Arsenal v United: The game that means more than any other

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It’s Arsenal v Manchester United tomorrow afternoon and I’m getting pretty bloody excited about it. You see, Arsenal-United games are my favourite to watch in world football.

When I started following the English Premier League in 1998 Arsenal and Manchester United were the top dogs in England and their contests were more fierce and competitive than any other in the country. The emergence of Chelsea as a real power has dulled the importance of these clashes to a certain extent, but they still mean more to me than any other.

Not being from London or even the UK it’s hard for me to comprehend the venom that surrounds an Arsenal-Spurs derby game and for me Arsenal-United always evokes the most emotion. They are the old enemy, the aggressive black to our princely white, the dark side to our light. Losing or beating them means more than losing or beating any other side.

The memories from Arsenal-United games will never be forgotten. Dennis Bergkamp’s penalty miss and Ryan Giggs’ solo goal in the FA Cup semi-final of United’s treble season. Thierry Henry’s spectacular flick and volley in the 1-0 win at Highbury in 2000. Fabian Barthez’s howlers in the 3-1 win in the wet at Highbury in 2001. Sylvain Wiltord’s strike to win the title at Old Trafford in 2002.

Then there’s Ruud van Nistlerooij’s penalty miss in Arsenal’s unbeaten season. The one he scored to end that unbeaten run in 2004. Patrick Vieira’s penalty that won the 2005 FA Cup. Emmanuel Adebayor’s late winner at Old Trafford in 2006 or Henry’s late header at the Emirates in 2007. William Gallas’ late equaliser in the 2-2 draw last season. The list goes on and on and on.

Regardless of form and injuries I expect Arsenal to give absolutely everything they have tomorrow. This is a big chance for our boys to put a backs-to-the-wall performance together and show everyonewe’re still in this title race. It’s a game where players like Nicklas Bendtner and Abou Diaby can show they are as good as their manager thinks they are.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post the team I think Wenger is going to play. I stick by that with the exception of Gallas who seems likely to miss out. Theo Walcott, like Gallas, is only rated as 50:50 by the manager but I just have a feeling he’ll start tomorrow and we’ll need his pace. That would mean the team will be Manuel Almunia in goals behind a back four of Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Mikael Silvestre and Gael Clichy; a five-man midfield consisting of Denilson and Cesc Fabregas in the middle, Walcott and Samir Nasri out wide and Diaby behind lone-striker Bendtner.

I think it’s a team good enough to beat United. People will certainly be viewing Bendtner as the week link in the side but I always get the feeling that his confidence/arrogance means he’s more likely to score against bigger opponents than smaller ones. It doesn’t get much bigger than Manchester United.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow and I’m nervous and excited in equal measure about what the result might turn out to be. So nervous and excited that I’m going to watch the game at home alone, away from my United friends. A win and we’ll be right back in the title race, a draw means we’ll be hanging in there and a loss… well, let’s not talk about that right now. Positive thinking and all. 

So come on boys! Get in there and do us proud! Up the Arsenal!

Have your say on Arsenal’s epic game against United by leaving a comment.


68 thoughts on “Arsenal v United: The game that means more than any other

  1. I like the lineup but I wouldnt be surprised to see Song in there… We relied on him in last seasons second match against ManU and he did pretty well… I am really liking that back line for some reason too… I question Bendner and I think ela and his speed may be a better option… I really hope Walcott plays… A crazy idea I had that may throw ManU off is switching Nasri and having Diaby/ Vela on that wing… Nasri behind the striker may be a good matchup- especially if it is fast Vela up front… Just a tought….

  2. Good post mate ! getting me stirred up for the match …
    A 1-0 win would be delightful! … I think if we concede first then we are in big trouble …

  3. Spanish, I understand that your not from London or the UK and whilst Man Utd vs Arsenal is a huge game and probably one of the most exciting in the premiership I would say it is not the most important game for either club. In terms of localy rivalry it’s Arsenal vs Chelsea/Spurs and for Utd its vs City or Liverpool. Utd vs Liverpool is probably the biggest clahs in terms of pure vitriol. However the best game of football I have ever seen was our Fa Cup semi against Utd in 99, even though we lost that game was a true classic.

  4. good team. dont u think theo shld b given the opportunity 2 play upfront wit ramsey/bent taking right. i believe he is a striker in the squad.

  5. Hi wenger pls we need a good and reliable striker pls greet fabregas & others except adebayor 4me, tell them that they are doing a great & wonderfull job up gunner!!

