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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Manchester United vs. Arsenal

Old Trafford

29/8/09

17:15

On Sky

Man United v. Arsenal

Arsenal travels up north for the first of two big games against Manchester opponents over the next three weeks. Our impressive start to the season will obviously come under it's toughest examination so far. Many critics have their doubts to whether or not we can continue with the free-flowing attack that we've produced over the first four games. Personally, I'd be very pleased with four points from our two trips to Manchester, but I wouldn't mind just two points either.

Our offence will be severely tested, but I think the biggest test will be how the team responds if we go down a goal for the first time this season. It's all well and good when you can pile on the goals, but does this team have the character to drag itself back into a match? I believe we do, but we'll have to see.

Vital Quotes:

Here is what Arsene had to say about his side's first match against the big four: "We want to show that we can win the big games away from home," he said. This is a good opportunity to do it. We know we go to Old Trafford with a good belief and that is very important before a big game like that.'

"I don`t speculate on any weakness of Man United - that would be a little bit na´ve on my part. [I am confident because] first of all the quality and talent of my players. Secondly the attitude, desire and togetherness of the team."

Manchester United Team News:

United have a couple of injuries to deal with, but nothing too serious. The major absence will Rio Ferdinand, but Van der Sar and Rafeal are also out. Jonny Evans is a doubt with an ankle injury, but he is expected to partner Vidic in the centre of defence.

Who will start in the midfield for the Red Devils is up for grabs. Scholes, Fletcher, Anderson, Carrick, and Giggs will want one of those two places in the centre of the park, with Nani and Valencia on the flanks.

Predicted Starting XI: Foster, O'Shea, Evans, Vidic, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Carrick, Valencia, Berbatov, Rooney

Player to watch: Darren Fletcher

Fletcher played brilliantly against Arsenal in the Champions League semi-final last season. He completely bossed our midfield until he was wrongly sent off late in the second leg. The reason Arsenal had so much success at Goodison and Parkhead is because our midfield battled and won the right to play our football early on. If we can do that again against Fletcher and Carrick, then I see us getting an away result.

Arsenal Team News:

Two more players have been added to Arsenal's injury list. Captain, Cesc Fabregas, has failed his fitness test and will only be able to watch from the sidelines. Also, Aaron Ramsey picked up a knock 10 minutes into his appearance against Celtic Wednesday, so he won't be in the squad either. Wenger hinted that Abou Diaby won't play Saturday either, because he has already played 2 games this week.

So let me give you our full injury list: Fabianski, Djourou, Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky, Diaby, Vela, Fabregas, and Ramsey.

Exhausting. Though, it is refreshing to know that we do have a very deep squad, contrary to what the media would have you believe.

Possible Starting XI: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Denilson, Eboue, Arshavin, Eduardo, van Persie

Player to watch: Robin van Persie

Since Robin didn't play on Wednesday, I'm going to put exactly what I did on that preview because it is still relevant.

van Persie didn't have a good game in Glasgow. Something was off. He was lacking his usual confidence, and his shots lacked conviction. On Saturday, he played much better but still didn't manage to bulge the back of the net. He was visibly frustrated throughout the latter portions of the second half, but it was very encouraging to see him trying so hard to get that goal even though we were three goals up. I expect him to grab one today.

Match Prediction

With Fabregas out, I'm not as optimistic as I would have been, but when I look at the predicted United lineup, I'm not scared. Sure they have some great players there, but I think overall we're better.

That said, I'm still wary of predicting an away win. United know they can't afford another loss, and they'll play with that on their shoulder. So I'll go with a 2-2 draw.

Next Fixtures:

12/9 (Sat) - Man City (a) - Premier League

16/9 (Wed) - Standard Liege (a) - Champions League

19/9 (Sat) - Wigan (h) - Premier League

The match will be shown live on Sky in Britain, and FSC in the States.




