Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Saturday January 20 2007
21st Januray 2007
Man United visit Ashburton Grove on Sunday in one of the games of the season. If this fixture had come around back in early September then I think I can safely say that few Gooners would have predicted an Arsenal win.
But Arsenal are now finding their feet at their new home as the latest batch of young guns begin to come to terms with the physical nature of the Premiership. 15 goals for and 4 against (3 of them in one match) in their last four games and four victories could well mean that many-a-Gooner will be quietly (or not so quietly) confident.
United haven`t been doing so badly themselves 5 wins in their last 6 games although they have conceded 6 goals in their last 4 games. They also sit atop of the Premiership so they can`t be doing that badly this season.
Arsene Wenger says Arsenal are determined to win not only this game, but to continue Arsenal's good run of form: 'In our mind it's a game that we want absolutely to win, I tell you.
'We love to win, we want to reduce the gap to Manchester United as quickly as possible and we want to continue our run because we're in good form. We're still involved in nearly every competition, even the championship, and you never know what can happen.'
When asked his opinion on who would win the title Wenger replied with: 'I have an idea in my head but if I give you my idea you won`t believe me.'
'I cannot say we will,' he added later, 'because we are 15 points behind Manchester United. But I think we have the ingredients and potential to become the best team.
'At the moment we are not because we cannot deny we lost at Sheffield United, Bolton, Manchester City. Even if they are games we could and should have won.
'But this is a good opportunity for us to close the gap a little bit. They've had the advantage of having stability and players in form at the right moment, but it's still not over. Don't forget they must go to Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Portsmouth. They have a difficult schedule.'
Some red-faced old git: 'If our best players perform at their normal level then we can cause problems for any team.
'Our form is excellent and hopefully we reach that level on Sunday.'
Arsenal will be without William Gallas, Freddie Ljungberg and Johan Djourou while Robin van Persie faces a late injury test.
Gilberto misses the game through suspension after Lilly Savage assaulted him in the game at Blackburn.
Who else for the big games? The little Spainard has been outstand all season but never more so than when Arsenal have really needed him.
He may not have chipped in with as many goals as he would have liked but he has more Premiership assists than any other player this season as well as dictating countless games with the ruthlessness of Saddam Hussein.
I, along with many other Arsenal fan's expect a performance from Cesc.
The lucky old so n so's have a full squad to pick from after Wes Brown returned from illness.
The tenascious midfielder has been in fine form this season as recognised by Arsenal skipper Thierry Henry who says that Scholes will recieve his vote for player of the season.
I'm afriad I couldn't find any highlights of our previous meeting so instead I bring you this...
I'm afraid to say that Mike Riley will be the referee for this one. He is not the most popular Ref amongst Gooners for reasons I don't think I need to explain!
Vital Arsenal Member CraigD:
I may be stating the obvious here, but I feel Arsenal can win on Sunday, and win by a few goals, but in my opinion it all depends on one thing : keeping Paul Scholes out of the game. We did it OT this season, and we (by)passed them in the middle of the park, and look at the result.
Forget Carrick with his sideways passes. Forget Ronaldo with his masses of tricks and ability. Forget Rooney with his powerful runs. Forget Larsson with his cute movement. If they don't see the ball, they can't do anything with it. Scholes is the man who makes United tick, and I think United realise after last season without him how much they need him. Apart from the spectacular goals he chips in with (his volley against Aston Villa was awesome), his distribution of the ball is up there with the best....
Just like our Cesc's....
The battle of the midfield between Fabregas and Scholes is going to be where this game is won and lost, and Fabregas knows it; 'For any football player in the Premiership, Scholes is a player you want to emulate.' he says, 'I am young and I hope that I will be able to surpass him - but it is not going to be easy.'
How quickly and accurately Cesc, Alex and Tomá can get the football to our front line, whether it be Ade or RvP and Thierry will have the largest bearing on the outcome of this game, and the same goes for Scholes to Ronaldo et al...Cesc took on Vieira and won, the whole Real Madrid midfield and won, Scholes at Old Trafford and won...why not Scholes at Ashburton Grove? He may need a little backup from Flamini, but hopefully only for tidying up at the back.
I for one can't wait to see one of the best talents of the past decade take on one of the best talents of the next decade! ( I hope).
3-1 to Arsenal says I!
Date:Saturday January 20 2007
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