  6. Spanish Fry – being from Brisbane like yourself, I have the exact same feelings about the game. Arsenal V United is as good as it gets. Bring them on I say!
    I am watching the game with United friends however… So I’ll be happy when I can stick it to them by saying “Yeah, Arsenal and my man Fab were just too good for you!” :-):-):-)

  7. During college times,most of my frens were man-u i know how imp & vital is this match to be.during those times, i was booed ven arsenal missed a chance to score . but last time i had the last laugh venref cleared a mess &gallas had a go. i just want to laugh at last again.

    Sent on a phone using

  8. I live and work near London so the Spurs game has extra significance. It was no fun going in last Thursday after the 4-4 and being wound up by spuds all day. However, I agree that Man U will always be a big game. It’s because there’s more at stake than palying Spurs, who never win anything anyway. In the last decade these games have shaped the outcome of the premiership. Apparently Walcott will be fit tomorrow, which is great, but Gallas won’t, which is also great. Hopefully Djourou will play again, but it’ll probably be silvestre and toure at the back. Whoevwer plays, we need them to show guts and determination.

    PS- for UK fans: Went to see Bob Wilson on his speaking tour last night. It was excellent, and I recommend you go if you can. Loads of stories about the team of ’71 etc.

  9. Spanish fry, thats a great line up but i prefer a Djourou-Silvestre partnership at the back. Berbatov, Vidic, Ferdinand, Fletcher, those guys will give us problems with set pieces, we need to add some height in our team, Djourou is exactly what we need in that department! I predict that the Gunners will walk away with a 2-0 victory!

  10. @ Fatboy – I would love Djourou to play. I’ve been advocating for him to play all season. But yeah, as you say, it’s probably going to be Silvestre and Toure.

    The interesting thing is that Djourou and Toure played at the back when Arsenal beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2006. Big Johan was immense that day and there’s no reason why, two seasons on, he can’t be as good. In fact, he should really be better 🙂

  11. @ Grant – Yeah, you’ll know exactly what I mean then. Arsenal-United are the biggest for me because traditionally (in the last 10 years) they’ve been the most important with regards to the title. Plus, the animosity in the matched between Keane, Vieira, van Nistelrooij, Bergkamp etc made it all the more fun. Bring on more crazy rivalries I say!

  12. @fatboy…U r from uk so i understand the importance of london derby 4 u … and u will agree with me that that last 10 mins was the most disappointing football played by arsenal in this season . but the outcome of league is always decided by clashes like this. i hope wenger plays vela $ djorou in this match…any cricket fan here????

  13. Really nice comment by Ray Parlour about the game. Sums up my thoughts completely:

    “When it’s Arsenal v Manchester United, you find a little bit extra. It is the biggest game of the season. When I was playing we had to beat them if we were going to win the league. That was the game you always looked at when the fixtures came out. Tottenham might be our local rivals but that was the one. It was always a meaty encounter, always a great game with plenty of desire.”

  14. ………………………………….Almunia……………………………… Sagna………….Toure………………Silvestre………….Clichy Walcott…………….Song………..Denilson…….Nasri ………………………………Fabregas………………………………………………………………..Vela……………………………….

    What about that? with fab behind the striker and denilson alongside song?

  15. @ MoMoney – I like your lineup. I would keep everything the same yet i would take out Denilson and put in Diaby. Denilson against teams that really pressure the ball like Man U will, he looks uncomfortable and give the ball away far too easy. Diaby is very comfortable and has so many tricks he can get out of pressure. Plus in the middle is where he should be playing, not down the wings.

    With Adebayor out, i just don’t see where our goals will come from against Man U. Ade is the greatest but he seems to do well against Man U. Hopefully Vela starts over Bendtner, esp if there is only gonna be one up top, but i couldn’t pick one player and say he has a great chance to score. That is a bit worrying. More worrying to me is if Bendtner starts by himself up front. He just hasn’t looked good this year with exception to Bolton.

  16. @Demetrio, dont you think Vela is too short and too skinny to be a lone striker? I dont think he’ll give guys like Ferdinand and Vidic too much problems by himself! I think if he is going to start, he must play with Bendtner up front!
    My line up for the game!
    Def: Sagna, Djourou, Silvestre/Toure/Gallas, Clichy
    Mid: Walcott, Cesc, Diaby, Nasri
    fwrds: Bendtner, Vela

  17. Yeah im just not liking the lone striker idea. If Wenger was gonna go for a lone striker i’d put Vela over Bendtner because Bendtnr just hasn’t looked a all comfortable in games this season. A two man front would fit much better altho a 5 man midfield i would be more comfortable with our chances since Song is a big presence and can get in Man U’s way also he has shown wonderful tackling this season. With a 4 man midfield i’d replace Diaby with Song.