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The Journalist

Writer: Brice Coffer Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday August 28 2009

Time: 5:04PM

Your Comments

Are you lot allowed to post the future fixtures?!
JT_daniel
I've been doing it for well over a year now, and nobody has said anything.
gunnerkid107
The one thing that goes in Arsenal's favour is since they haven't lost a game yet,they can go all out and try to win this game and even if they lose,they won't be in a crisis situation but we having lost a game already cannot afford another loss as I expect Chelsea to win against Burnley and it can easily be a difference of 6 pts at the end of the weekend.So we will just have to be a bit careful.
Antriksh (abmtd)
2-1 to united,playing at Old Trafford will make a difference,add to that cesc missing and we have just recorded a huge victory at wigan which is never easy,Arsenal too have had great results,but they have surely lost their main player in mid-field which will have a bearing on this game.
Antriksh (abmtd)
We didn't have him last game either Antriksh
TPowell
Eboue is a better attacking midfielder than Diaby so that is a positive move.
Tom14
Fabregas is definitely out, *****.
gunnerblood
But that was against Celtic TPowell, there's a bit of difference in class there.
Armory
come on arsenal
Babeasta
I live 18 miles from Old Trafford, so this is an Arsenal ' home ' game for me. RVP and a late AA winner will bring us a 2-1 win. I will be wearing my ' lucky ' Arshavin shirt. Every time I wear it, he scores and we win. Joy.
CockneyRich1
Comon Eduardo, score for the mighty Gunners.
Arsenal-till-i-die
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/leagues/premierleague/arsenal/6107077/Arsenals-Alex-Song-finds-his-rhythm-under-Arsene-Wengers-beat.html Can't believe I'm quoting the Telegraph but it's nice to see Song maturing and oh he's using the Evrs thing as motivation.
GoonerLou
Is that a 4-4-2 you think?
GoonerLou
i am happy to see Brown in the heart of their defence
TPowell
The away support is making every Gooner proud. Well done.
gunnerkid107
Player of the season, Ryan Giggs, is doing fantastic isn't he? Should have retired after he was given that useless award.
gunnerkid107
Russian Hammer
TPowell
Yayyyyyyy Andreeeeyyyyyy!!!
GoonerLou
Shouldn't they review that tackle of Fletcher right before the goal? Haven't seen a clearer penalty in our games this season! Every decision which is pure unjustice against Arsenal will ***** me off so much more now!
Fabby69
wow, rooney was already on his knees when contact was made, awesome dive by wayne!!!
TPowell
Isn't it just so Arsenal to lose like that. ******** Diaby. And whats so damn frustrating is that he played so well for 89 minutes and 59 second.
gunnerkid107
Yep he was down before he was touched but he was just being "clever" ;-)
iceman10
We were so clearly the better side, how do you win when you don't earn any of your goals?
TPowell
well done almunia.... you ****
Dan_83
I wouldnt worry too much about the result, United stuck in and were very professional something we need to learn to do. Weve had a bit of luck in a couple of the games weve won this season so it was always going to turn at some stage but overall im satisfied with the majority of the performance.
iceman10
This is one of those games that will bring back a huge sense of injustice whenever I look back on it. (Liverpool away in CL 2 seasons another one.) Oh well, tough luck. I just hope the team take the positives out of the way we played even if the end product wasn't always there. And Diaby, leave the defensive work to the specialists please. (So much for calling him a "D"M ahem.)
GoonerLou
Almunia did nothing wrong, watch the replay, Rooney's left knee was already on the ground and was lunging himself forward when the contact was made... the only time their attack was in any way threatening was when we had 9 players in the box at the very end of the match
TPowell
almunia did nothing wrong - he cost us two goals! we lost 2-1 .... so work out how he did nothing wrong
Dan_83
Sad....No ****ing luck...And to the ref: Why the drama???? Just Blow the final whistle!!! No need to put more shame on arsene.. Can't believe it...Diaby....WHY???
cesc_frantix
Almunia? What did he do wrong? I thought he made a couple of great saves in the game. Bang on Iceman. ManU losing to us early last season didn't do them any harm. Any still think referees should automatically command respect? Still at least we can comfort ourselves that Nani putting the ball out and claiming the throw will constitute 'intent to deceive' - twice - though Sagna got booked for protesting on the first occassion.
Amos.
Theres a footballer hiding somewhere in Diaby, and I do hope he finds that guy. Tough luck guys, we'll bounce back.
deledudu
two arsenal players decided the fate for arsenal in the game. when will Wenger sign a decent midfielder to replace Diaby? all the hard works were undone by two individual mistakes. what a pity!
fcdematthew
http://www.d1g.com/video/show/?id=3082066 RoonEy DIVE
Youngest in Charge
