The BackPageBanter crew are on tour, but that has not stopped us grabbing some Belgium beer, forking out a euro for the use of a painfully slow computer, and seeing what we could muster for Sunday’s big game at the Emirates. Van Persie’s bid to leave Arsenal in search of silverware has gone altogether too well for him (the money-grabbing, Fergie-hugging tit that he is!) and the red carpet treatment will have to be given to this year’s Premier League champions. Honestly though, it really should be United doing the bum licking after it was our striker who has won it for them! No bitterness there whatsoever. Whether he starts on Sunday remains to be seen, but his first appearance back at the Emirates will re-open a painful wound that many of us fans have been unable to let heal this season. So let’s get stuck into the match preview; your guests myself, Nick-a-win and Gooner Dave!
Touchline Tom 15.33
It hasn’t really been a season for fierce rivalries with United. Neither has their push for the title really been of much interest to us fans this season. A painful reality perhaps, but another gauge of how our priorities have changed over the years. The League has been wrapped up in a nice little RVP shaped box (best wishes Mr. Wenger) but the battle for fourth still rages.
I have had many a debate with Arsenal fans about whether playing United before or after they had sewn up the trophy would make much difference. The truth is that we haven’t looked like scoring all too much recently and whatever side United do field, they still will have the quality to defend well and limit our opportunities. As for our team, Wilshere has returned from his minor injury but appears to be struggling to regain the form which greeted his initial long-awaited return. Walcott’s form too has been poor. He must still be up all night crunching the figures of his new contract because he really didn’t look with it against Fulham. Quite when he is going to continue on the long-anticipated upward curve of progression is beyone me, but we could sure do with a big performance from him should he find himself on the pitch on Sunday.
So as the likes of Walcott struggle for form, the OX struggles for game time and he must be frustrated at his limited opportunities this season. For me, while he still may be a bit raw, he offers more than any of the wide men we have in the side. His pace, trickery and powerful running could really expose a jaded United side. I would also like to see Cazorla played centrally with maybe Gervinho and Podolski ahead of him. I don’t see Wilshere starting so this still provides us with direct players and a few dead ball specialists who could ultimately decide the game.
We may not be challenging for the League, but no one likes losing to United, especially when all their fans are only up the road! I just hope Wenger fires up the players to get stuck into United – and I don’t mean an Olly Giroud type of getting stuck in, which hardly counts - but really want the three points. We are the only team that need them after all! COYG!!
So as the Backpagebanter tour bus is currently anchored in the magnificent city of Bruges, with Amsterdam the next stop tomorrow, it’s a certain Dutchman that will grab the headlines this weekend! Hopefully just for the guard of honour and not finding the back of our net mind!
After a gritty and non-Arsenal like performance last week at Fulham, it seemed we were back to the George Graham days of old, with 1-0 to the Arsenal ringing around the stadium. The performance will need to be bang on the money this coming Sunday, otherwise Van Pursestrings will get another chance to make a Nasri-esque comment! It’s such a big game for Arsenal as the race for the top 4 will surely go to the kitchen (get that chef back Spurs!) Utd will be more relaxed and hopefully still hungover as I’m sure Fergie treated his players to a few Scottish whiskeys this week! Hopefully the Glaswegian remains red-faced as Wenger attempts to out fox his old foe.
The games between Utd and Arsenal are usually pretty frantic so expect a few fireworks during the game. With no Olly Giroud to create them though (quite how his tackle merited a 3-match ban is mad!) it remains to be seen who will play up top for the Gunners! Out of the 3 possible options of forehead, Theo and Poldi, none of them have impressed in the central role this season so Wenger might have to draw a name out of a hat! Talking of hats let’s hope Wenger has his magic one with him and gets the tactics right come Sunday… Lots of intriguing battles all over the pitch and it will be interesting to see how a potentially weakened Utd team fairs up against a fired up Gunners side eyeing Champions League qualification! COYG!!!
Gooner Dave 16.48
Spurs haven’t gone away and neither have I, so forgive me for not being as positive as last time. Arsenal’s game against Fulham was good for only one thing and that was sleeping. When Giroud attempts a pirouette on the ball and gets sent off you know you have seen it all. Worryingly we seem to have lost our attacking instinct and so often now we are reliant on a Cazorla shimmy and pass to get us into goal-scoring positions. Fergie will want to set an all-time League points record and RVP will know how to play the spectator at the Emirates after being out injured for so much of his time with us! I don’t know where the goals will come from, but as long as we don’t concede we will always have a chance. Oh for the days of Henry, Bergkamp and co.!
I’ll keep believing, but it certainly isn’t pretty or convincing from the boys in red atm. 1-0 to the Arsenal and we can all rest easy for another week!
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