  18. Denilson is not comfortable. He gives the ball away too easily in games where teams really pressure him. He is better when he has room to operate, and against Man U he will not have tha room. Song is much better because he wins the ball back. He doesnt need to be the fastest player on the field he just need to stop Man U from putting too much pressure on our back 4. Denilson with his give aways will add pressure on our back four and our CBs dont need to baby sit him to cover his mistakes. They will have enough to worry about.

  19. @ Demetrio

    I like that idea even more to be honest… Give Walcott and Nasri on the wings with Song and Diaby in front of the defense- then Fabregas behind Vela up front… Vela as a lone striker would still be dangerous… We wouldnt be crossing for him but we rarely do anyways… His speed will help him get to through balls from Fabregas and his immense skill on the ball will get him past Vidic and Rio a couple of times… Thats the lineup I would use with the only question being Denilson or Diaby (Diaby is preferred)…

  20. Why dont we just play Djourou in the CM position with Cesc? If Wenger decides to play Toure and Silvestre at CB, Djourou can play in CM. He is better than Song and Denilson, he’ll bring that Patric Viera presence in the team! So how does a Walcott, Cesc, Djourou, Nasri midfield sound??? With Bendtner and Vela up front

  21. Yeah i agree it is very dangerous to play Vela by himself. But the times he has come on, he at least looks to try to make things happen. He is very good with the ball at his feet as well, where as Bendtner sometimes looks as if he isn’t sure whether to pass or shoot and ends up stepping on the ball and giving it away. His touch has let him down on several occasions this season as well. I think Rio has looked very suspect this season at times for Man U. The speed of Vela and hopefully Theo will bother him and make his afternoon very uncomfortable. Although it is dangerous to start Vela by himself, if Theo does play, i think Wenger needs to encourage him to start coming in the middle sometimes instead of sitting on the touch line waiting for the ball. He looks good when he can make runs not only down the wings, but can also cut to the middle of the pitch, which would add another striker. I just REALLY do not want Denilson to play. His passing under pressure this season has just been rubbish and we cant afford our lads making bad passes against a team like Man U whom have the ability to take advantage of stray passes.

  22. @ Gibbs

    I like the idea of brining Djourou to CM. I even like bringing Toure to DMF since he can go forward (play defence of course) and he has the speed.

  23. I still think the midfield will be Walcott-Denilson-Diaby-Fabregas-Nasri with Bendtner up top on his own. I think that as long as Fabregas gets a decent amount of ball and Diaby is given a free role we have enough quality to score goals. Walcott and Nasri will cause problems if they push forward.

  24. I still worry about Denilson. I think he will hold Arsenal back in games like this, where his stray passing sometimes disrupts the rhythm of the possession. I guess if hes just there to protect the back four it will be ok, but i prefer Song over Denilson for that job. I think Walcott’s speed could cause Rio’s hair to turn gray if Theo runs at him. His defending in some games this season has been very sub par

  25. I think we have to approach this game as a must win. The players has to show the passion and commitment to win the game. If we can win this game we will get our confidence back after a series of poor performances. I hope Sagna and Walcott will be fit to play. I do not care about Gallas because Djourou can offer a lot to this defence than him given his poor form. My team will be:

    Sagna Djourou Toure Clichy
    Walcott Denilson(Ramsey) Cesc Vela
    Subs: Almunia, Silvestre, Song, Wilshere, Diaby, Denilson(Ramsey)

    This team can swith to 4-4-2 formation if needed with Vela coming upfront and Nasri moving wide if needed.

  26. Diaby? There is more chance Wenger will play him behind Bentdner but I disagree with Wenger in this case. Diaby has no positional sense, is a poor tackler and he never release the ball to the runner. So I want to go with Nasri. Believe me Nasri’s best position is in a free role as a attacking midfielder. He gave top performances in Marsielle shirt playing behind the striker. For last few games he has been below average playing wide. Also vela is a natural left footed player with good pace, he can topple either brown/neville, whoever plays.