The only difference with the Rooney and the Eduardo situation was Almunia stuck his hands out but the intent of both players was EXACTLY the same.
iceman10
Well i for one will be able to rest easy knowing that Rooney will be getting a 2 match ban for his dive that was much more important to the result than Eduardo's dive...
TPowell
I want to see the replay too TP. I thought there's minimal contact in slo-mo but I wasn't sure. But then if that's a foul, how did he get a yellow and not a red? What does the rule book say actually? And if that's a foul, how was the lunge into AA not a foul? Can someone also tell me how Valencia managed to stay on the pitch?
GoonerLou
you can go to arsenalist.com for all the important replays lou... there was certainly contact, but the problem is that rooney was already on the ground when the contact was made...
TPowell
Thanks YiC, Rooney did fall before the collision with Almunia. But I have to say his acting's a lot better than Eduardo's. That's the only difference other than the one Iceman pointed out above.
GoonerLou
Certainly Lou, Mike Dean is a homer. His words in Evra's ear last season support that. Valencia's elbow in Vermaelen's face was as worthy of a yellow card as Sagna's for protesting at a wrong throw-in decision.
Amos.
My view exactly iceman10, its like the Sky punditing team know how to push all my buttons, nobody mentions it, instead its "good play from Rooney". I'm not arguing that its not a penalty, because it clearly is, but rooney dived as much as Eduardo did in mid week, but there's no way they'll be treated the same. This defeat will feel better tomorrow.
Monkeyjerky
For me thats a nail on penalty but like I say Rooneys intentions were no different to that of Eduardos but luckily for Rooney Almunia did what he expected where as Boruc didnt. Thats why the media and UEFA have got their stance so wrong on this. Mike Dean was awful again exactly the same ridiculous performance he gave in the same fixture last season.
iceman10
Sorry Gooners. Arent those Manure ********s the luckiest ********s in football. You guys didnt deserve to lose today. Of Course Manure get bailed out AGAIN from the ref at Old T. But what in the hell was Diaby thinking????? And I was actually clapping when I saw that extra time goal scored by Van P. but damn! offsides. Sorry chaps.
iwearbluu
Hey I know it's gonna sound silly but we should really take heart from this game, not just because of the good performance, but also (heehee): this would paper over their cracks but we'll keep working harder and harder to prove this result wasn't a fair one. e.g. Wouldn't hurt if Almunia gets more and more careful with divers and Diaby decides to practice headers a bit more eh? And seriously, other than those two seconds, it's a good performance that we should take encouragement from. The defence was solid, Almunia as Amos said made some good saves. RvP hit the bar and Diaby had a near miss. I mean we went to OT and played well enough to deserve a better result than this. But now that we've lost, we won't take things for granted, which is a good thing.
GoonerLou
Dean was a ******** disgrace. He deserves the no11 more than Giggs for his contributions to the match.
Sajit
typical arsenal football
Andyflag679
We can lay the blame left right and centre, but when the dust settles and emotions level, anyone can see that we gifted them the game, completely self destructed again. Hugely disappointing but surprising? Not one jot. Such is our predictability in these games I'm applying for the position of Arsenal scriptwriter. 1-0 up at half time 2-1 down at the final whistle against a massively ordinary looking manure. Really noone to blame but ourselves. The sinking feeling when the only sub we had left to make was Ramsey- who was never gonna turn anything round and indeed again looked hopelessly overawed at the situation. Still early days but a win against sh**teh is vital to avoid the malaise setting in even earlier than usual. A week for the club to forget ASAP.
nikolaijns
You're right Niko - we beat ourselves really. It was a shame that we didn't have anything on more potent on the bench - Nasri or Rosicky would have been ideal. We ended up playing long ball again. We need another experienced creative player.
Amos.
I also totally fail to see the logic in bringing on B52 and not ordering to stick central as time drains away, to be on the end of any balls pumped upfield or crosses that are whipped in, the sight of Bendtner being the crosser and see it sail over dudu was galling. 10 mins left at 2-1 down why in the name of (insert whatever fictional deity here) aren't Diaby and Bendy in the danger area to at least force saves? Beggars frickin belief.
nikolaijns
