Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Old rivals now new rivals + Arsecast 51

Morning all. The build-up to tomorrow’s game is building. Upwards. As you might expect. Building downwards is just not the same.

Headlines such as ‘Top 2 set to play each other in football’ and ‘Stars have nothing to say about one and other’ just don’t create the same amount of hype.

The best thing about tomorrow’s game is that we don’t need Sky Sports’ dramatic promos or any kind of fakery to build things up. It’s something I touch on in the Arsecast as I chat to a Man United supporting mate – that the rivalry that existed between us for so long has been a bit watered down over recent seasons. There are lots of reasons for that. United went through a little period of transition, as did Arsenal in the last couple of years. Then you have the big personalites from those games and they’ve all gone. Keane, Vieira, van Nistelrooy, Keown etc. The games were built as much around the two teams personal dislike for each other as football. Robert Pires reflects on some of those games.

Now though we’ve got a young Arsenal team playing fantastic football and, something that’s overlooked, a fairly young United side who are also playing fantastic football. There’ll be time for personal battles to develop but tomorrow’s game is all about two teams at the top of the league fighting for the title. Two teams that love to play an open attacking game and hopefully tomorrow’s match will reflect that.

United have the confidence of winning the league last season and they’ve probably just got the edge in terms of experience. However, the boss is confident that his team can come through this test and continue to fight for the title, saying:

Manchester United is another big test for us, but because of the way we are playing and the confidence we have, we are much stronger. I always had confidence we could fight for the championship.

It shouldn’t be overlooked that we beat United twice last season and our record in the ‘big games’ was very good (one blip at Liverpool apart) but this is an incredibly tough game to call. They’ve only conceded 4 goals in the league all season so you can’t imagine it’ll be a goalfest. They’ve also scored 4 in each of their last 4 games so the boys at the back will have to keep up their good form.

We’ll have a better idea of what our team might be later on. I suppose the only thing the boss has to decide is whether he’ll play a 4-4-2 with Eduardo/Walcott or a 4-4-1-1 with Hleb behind Adebayor. If he goes with the latter the choice of who plays on the right hand side of midfield is interesting. Eboue or perhaps Diarra who impressed against Sheffield United during the week. Anyway, a more team based preview in tomorrow’s blog. Now a quick round-up of the main stories.

Emmanuel Adebayor reveals he snubbed an approach from United in the summer (sounds a bit unlikely, I have to say) and that he’s loving it at Arsenal. In an Arsecastariffic quote he says:

I did the right thing in signing a new deal with Arsenal — a four-year contract. I am just like a baby boy who was born in this club. It’s a family team, everyone loves me — and the fans, the players, the boss . . . we are all like brothers.

Heh. I can hear him in my head right now, I’m just trying to think of an appropriate cheesey 80s song to go at the end of it. The big man is due a goal now, let’s hope it comes tomorrow. I remember Rio Ferdinand saying last season that the player he least liked playing against was Adebayor so hopefully the wonky-mouthed one will have a hard time tomorrow too. He also talks about Cesc and how he’d turn down Real Madrid to stay at Arsenal.

Cesc talks to the Daily Mail. I love Cesc.

Robin van Persie talks about how the English league’s referees not offering enough protection to the likes of Cesc and Cristiano Ronaldo. He says:

You have to stay within certain boundaries. You prepare yourself for a battle, especially when you go north. That’s not a problem. However, I do have a problem when Fabregas is brought down and someone ‘purely by accident’ plants his studs on his neck.

Quite right too. He really does love Blackburn, doesn’t he? He goes on to describe Cesc as the best in the world at the moment, alongside Lionel Messi. No arguments here.

 

And that’s that. More on the United game tomorow. Now, Arsecast time.
Arsecasts

In this week’s Arsecast I chat to my mate Brian, who supports United, about tomorrow’s match. He was a good luck charm last season so fingers crossed it works this time (not that that’s the only reason I spoke to him. I certainly value his insight and knowledge of the game…*cough*…).

The Man in the Bar has a player history, AWH is in there, you can win a Savile Rogue scarf and there’s other stuff too.

As always the Arsecast is sponsored by OleOle.com – and listen out for details of how can win a trip to Tokyo for the FIFA World Club Cup 07 via OleOle.

To subscribe to the arsecast in iTunes – click here. To download this week’s arsecast directly – click here (15mb MP3). You can find the arsecast archives here. And you can listen directly below without leaving this very page.

[audio:http://arseblog.com/podcasts/arsecast_episode51.mp3]

Right then. Have a good Friday. Talk to you tomorrow.

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