  27. Yea I kinda feel like Nasri is made to play behind the striker… Put him then there and Diaby on the wing maybe? It would be real interesting to see that spine with fabregas and nasri lined up…

  28. Momoney; Vela would be better on the left than Diaby. Vela is naturally left-footed with better pace. He has ability to trouble Manu’s RB than any other Arsenal players available to play at the moment. So why not give him chance he deserves. He proved he can play against big teams when he scared Segio Ramos for 90 minutes playing for Osasuna in Madrid last season. We need goals and a win. Vela is the the best option to play left midfield.

  29. I think your lineup is probably the 1 Wenger will go with! I really hope Djourou play, but even if he doesnt play, i beleive we are capable beating the crap out of ManU with the players we have! We are known for upsetting big teams, and this will be 1 of those upsets!!! UP THE GUNNERS!!!

  30. Vela on the left could be deadly… Him and Walcott are very similar… Stick Nasri in front of Bendtner then have Fabregas next to one of Song/ Denilson/ Diaby (id say Song to have a good defensive minded guy in there)… Then sagna and clichy along with a Toure and Djourou (or silvestre)… I really think that is an incredible squad… I kind of like the idea of fab up front so we could have 2 DMFs but I like this better… We are Arsenal we play attacking football no matter what… I am STOKED anad I really feel this formation would be deadly against United (would throw them off guard as well)…



    (wouldnt mind someone else in Song’s place but thats how I would do it…) This may be our setup of the future IMO… With van Persie/ Adebayor up front it would be deadly whenever we choose to go 4-5-1

  31. YES!

    Quick thoughts cuz its early here in the states

    Gallas stepped up minus a couple of half clearances…

    Nasri is a legend

    Bendtner played horrible… I would rather have seen Vela but cant complain

    Fabregas needs to study some old Zidane tapes… Has all the quality but tries to make the incisive pass too soon sometimes… He needs to control the tempo od the game, keep posession, then split the defence… Thats what happened on the second goal and when we are most dangerous… If he develops that mental aspect of the game the sky is the limit…

    Great goal by Rafael… It hurts my soul knowing there are two of those Da Silva guys at ManU

    Almunia was great before being subbed- not a step wrong

    Arsenal can beat any team but it is the consistency and depth that are the question marks… Hopefully it shows in the Champions League

    GREAT WIN- We are still alive


  33. What a game! One of the best game between the arch-rivals. It was a outstanding match in the premier league after a long time esp between big four’s. Big salute to Samir Nasri. His passing, dribbling and ball-holding was really good. I have seen Arsenal player’s willingness to play as a team for a win the first time this season. We need this kind of commitment against all the teams like Fulham, Hull, Sunderland and Stoke.

  34. Spanishfry; Cheers buddy…Its the time for celebration. I will tell Nasri that we all love him.

    Nasri Gun

  35. Great win for the GUNNERS, we showed the world today that we are not a team to take lightly! Never write Arsenal off!!! Im one of the few Gooners amongst a lot of ManU fans, seeing the shame and disapointment on their faces is great! Those pundits who were critical towards Arsenal had a uge chunk of humble pie today and i hope the hated it, lol!!! Everyone in the team gave their all(exept Bendtner, who should’ve burried ManU)! If we keep playing with such passion and comitment in every game, we’ll win a lot of trophies for sure! The other thing that made me happy was our aggression, we were very physical, stood our ground and we did not alow ManU’s big players to push ur arround! IN ARSENE WE TRUST, UP THE GUNNERS!!!

  36. And now that’s why Spanish Fry was so excited about this game! 2-1! Lovin’ it.
    All except for the nerves the last ten minutes gave me – I think I am now more prone to heart attacks after the work-out it was given… Also the heart-attack I did actually endure when Almunia handled that backpass instead of booting the crap out of it…
    Never give up hope Gooners! Never!!

  37. YESSS, just what was needed, United put back in their place, Nasri silences his critics however Niklas gives critics an easy time. Carrick on Almunia, what are peoples thoughts??

    United now lost to US and Lfc 2-1! am buzzing, well done Nasri and Gunners.

  38. I have to give Clichy credit! He kept the best player in the world(Ronaldo) quiet for almost the entire game, there arent too many defenders in the world that can do that! This was Nasri’s best game for the club so far! We looked great in defense and we looked great in attack, this was the most complete performance by the Gunners this season and im completely saticefied with it!

  39. @ jay jay

    I thought it was a bit harsh to give Carrick a yellow. The ball hadn’t been fully secured when he went for it so i see no intent on hurting Almunia. I will say that i am happy with Fabianski on the goal. It was just about unstoppable, but I’m happy to see him make an effort to save it, many times this season Almunia has not had the reaction time to even make an attempt to save it.

