have still managed to win a few games during our demise in the second half of this season and those wins have tended to come at home. We have actually taken 10 points from our last four home games and kept clean sheets in three of those games too. It's our away form which has actually collapsed with five defeats in our last six games on the road and that gives us a little hope for today.

Those three home wins were against Hull, West Ham and Leicester who are hardly the strongest teams in the league and we just about scraped a 2-2 draw at home to City. With three home games still to play we have to target nine points from those games starting at home to United today. Even if we were to manage that we have to go to both Southampton and Stoke and our away form suggests they could be very tough games for us.

As it stands a top four finish is still just about possible, but only if we win our last five games and City or Liverpool lose one of the three they have left to play. The way both of those teams have played at times this season that's quite possible, but you would have to go a long way to find an Arsenal fan who believes we will win our five remaining games. We won't be playing in the Champions League next season and we are going to have to get used to Thursday night Europa League football followed by Premier League action on a Sunday.

We still have something to play for though as we face Chelsea in the FA Cup Final in three weeks and the chance of finishing our worst season ever under Wenger with a trophy. We can also stop Chelsea winning the double in that game after Spurs as good as handed the title to them by losing at West Ham on Friday night. Wouldn't it be very funny if our worst season under Wenger ended with us winning a trophy and Spurs winning absolutely nothing despite having their best season in my lifetime.

Back to United and our chances against them today and on paper you would have to say it's a game we should win. They still have a better chance of a top four finish than we do, but they need to win their last four games to keep those chances alive and that's going to be very difficult for them. Their best chance of Champions League football next season rests in winning the Europa League and they are favourites to do just that.

They won away to Celta Vigo in their semi final first leg on Thursday night and it looks like they should progress to a final showdown with Ajax as the most likely opponents. It would be a huge blow for them not to win that trophy and it has to be where they will concentrate their energies for the rest of the season. With that in mind you would imagine they will not play their strongest team today and we need to punish them for that.

Of course we went to Old Trafford last season to play a reserve team which had defenders in almost every position and ended up losing 3-2. We certainly can't underestimate any team United put out and Jose Mourinho will have whatever team he puts out well drilled in how to beat Arsenal. We have never beaten any of his team's in the Premier League in 14 attempts and it's a duck we really need to break today.

I don't imagine our manager will make too many changes from the defeat to Spurs last week and no matter what team he plays our chances will depend on the attitude and belief the players show. It's something that has been missing for far too long now although the semi final win over City was the one possible exception. If the players couldn't get themselves up for Spurs last week it's difficult to see how they can change things for this game, but we just have to hope they will.

Even if we're not going to finish in the top four it's always good to beat United and it would be great to get one over on them and the hideous man in charge of them. They have only lost two away games this season though and have more points and goals away from home than they do at home. They have gone 25 games unbeaten in the league and they may be boring as hell to watch, but they are very hard to beat.

As always I'll be cheering for an Arsenal win and I just can't understand those who seem to want us to lose at times just to further their hopes of getting rid of the manager. Like so many others I think it is time for a change, but I would never want to see my team lose. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

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