That game was poor. Through and through. On both sides. We did not link well, and beat ourselves with poor movement off of the ball. Diaby did not play well, and should not have seen the second half. He is far too cavalier, and gives up possession numbly and cheaply. His runs were poor. I thought for certain Bendtner was going to come on for him, and was SHOCKED when he saw full time. We allow far too many teams to take their game to us; I believe that we need to play with more aggressiveness in our first level, RVP and company should be closing those backs and center halves and force them to raffle more balls; we can play with creativity on the counter as we have shown. When an attack is made to compress our defense, we mark poorly and allow for poor clearances and or/needless corners. We lack a size advantage, so we need to play in space. Manure are brilliant in that they foul (like the Spurs of the NBA) when it appears that we are going to play with an advantage. This is why we needed a better possession midfielder in place of Abou today. Unfortunately, we do not have that right now. I also think that at this point, it is foolish to think that this club as currently constituted, is poised to do a double, which is what our aim should be, no? If not, don't we risk losing our best? Just my thoughts.
drewsan
I'm sorry, that paragraph is rife with grammatical errors. I was approaching this in a very stream of consciousness way.
drewsan
Don't get angry with what I am saying and don't take it as biased because I'm a united fan....I call things as i see it firstly AA getting tackled by fletcher was a clear penalty....if not for the actual foul itself it would have been for the handball which followed... as for rooney's penalty I think any ref would have given that...I think any ref that wouldn't have given that would have been axed.... however i do not wish to enter a debat on wether there was simulation involved because I believe we might have a disagreement there....the way i looked at it is that despit wayne starting to fall he knew he needs to reach that ball first so his other foot was trying to reach the ball and kicked it just in time before almunia took him down
ibrahiy
to be fair to almunia I don't know what goalkeeper wouldn't have done the same....and i believe a clear foul like that deserves only a yellow... I admit we got lucky...I didn't expect us to win after seeing the formation and esp wes brown in central defence...but i'm glad we got the points.... I thought the first half all the calls went your way...obv except for the deserved penalty....but it was more even in the second half
ibrahiy
Is there another way drewsan? lol. It was a very scrappy game and we conceded possession far too sloppily through dawdling and general dicking around. Cescs' absence was always gonna cost us here especially with no Nasri or 'Sicky either - the truth was we had precious little creativity in midfield. combined with the fact that not one of our front three were playing in their favoured or natural position and it's a foregone conclusion really. Whilst we can get away with this against the likes of pompey or Celtic it's always gonna be exposed against the better sides.
nikolaijns
ibrahiy It was a dive regardless, but dont get me wrong, I dont think rooney is a dirty or unfear, he just took full advantage of the rules. As for the penalty shout we had with fletcher, well what can you say, the ref lost his nerve and took the easy way out.
Armory
Almunia was never trying to avoid contact with Rooney, he went into the challenge with intent and got nowhere near the ball so wether Rooney went down early or not, it would've been impossible to avoid Rooney either way. I thought it was quite an entertaining match with both sides carving out some nice chances but Giggs really pegged us back in the first half. I'M 100% sure had Scholes been playing Giggs possession, we definitely would've gotten a goal or two in the first half! But I'm not complaining, three points and a win against a very good team.
ForeverUnited
Well on the positive side, at least we didn't lose 4 nil to our bitter rivals like Milan did today.
gunnerkid107
In case you didn't notice, I was being highly sarcastic.
gunnerkid107
In fact we could even be 4 goals down prior to the disallowed equaliser - the way we carelessly pour forward without any care for the defense! Fortunately Berbatov n Nani were useless.
oberkorn
Its not that Rooney dived. The problem in that was when Rooney touched it the ball ended up in the stands. In would have been no advantage at all. So the debate is not if Almunia touched him. Because he did after Rooney got there first. But the problem was that when Rooney touched the ball forward, he punched it into the stands. How is that a penalty? Even a United fan would agree that they didnt deserve that win. Arsenal beat themselves. Im still trying to figure out what the hell was Diaby thinking? Did he think he was on offense?
iwearbluu
I was sat right behind Wenger yesterday,and I *****in loved it!!! and when Wazza went over I had a fare old semi on!!!!
SweetLeftFoot
did you get one when all your moraly outraged fans (surely thats why they were booing Eduardo?) were singing THAT song at our gaffer?
iceman10
Classy people.
GoonerLou
Three times you've posted that, you really are pleased with yourself aren't you? Moron.Next time you travel up to OT from Devon, I hope you remember that when you have to listen to opposing fans sing horrible songs about Munich. You sir, are a waste of oxygen.
Little Dutch
 

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