Tony Cascarino On Man Utd v Arsenal
Tony Cascarino, pundit for the New Football Pools on Manchester United v Arsenal.
'I must start by saying that picking a winner from the Manchester United v Arsenal tie is very difficult. One thing I am pretty sure of is that there will be goals in it.
One of the key battles of the tie will be Theo Walcott up against Patrice Evra as for me; the United left-back is not a good defender. If Walcott is on fire and can get on the back of him, then Arsenal could create all sorts of trouble. Just like Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon did at the Carling Cup final. Walcott has the pace and trickery to cause Evra lots of problems and unlike Lennon, Theo has a far better end product.
If Walcott is at the top of his game then I would perhaps edge towards Arsenal over the two-legs but on the other hand Wayne Rooney is the one United player I would back to really hurt the Gunners. The England striker is in fantastic form and with Arsenal lacking centre-halves, he could bully the back four into submission. He will be direct, aggressive and will work Arsene Wenger`s defence all other the place. Arsenal may suffer without William Gallas with Rooney capable of giving what is a relatively naïve defence a run-around, particularly at Old Trafford.
This match is finely balanced as both midfields tend to play open expansive games so there will be plenty of space. It may be a case of which team can exploit this area better as to who triumphs. Both sides have the players to exploit the opposing team so it should be one hell of a game.
In years gone by, United have intimidated and bullied Arsenal on the pitch with the likes of Roy Keane, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes putting themselves about to knock Arsene Wenger`s side off their stride. However, with Owen Hargreaves still out, United don`t have too many players who I`d regard as ball winners. In terms of physically imposing themselves on the young Arsenal side, apart from Nemanja Vidic, Scholes and of course Rooney, there aren`t too many intimidating figures in Sir Alex`s squad.
Without ball winners in midfield, United may struggle to contain Arsenal who are an incredibly dangerous side if they are able to pass their way through the centre of the park. However, the Gunners may be undone by the naivety of their defending at times illustrated perfectly at Anfield. After all, the likes of Rooney, Berbatov and Tevez will make Arsenal pay if they don`t defend properly.
Therefore, mainly due to the form of Rooney, I would just inch towards United to win the tie though it will be very open, great to watch and should involve plenty of goals.'
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