Ahead of the big game: Arsenal vs Man Utd

Well, I am back after spending a great deal of my life producing a play called The Leopard and The Fox. Its gotten rave reviews including a really good one from the New York Times. Tomorrow is the last show and I can truly tell you that I have missed blogging about my favourite passion.
But, tomorrow is the big game that everyone and anyone who follows these two teams is waiting for with bated breath. And it’s not just the two best teams in the Premiership with a huge stake in winning it all, its two teams playing breathtaking soccer. Arsenal with their seamless passing game are finally finishing off chances (although watching Liverpool there were at least three occasions when the Gunners could have iced the game) and Man Utd have come alive with their explosive attack having obliterated their opposition in the last four games. But it is their stifling defence that has kept them alive through their goal drought.
In the not so recent past Arsenal Man Utd encounters have been testy and provocative affairs with personalities like RVN and Patrick Vieira squaring off adding to all the drama. Tomorrow’s match does not have those sort of personalities although I do remember Eboue getting fresh with Rooney last season. Arsenal’s game is defined by unassuming Cesc Fabregas’ pinpoint passing and recent goal scoring prowess. Man Utd’s man of the hour is Carlos Tevez, who with his pumping legs has turned into Rooney’s provider as well as slotting some of his own.
So does Wenger go with a 4-4-2 with Eduardo pairing up with Adebayor or a 4-4-1-1 with Hleb playing just behind Adebayor? I prefer the latter because although Eduardo has been impressive in the CL games, he is still to find his Premiership legs and this match is just too important. Arsenal’s chances noticeably improved after Theo Walcott’s introduction in the Liverpool game and his speed down the right widens the game. He has been in very good nick and has become much more self confident. Tomas Rosicky’s more direct approach has been a bit inconsistent and if he is to be substituted Wenger could consider versatile Abou Diaby taking his place too.
Arsenal’s blown coverage led to the Gerrard goal and this time they will have to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo and the wily Ryan Giggs who can punish them with mistakes like that. Rio and Nemanja Vidic are the danger men on corner kicks so the Arsenal defense has to be extra vigilant in these circumstances. Without RVP, Man Utd enjoys an edge in set pieces.
Look for the Man Utd midfield and defence to scramble and run hard at Arsenal’s superior open field play to disrupt their passing game and close down the lanes. I predict hard tackles, frayed tempers, and two very animated managers with Sir Alex’s chewing down hard on a wad of gum and Wenger pacing the sidelines.
Hold onto your chairs as tomorrow’s game promises to be one for the ages! As an Arsenal fan, I am going to go for a 2-1 verdict in favour of Arsenal. What’s your bet?

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