Next Saturday, 23rd of November 2014, a truly inconsistent Manchester United will travel to London to measure forces with an equally inconsistent Arsenal at the overwhelming Emirates Stadium for round 12 of the English Premier League.
The match is of sheer importance for both parts, who not only are out of the table places that grant European football next season but they also are more than ten points behind José Mourinho’s Chelsea, who is comfortably sitting at the top of the table.
As for Arsenal, the Gunners are also not having a season to remember and the high hopes of Alisher Usmanov earlier in the season have gone completely down the drain.
The home draw against Anderlecht for the UEFA Champions League was a huge blow to Arsenal’s already fragile confidence levels and their defeat at Wales a few days later cannot be seen as a surprise.
During their match against Swansea, the Gunners gained the lead on the 63rd minute, thanks to a goal from the newcomer Alexis Sanchez, but once again failed to secure their advantage and twelve minutes later the Swans were back in the match, when Sigurdsson granted the equalizer.
Life hasn’t been easy for Arsene Wenger at London and a defeat against Manchester United might force his long stewardship at Arsenal’s throne to come to an abrupt end, as supporters are beginning to lose their patience with the French manager once again.
After another poor display of power against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford two weeks ago, Manchester United will now face a fairly more demanding challenge and, although Arsenal are not enjoying the best of times, the team still remains one the powerhouses of English football.
During the last round’s clash against the Eagles, United might consider themselves lucky for grabbing the three points, because if it wasn’t for Fraizer Campbell’s sloppiness in front of the goal, the match’s outcome could have been much different.
Juan Mata, on the other hand, was the hero of the day, by netting in the Red Devils’ only goal thanks to a scorcher from outside the box that counted on the collaboration of the Glaziers’ goalie, Julian Speroni, who looked to be sleeping on the job when the Spanish international placed his shoot between the defenders.
Louis Van Gaal proceeded with his never ending quest for finding the tactical approach that best fits United’s current needs, but once again the team displayed severe cases of miscommunication between the lines, as the linking elements of his 4-1-4-1 style weren’t able to fully achieve their jobs.
The Dutch manager relegated, once again, Ander Herrera to the bench and opted for Michael Carrick, who is definitely far from being at his best, to act as some sort of Regista in front of the defensive quartet, but his choice left, in fact, something to be desired.
The injuries’ whip has blasted United once again this week and, for the clash against Arsenal, Van Gaal will most certainly not be able to rely on the contribution of Falcao, Blind, Young and Rojo, and there still several doubts regarding the current condition of David de Gea, Carrick and Di Maria, all dealing with some minor injury problems.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) – Szczesny – Chambers – Mertesacker – Monreal – Gibbs – Flamini – Ramsey – Cazorla – Wilshere – Sánchez – Welbeck
Manchester United (4-1-4-1) – De Gea – Valencia – McNair – Jones – Shaw – Herrera – Di Maria – Fellaini – Rooney – Juan Mata – Van Persie
It is never easy to make predictions for a match such as this, especially when we have two teams desperate to find some peace of mind and to grant a moralizing win that might burst the sparkle that is crying to be lit inside of them.