I understand the joy Arsenal fans are feeling right now. After years of watching the decline of their club as a force, real signs of a title challenge are now mounting. Let’s all hope it’s not a mere mirage; an oasis that will vanish once reached. The 2007/08 campaign was the last time Arsenal mounted a real title challenge. That season, the gunners led the table for most of the campaign before key losses to Chelsea and Man United destroyed their quest. A repeat of that this season would be a devastating reality to bear. Just before the close of the transfer window in August, #WengerOut was trending throughout Twitter world as fans demanded Wenger’s resignation. Some quarters demanded immediate signings while some simply called for his dismissal. A few months later, Wenger is a darling of the fans and tabloid.
Manchester United has always been a top club. Consistency and silverware are nouns that every United fan is familiar to. This season however has been characterized by disappointments. The epic managerial change hasn’t worked so well. I still recall that emotional address that Ferguson gave United fans at Old Trafford when he was leaving. Allow me to quote a bit of it:
“When I had bad times, here, the club stood by me, the fans stood by me, everyone stood by me. Your job now is to stand by your new manager!”
Fergie’s speech was subsequently followed by screams, cheers and bla bla as if the fans had taken his sentiments to heart. Trust United fans to be hypocrites. Months later, they are all calling for Moyes’ head as if there is a better coach out there with the ability to spin the Red wheel effectively. Apart from Guardiola and maybe Mourinho, any other coach in Europe would have had a struggling start to a managerial career at Old Trafford. So sit back and relax. GGMU isn’t gone.
As a Chelsea fan, I’m eagerly anticipating the weekend clash between United and Arsenal. Gone are the days when this clash had the magnitude similar to that of the El Classico. This occurred because of Chelsea’s emergence as a fierce force and Wenger’s satisfaction with Champions league qualifications. The weekend’s main clash promises to be a mouthwatering one, but there are major weaknesses both Wenger and Moyes don’t see. Let’s take a look.
Arsenal’s attack has only one weakness and that is Olivier Giroud. Yaya Sanogo is irrelevant and so is Nicklas Bendtner. If Wenger doesn’t fix the Olivier problem in January, it might just cost Arsenal the title challenge. Giroud used to be a talented goal poacher when he was at Montpellier but right now it seems like his talents have been substituted by hard work. Many footballers end up flopping because they prefer to overwork themselves rather than rely on their minds, instincts and talents.
Rooney and Van Persie are ready to do what Giroud will be reluctant to do. The problem with these two guys is how they smile at each other for the cameras but they don’t really like each other. Rooney is still secretly jealous at RVP for dethroning him as United’s golden boy. After realizing he couldn’t leave United, he has been on a personal mission to reclaim his status. At PSG, Ibrahimovic is doing to Cavani what Rooney failed to do to Van Persie last season.
At Real Madrid, Ronaldo is doing the same thing to Bale. One striker who should be at QPR instead of United is Danny Welbeck. Overreliance on Januzaj on the flanks will also be detrimental to United’s challenge. That boy is no Cristiano Ronaldo. Cristianos don’t come in pairs. Ask Nani. Januzaj is just an over hyped 18 year old who’s unsure whether he’s English, Belgian, Turkish, Albanian or Serbian. On another note, Ashley Young’s diving theatrics might lead United to false glory or deserved doom.
Arsenal are relishing under Mesut Ozil’s commanding and creative presence in midfield. For a guy who was considered team B material at Real Madrid, he’s surely outdoing himself. His link-up play is one of the key reasons the Gunner machine is working so well. Aaron Ramsey’s form is also somewhat of a wonder. Arteta’s solid performances culminate in an awe factor but Jack Wilshere is overrated. He’s currently sidelined with an ankle injury but the fact still remains that he’s an average player. Wenger will never acknowledge that though.
I’m still disturbed by the fact that Anderson stays at United every season. There are multiple midfield maestros in Europe who deserve to be at United. Anderson reminds me of that employee who is not as good as you are but gets more lucrative opportunities and wages. One thing is for sure though, Kagawa needs to play. Moyes refuses to see that.
Defense and goalkeeping
Arsenal’s defense has been pretty solid this term. Szcesny, the shot stopper extraordinaire has kept a number of remarkable clean sheets. Vermaleen has cut a low figure though. He looks a shadow of his former self. He is currently the weak link in Arsenal’s back troops. Koscieny has been reliable and so have Sagna and Metesacker.
I still don’t understand why neither Ferguson nor Moyes bothered to buy a world class right back. For a long time, United’s winning policy has been; ‘As long as we outscore our opponents, we are okay.’ The twin towers of Vidic and Ferdinand are a shadow of former self. In that right flank, United really need a full back that will bombard up and down without being overcautious. Much like Evra does. However, Evra is getting old and the addition of a Leighton Baines in the past transfer window could have instilled some real competition would and yielded fruitful results for the Red Devils. Ferdinand does need to play, everyone else in that defense does. The goalkeeping department has no real problems currently. Having said that, let’s all hope for a great game.