Tuesday, 28 April 2009

The mancs await

I must firstly apologise for my lack of attention to the blog over the past few days, I make no excuses for the improved quality of writing in my absence courtesy of Obsinho, I was simply sunning myself and enjoying not working for a few days, unfortunately I have now returned to the grind and a combination of alcohol/caffeine withdrawal leaves my head sore and my mind bitter.

Anyways onwards and upwards, we take on the 'mighty' and 'magnificent' Manure tomorrow, if one believed the hype then Manu are already in the final, they have virtually a whole team of player of the season nominees and a goalkeeper so 'solid' that they call him the Northern Rock. Luckily the hype is a big steaming pile of horse manure and we are very much in with a shout of making it to our second ever Champions League final. Manu's form has been rather shaky of late, fortune has been on their side with dodgy penalty decisions, while their victories have been far from convincing following on from their humiliation at the hands of Liverpool.

Trying to predict Arsene's hand these days is a bit like foreseeing the scrawling of a nutty professor, certainly our line up against Chelsea was unexpected, as well as being rather ineffective. The money will probably be on the 4-5-1 formation again (sigh), although personally I wouldn't mind seeing Bendtner and Ade paired together up front, something that would potentially give the Mancs a lot to think about defensively. If 4-5-1 is the weapon of choice, then Nasri will have to play on the left with Walcott on the right, Fabregas and Song are certainties, meaning the choice will be between Denilson and Diaby in make up the midfield trio. With Arshavin cup tied the only other option I could guess would be that Walcott be switched to the left, Nasri plays centrally with Eboue slotting onto the right side of midfield. Was the Boro game a dress rehearsal or just a cunning ploy to throw the red nosed one off the scent?

In my opinion Diaby has performed best in a more disciplined role in a 4-4-2 formation, he definitely has more in the way of attacking prowess than Denilson. Having seen the 4-5-1 fail so emphatically against Chelsea I do fear that the same line up may well see us inviting a lot of unnecessary pressure, leaving our weakened defence subjected to too great an attacking load. This also seemed to happen against Liverpool, we could not retain possession, our lone striker was too isolated and the pressure became too much to take, the defensive errors become almost inevitable as the pressure is cranked up. It's great that Almunia is back in goal, he gives us that commanding presence that is needed at the back, there is a big worry over Silvestre, making the return of Johan Djourou look even more likely despite his knee not quite being 100% as yet.

It's an enormous game, I am getting just a little nauseated thinking about it now, the atmosphere will be electric. Hopefully the ref will not be afraid to make big decisions against the home side, history suggests that he won't. We will need to defend well, an away goal or two will also be very useful, for this reason I suspect the first leg may be a rather cagey affair as Manure will not want to concede at home. There is certainly nothing between the two sides as judged on recent encounters. It is time to stand up and be counted, come on you Gunners.


Anonymous said...

The importance of an away goal cannot be underestimated. If we were to go back to the Emirate 0-0 or 1-0 down I would struggle to see us winning.

Ted said...

I am almost sick with excitement over this one.

I would love to see us go 4-4-2 and take it to the mancs. But I am 99% sure Arsene won't do it. So the usual 4-5-1 mess it will be, with massive emphasis on our wide players to get forwards. Theo has looked electric recently, whereas Evra has looked poor. That battle could be decisive.

I am also intrigued by what Fergie will do. Manure are all over the place at the moment, but have made some heroic comebacks. If they play Berbatov, Giggs, Nani etc then thats great for us. But my hunch is that Fergie will go with his "workrate" XI, including Tevez, Anderson and may be even Park.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if Fergie puts out a hatchet man, such as John O'Shea, to sit on Fabregas and kick him at every opportunity.

1979gooner said...

I suspect fergie will go for a hard working defensive side as you say Ted.

Park, Carrick, Scholes, Ronaldo midfield

Rooney and Tevez up top but one will drift wide.

Then Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand and a right back, not sure which one as neville and o'shea are doubtful.

Obsinho said...

Give up on the 442 dreams - it has been and always will be 4-5-1.

This can work as long as Ade gets service he can hold high up the pitch and bring Theo/Nasri/Cesc into the game. If his touch is poor, or the service is poor then we will struggle.

Agree that I expect Utd to field some workhorses over flair - Tevez for Berbatov, Park for Nani etc....

Rooney likes scoring against us and he is one we need to watch - he is always fired up for these games as well. Hopefully we play with a bit of "professionalism" and cunning - teams do well in these stages that know how to play the game even when there is no football being played.

Rhinogooner said...

One tactic that works well against Man U (as well as us) is getting in their faces when they have possession.

If we don't give them any space and we hunt in packs as soon as one of their players receive the ball, they will make errors and get frustrated. We have to put them under pressure.

The same can be said about how to defend against us though. So which team is going to show the grit and effort required?

Obsinho said...

I think there is a new blog in the offing, but if there is anybody around, I have a quick question - did Chelsea play heroically or luckily?

I watched all 95 minutes, and could count on my left hand the number of times they had less than 10 players behind the ball.

Fiar enough - these 2-legged ties are like that, and to my mind they did the right thing in trying to play negatively.

The two things that bother me are this -

1.) to play this way you have to be lucky. Bojan should have scored, Eto could have scored, there may have been a penalty (v soft) and there should have been a sending off at some .

2.) You have to play an entirely different game in the second leg. Barca created good chances when they had 10 defenders cramped into the box, imagine what they would do if they had some space?

This has repercussions for us as well - we could try and line up like CHelsea, and keep 1o behind the ball and hope Ade is both as dangerous and as "professional" as Drogba (his driving pisses me off so much, but it is so important to gaining territory and relieveing pressure), or do we play both legs the same way, as Barca will do.

Interesting times...

Ted said...

A bit of luck and heroics, I think. Bojan should have scored, Eto'o was greedy and should have given Henry a tap-in, but Drogba should also have scored. 2-1 to Barca would have been a fair result, but Barca created very little real chances.

That said, you almost cannot see Chelsea getting enough possession to build some decent chances. Hiddink is gambling that they will score when they get a chance in the second leg.

If Barca score at the Bridge, which I do, then I simply cannot see Chelsea going through.

Anonymous said...

SACK WENGER he is a joke he needs some ggod players man utd are the best team at the min cause they buy ggod players not has beens sick of winning nothing and while wenger is there they wont win anything