It’s simple really: we kill the Bat- er, Robin.
Our chants and banners worked much better when he wore the correct red jersey, but such is life. Either way, the plan remains. No, don’t actually kill him, but simply mark him out of the game. I’m sure Frimpong and Tommy V would be delighted to rough him up a bit, but we must remember that this will be a football match, not a battle to the death. I hope all the Arsenal fans keep up their good reputation and stay classy for the entire trip. As usual, I digress.
We’ve got a golden opportunity in our hands. United have just been knocked out of the COC in disappointing fashion. We’re still basking in the glory of one of the best comebacks England has ever seen. Let’s take the enthusiasm and confidence of our players to Old Trafford, and make United squeal. It shouldn’t be too hard. Shinji Kagawa’s absence forces creativity to come from strikers Rooney and Van Persie. Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker will have to remain deep, leaving the offside trap for another day. You simply can’t go to Old Trafford and expect decisions to go your way.
Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta are all fit, and the trio will most likely start. I almost feel sorry for Paul Scholes, and whoever else they decide to field in the middle of the pitch. It will certainly be a game of who has the better defense, because at the moment, our midfield outclass anything United can put together. Despite my confidence in our midfield, this is a game where I wish we had Abou Diaby. His presence at both ends of the pitch can’t be ignored, but neither can Jack Wilshere, who took the midfield by storm in his return to football at the Emirates against QPR.
The key to United’s back door lies in the hands of Giroud. With Rio Ferdinand and Johnny Evans the likely starting pair, Giroud and potentially Walcott could make good use of the aforementioned duo’s disadvantage in pace and aerial prowess to expose the inexperienced and often mercurial David de Gea. We should do well against the Spaniard, with Walcott’s new found finish abilities, and Giroud’s power in the box. Life should be tough for de Gea, as he’s often outmuscled in attempts to claim the ball. We can capitalise on his weaknesses in the air by making use of the flanks to fire in crosses at will. With the offensively inclined Rafael and worsening Patrice Evra as guardians of the wide area, we shouldn’t have too much trouble making the wings our own.
In order to make sure we’re supplied with brilliant crosses, I’d start Jenkinson on the right, and Sagna on the left. Sagna has played there before without issue, and Jenkinson deserves to play, given his form. Either way, it ensures we don’t have defensive lapses, and gives SAF no weak points in the defense to target. As much as I love and support André Santos, I don’t think his style or defensive ability suit this match.
Up top, Giroud, Walcott and Podolski are essential, although I have doubts as to whether Podolski will play the entire match, if at all. Surely, it makes no sense to rest him for such an important fixture, but beyond him, there’s only Gnabry and Santos to plug the gap on the left-wing. His heel/ankle injury won’t get any better by continuing to aggravate it, but he’s a key player to the squad, and one that is too useful to lose. We’ll have to wait and see how Arsène deals with the problem, but for now, Poldi has to soldier on.
In short, 3 things will win this match for us. Midfield dominance, effective use of the flanks, and preying on David de Gea. For extra measure, a bit of good luck could also go a long way.
My prediction for the match is a 3-2 win, by the skin of our teeth. Man U will get a penalty, as per usual, but we’ll score 2 in quick succession.
Hopefully I’m right in these key points, and most importantly, the result. If you have something to add to the game plan, feel free to let me know in the comments section.