A few thoughts ahead of the Arsenal game…

by Sam Peoples

Normally, whenever we play Arsenal, it is a fixture that excites both sets of fans because the game normally turns out to be a nerve tingling affair. However, heading into the game on Sunday, it almost looks over before it has started as far as I am concerned. The form of both sides couldn’t be any different. Going into the game Arsenal are a wounded animal, regardless of the fact that they managed to overcome Udinese in the Champions League play-offs and they are sitting pretty in 14th, with only 1 point from 2 games. Arsenal have had a dismal start to the season. A lackadaisical 0-0 draw away to Newcastle must be considered points dropped and losing 2-0 at home to Liverpool had to be considered a good result in the circumstances, such is the downward spiral consuming the Emirates. If Arsenal managed to use last season as a building block, they would have no doubt been title contenders again this season, but the exodus at Arsenal is leaving them in severe danger of losing any threat whatsoever. Fabregas, Nasri, Denilson, Clichy and Eboue have all left the squad and Wenger has only brought in two League 1 players in Jenkinson and Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Lille striker Gervinho, who is looking like another Walcott with all his attacking play but little to no end result:

“Samir’s situation is clear for me. He stays. We are in a [financial] position where we can say no and we will, in the case of Samir. It is in the interests of the club. Imagine the worst situation, that we lose Fábregas and Nasri; you cannot convince people that you are ambitious after that.”

Wenger has already eaten his hat and washed it down a pint of bitter. Arsenal are walking to slaughter and when they come to Old Trafford on Sunday, who are they even going to play? Song is banned after stamping on Barton, Gervinho is banned for a red card in the same fixture, Frimpong is banned for a red card against Liverpool, Wilshere is still injured and Koscielny is injured, alongside Djourou who only returned from injury against Udinese on Wednesday evening. Whoever plays, they won’t be ready for what they will be coming up against.

United are red hot right now. 6 points from 2 games and one of the best second half displays from the second youngest starting XI United has run out in Premier League history puts Arsenal’s concentration on youth to shame. Call it the naivety of youth or the exuberance of talent but I have not seen such confidence in a recent United team than I see in the current fold. Maybe it came through everyone almost knocking the team before it had a chance when a replacement from Scholes wasn’t brought in from outside or maybe it is just a continuation of the brilliant pre-season form we have shown, but Arsenal are definitely coming to Old Trafford at the wrong time. No matter where you look, you see a star on the rise: Anderson has scored 4 goals in his past 5 games, Cleverley has seen improvements in every game including a fantastic cross to Welbeck for the opener last week, Jones looks all the part like one of the most complete defenders the English game has had in recent times, Rooney looks like the £30 million man we were waiting to return and Young has added a consistency to our wingers that otherwise lost us at points last season. A clean sheet in his opening home game will have done the world of good for the confidence of our Spaniard De Gea and he will be looking to maintain another one against Arsenal.

I honestly cannot see anything but a rout happening at Old Trafford on Sunday. Call me overly optimistic (isn’t every football fan?) but the dire straits that Arsenal are going through is a polar opposite to the rise of Fergie’s Fledgelings Part II at Old Trafford. The attacking partnership of Cleverley and Anderson should rip right through the makeshift midfield that Arsenal will have to put out and such is the rising stock of Jones and Smalling, Ferdinand may find himself subject to a bench warming day on his return from injury. It is so good to see United’s fantastic policy of giving the youth a chance paying dividends so early on in the season. Could you have imagined what we would have done last year if Vidic, Rafael and Ferdinand were all out by the second fixture? Cue nightmarish thoughts of Carrick playing as a central defender again. The progression the team has made over the summer break has been nothing short of phenomenal and I am fully expecting the away section of Old Trafford on Sunday to feel awfully similar to roadkill – run over, flattened, lifeless. I anticipate that Rooney will put in his best performance so far and grab a brace and I am hoping that Tom Cleverley can open his account with a goal against the Gooners. Come on you Reds.

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