    All in all a very good game. I wish our defence could give the same about of commitment in every game like they did this. This was a must win game tho, if we are to be considered for the title. So im not gonna get overly excited until i see the lads put together a run of games with this form.

  40. Props to Clichy but he got lucky a few times… The header back could have been an own goal and he left Ronaldo free at the back post but he somehow missed… He played well but there is still room for improvement.

    I think Gallas deserves a lot of credit… Really took initiative and set the tone for the team today… Made some mistakes but came up uge as well…

  41. great game where was hleb during the big games? nasri is a star and at the end of the will he won’t he sign drama I couldn’t care less if he did by fucking hell I’m glad we got him and a big two fingers to anyone that goes on about wengers transfer policy as he can find some real gems just look at our squad when everyones fit and it is a pretty good side with out all the big names as manure had rooney, ronaldo, berba vd sar and tevez all international stars and we showed what a great performance with a lot of youngsters can still play well and cesc isn’t as good and the boy needs a break and diaby is showing his class by cutting out the stupid 2 footed tackles and becoming the enforcer we need so badly but I still think denilson doesn’t fit in as such but he’s still got talent.

  42. Le Boss has an eye on Roma’s De Rossi according to The Mirror! He’ll make a bid for him during the Jan transfer window! Lets hope he signs him so that we forget about Flamini!

  43. Well in Italy over the summer there was rumors of Wenger trying to keep a low key and talk Roma into selling De Rossi. So i would say this story has a little bit of credit since WEnger has tried to sign him already before. Also its said, here at least, that Wenger also wants Iaquinta, which personally, he’s the same as Ade, very big and strong, good at taking long balls and setting people up but very wasteful in finishing. We already have Ade to waste 10 chances a game we don’t need Iaquinta for that. And last week in Italy it was reported Wenger wanted Aquilani, and that is a very old report because Wenger has been linked to him since his rise in the Roma squad. So it looks Wenger may be looking to raid the Serie A in January, which i am pleased if he does, the team needs more toughness and defensive grit our players in Italy would bring. Knowing Wenger tho, if he did he’d buy the guy we don’t need.. Iaquinta.

  44. If Arsenal signs someone in January have to be DeRossi he is just what we need, maybe Eboue + Bendtner + 10mill would be a good deal.

    Or at least the same deal for Mexes.

  45. A Headache, a car needing a few parts and a paint job, a trashed $500 phone(it was lost for about 1 hour)and probably few friends short and I am still happy. My head is killing me though

  46. Guys, we have just beaten a full strength Man U with Diaby as a striker and already people are talking about buying players?!?!?!??!?

    Now that makes me unhappy

  47. Mexes and De Rossi would be an absolute dream! Doubt it happens though… Aquilani would be nice too…

    The thing with this squad is I feel it can beat anyone… The problem is when they have to sustain it for the whole season- we dont have the strength, depth, or mentality and we need additions to do so… Hopefully we can pull off the Champions League tis year…

  48. Gallas was a real leader and we won! He was fantastic in defence FINALLY, Nasri was super and now has 6 goals in an arsenal shirt. Wanted to see Vela 🙁 Fabianski did well in the final minute to catch a very high ball with Berba lurking. Overall good performance.

  49. Why are you guys talking about buying players!? We have a goalkeeper who played a great game on Saturday and a reserve who made two brave catches when the game was tense. Let’s look at what we’ve got rather than worry about what we don’t just for the minute.

  50. @ taygoon

    Yes the lads beat Man U but it was a MUST win game for us. Footballers no matter on what squad always pull together and put in a great effort when their backs are against a wall. Had we lost we would have had no chance of winning the title. You cannot look at one win against Man U and say it proves our squad is complete. Our boys were hungrier for a win then Man U. The fact still is, we lost to Stoke, Hull and Fulham. I doubt the boys will play the rest of their games with the same passion they did against Man U. If we can get to January with no more losses, just a few ties, Wenger could add to the depth of the squad and we’d have a realistic chance to win. Not adding depth will see us walk away with nothing. Wenger is already complaining that the lads are tired, if they are tired now, come the end of the season they will be half dead. Wenger i think knows now he has to add some depth.

  51. I agree with Demetrio… It was one game. Doesnt mean our squad is set… In fact if Ronaldo doesnt miss that sitter then this is an entirely different conversation and attitude in this thread… We need some January signing IMO- GK is probably set for the year but we will need to start looking in the summer… A good DMF and a CB would be ideal…

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