Arsenal: 'Crisis' Talk Is B******s But Özil Needs To Prove His Worth vs. Man United
Billed as a match between two teams in crisis by BT Sport, the match at the Emirates tonight between Arsenal and Manchester United is the first time since the Gunners moved into their new home in 2006, that the game has been more important to Arsenal than Man United, in terms of the title race.
So about this crisis...
The weekend just gone in the Premier League, both sides were on the end of equally embarrassing results, yet it was Moyes’ men that had gained a point on Arsène Wenger’s men by the end of it.
Arsenal were of course on the end of an absolute hiding from Liverpool, there’s no other way to put it, and in the opening 20 minutes, there were remnants of ‘that’ day at Old Trafford, minus Johan Djourou and Francis Coquelin.
But shouts of a crisis are more than premature; after all, Arsenal finished the weekend in second, one point off the top and it was only the second time in the league since December 23rd, when Jose Mourinho parked his hypocritical defensive bus at the Emirates, that Arsenal had dropped points in the league. So a crisis, no. A wounded animal, yes.
Opponents Manchester United however, in the same period since Arsenal’s 6-3 loss versus Manuel Pellegrini’s men in December, have won 6 games in all competitions, having played a game less, but are without a win in the league since 18th January. And with the draw at home to Fulham on Sunday being described by Moyes as a “low point”, United are in desperate need of 3 points. So again, crisis?
On the brink.
But this is not news for some, the way they media and some fans have portrayed this season, this has been a crisis ever since the day Sir Alex Ferguson hung up his managerial jacket, still jammed full with packets of chewing gum.
And despite the signing of Juan Mata in January, who has contributed with three assists since he signed, United have seen no upturn in their fortunes, and the Spaniard has fired out a warning to the side he almost joined in 2011:
“The week at the training ground was really good. I know my team-mates better and I feel a great atmosphere in the dressing room.
“I hope we can show that against Arsenal. It’s a very tough game, but I have good memories from my last visit to the Emirates a few months ago and I hope I can enjoy a good game as well.”
But as we know with this fixture, it is a game between to English heavyweights; neither will lose that title after one bad weekend of results.
In 7 Premier League encounters between the two at the Emirates, United have won 2, drawn 2 and lost 3. Who could forget the first time Ferguson’s men visited? Henry, anyone?
But then who could forget the dismantling of Arsenal in 2010, with Rooney, Ronaldo and Nani (yeh, Nani!) silencing the Arsenal faithful with a convincing 3-1 win.
So what does this mean for the game tonight?
You’ve got two sides looking to bounce back from a disappointing weekend and David Moyes looking to complete a season double over Arsenal.
However, the stats don’t look good for David Moyes as he brings his Manchester United side to the Emirates for the first time.
As Everton manager, he never won at the Emirates in 11 attempts, losing eight and drawing three. And whilst taking the draw tally to four will suit him perfectly, for Arsenal, nothing but three points will do. And with two more huge fixtures still to come in the next seven days, a positive result is needed more than ever.
They will be also looking towards their big players to turn up for a big game, especially record signing Mesut Özil, who had his worst game in an Arsenal shirt at Anfield on Saturday, and this morning labelled a “flop” by.... The Sun.
Enough of that talk, the German, who has 5 goals and 11 assists in all competitions this season, has received the backing from his manager in the build up to the game,
“He didn't have the best of games, but that can happen. He works very hard to adapt to the physical level of the Premier League and for me he is an exceptional player.
"I wouldn't like to put too much pressure on him because he has been a top-class player until now. He knows when he is not good enough he will get questioned - that is normal."
With United likely to line up with Mata, Young, Rooney and van Persie in a front four, with Carrick and Fletcher the two central midfielders, there will be a chance for Arsenal, if they can dominate possession as they notoriously do at home, to overrun the midfield.
However, as we have so often seen in this fixture, Wayne Rooney drops 10 yards deeper than usual to nullify the effect of Mikel Arteta and co. having so much time and space on the ball, meaning it also has the potential to be a cagey affair, especially with both teams confidence dented.
It has all the ingredients to be a game where both teams would rather not lose than go all out for a win. Oh, how times have changed. Proceed with caution.