Listeners to the Arsecast will already be familiar with my view of the likely outcome at Old Trafford. However, we should not let the understandable pessimism about our chances of delaying the trophy presentation completely detract from the possibility of an upset.
I have a feeling that by picking players where they are most comfortable, and going with a bit of ambition, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that we could create as many problems for the champions elect as they are doubtless expecting to cause us.
That will require us to play for ninety minutes like the first twenty-seven minutes against Chelsea last week. We need to be on the front foot and doing everything we can to keep them from getting at our weak spot, namely the back five.
To that end I would select the lively Nasri rather than ask poor Diaby to do his best on the left flank again. Picking Diaby would send a message to Ronaldo that he is welcome to spend the entire match in our half where he could cause most damage. Selecting someone more suited to attacking down that flank would require the obnoxious but talented Portuguese to track back and give Gibbs some moments of respite.
Whoever is in the best shape out of Denilson and Song should be given the responsibility of covering the area between Cesc and the central defenders and putting in a shift the like of which they have rarely produced before.
If there is any truth in the rumours of Adebayor’s imminent departure I would go with Bendtner up front, and then say to Andrey Arshavin, ‘You can play wherever you think you can cause them most damage!’
Yes, I really would give him a free reign. His pre-season effectively started when he joined us in January. His performances in the last few weeks have shown he is the sharpest tool in our box at present. We should play to his strengths, and then spend the next pre-season finding a formation that will accommodate a midfield trio of Cesc, Nasri and Arshavin.
To get anything I think we need to dominate possession throughout, and score first. All of that ignores the fact that United are buzzing. They will want not just the one point that would secure a deserved title. They too will want to dominate. This might just be an absolute cracker.
Notwithstanding that I will be placing the ‘holic pound on an extra lottery line this week. I’ve never backed against Arsenal, and I won’t start now, but there will be no smart money wagered on the Gunners this weekend, I’m afraid.
This is a weekend to show a bit of pride, if we can. If we give it a go and still come up short it will be time to shake their hands, and accept the banter that will come our way from seventy thousand day-trippers to Manchester.
Our turn will come, remember that.
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