It’s currently 8am on Sunday morning in Brisbane, 18 hours away from the kick-off to Arsenal v Manchester United, and I’m excited.
For the first time in a number of seasons both teams are in with a good chance of winning the Premiership and that makes for a spectacular game. United sit four points behind Chelsea after their overnight win over Burnley while Arsenal are a further point back in third place. In short, with fifteen games still to play, there’s nothing in it.
With our boys having to play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge next Sunday and Liverpool at The Emirates the following Wednesday, I really feel that winning tonight could be the catalyst to a red-hot run to the title. Psychology plays a huge part in football and the confidence and belief a win over Manchester United would bring to the going into the Chelsea game could be vital.
We thoroughly outplayed United at Old Trafford with only a debatable penalty and Abou Diaby’s moment of madness to blame for our failure to come away with a win. We are also the league’s in-form team and have lost just one game at home all season.
There has been a lot of talk about the trouble Sol Campbell may have against Wayne Rooney if Thomas Vermaelen is ruled out, yet more important to our chances is the return of Alex Song to the midfield. Arsene Wenger revealed he is still tired after returning from Africa but if anything is going to wake you up it is a game against Manchester United and I fully expect him to not only start but put in the sort of controlled, physical performance that we have become accustomed to this season.
Nicklas Bendtner may have only played 30 minutes of football in the past three months but the manager would be crazy not to start him today. The Dane lacked a little sharpness off the bench against Aston Villa on Wednesday, but that didn’t discount the fact that his introduction changed the game. His extra height added a focal point to our attack and provided a long-ball option for the defence and perhaps more importantly, Manuel Almunia in goals.
Bendtner should be joined in the team by the two Eastern Europeans, Andrey Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky, as well as midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Aaron Ramsey. There will be those who question the absence of Denilson from my line-up but in my eyes Ramsey’s supreme confidence and attacking threat makes him a more preferable option to the out-of-form Brazilian. Ramsey’s direct style and ability from long-range would throw a spanner in the works for Sir Alex Ferguson and his United defence.
These sorts of games usually come down to who puts in more effort so it’s imperative our boys show desire and determination from the first whistle. We have the team to do it, they just need to get out there and get the job done.
Win, lose or draw – it’s going to be an epic night at the Emirates.
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