By Eros, Arsenal Analysis resident season ticket holder at the Emirates (North Upper Stand Row Q)
Some friends forwarded me a link to a Man United website that had a post comparing the two teams. After reading it I am convinced that all football fans are mentally unstable…. myself included!
Anyway here is my assessment of a player by player comparison of the two sides and my starting eleven of a combined Arsenal / Man Utd team.
Surprisingly both teams have goalkeeping problems. Jens is prone to moments of madness and after the start of the season he had I simply cannot make a case for him to be included in this team.
Almunia has been in good form but his errors during the Spurs game have made me lose some faith. I expect him to show more consistency with more games.
Van De Sar was beginning to show his age last season but so far has been consistent.
Selection : Has to be Van Der Sar
Eboue is not our starting right back any more and Sagna has only a few League games under his belt so he is relatively untested yet. He has however shown that he is a natural and tenacious defender and also technically gifted like all Wenger’s players.
Justin Hoyte is good but not that good. The Neviller would have won this one by default but since he is not playing due to a long term injury with uncertainties about maintaining his standards when he returns Sagna gets the nod.
Selection: Bakary Sagna, I love lasagne!
Ask any Arsenal fan if they would change Kolo for any centre back in the world and I guarantee that very few would.
He is comfortable on the ball, links the defence with the midfield effortlessly and has pace to burn. I don’t care if Rio cost £30m he doesn’t get a look in, in this team.
Selection: Kolo Toure; the African Emperor
Gallas has not yet worked out how to make his partnership with Toure work, as they are both very similar players. Vidic is one of only a few United players that I would have no real problem in picking for my team.
He is an old school no nonsense defender and great in the air at both ends of the pitch. He is the type of player that could propel Arsenal to the title.
Selection: Nemanja Vidić
The French national coach does not agree with me as Evra is in the French national squad and Clichy has not yet been called up. My feelings for Domenech can be summarised in two words; but 1970’s Gooner is too old to contemplate printing any swearing on this blog!
Anyway Clichy is fantastic going forward, has tremendous fitness levels and improving with every game on his defensive positioning. In my book he is the best in the league.
Selection: Gael Clichy; better than Ashley Cole
Giggs and Nani are too old and young respectively; Rosicky started the season very well and scored some important goals for us.
His all round play especially his tracking back has vastly improved. He has finally settled well in his position on the left and if he manages to stay fit then he is in for a very exciting season.
Hleb is a "new" player this season with his ball skills and play making unmatched by the other players mentioned here for this position. But he is really more of a playmaker than a winger and his goal scoring ability is lacking.
Selection: Czechmate. Rosicky gets this hands down
I think central midfield are the two positions that will be most furiously debated especially since United have spent obscene amounts of money while Arsene spent the huge, for his standards, amount of £2m on Diarra!
No contest between Gilberto and Carrick as the Brazilian is in a whole different league in my humble opinion. Hargreaves is a good player, it’s a shame he’s gone to United but is he as good as Gilberto? I think not.
Gilberto has a tremendous sense of positioning, the ability to read the game exceptionally well and anticipates dangerous situations well before the begin to develop.
This is particularly useful when trying to prevent the opposition teams from counter attacking effectively.
He is the corner stone of the Arsenal way of playing as he frees everybody around him to go forward, especially the full backs.
This is essential for Arsenal as the wide midfield players tend to come in rather than hag the wings and it is the full backs that provide a lot of the width in this team.
Flamini has put in some fantastic performances for Arsenal culminating in his best so far in the demolition of Sevilla; but I would still put him behind Gilberto.
Selection: Gilberto Silva; the Brazilian samba king
I have the utmost respect for Scholes but at 32 he is not exactly in his prime. He had a fantastic season last year but even so the young Spaniard maestro just had to be in the team.
There is very little difference between the two players, Scholes used to get more goals than Cesc but not any more and the Spaniard has the edge in spotting and making a killer pass. He is also the better tackler of the two.
For a comprehensive qualitative and statistical analysis of the two players check out the excellent post: “Fabregas is a more effective player than Scholes” by 1970’s Gooner.
There are signs this year that finally Cesc has found his scoring boots.
If he manages to get around 15 league goals that will go along way in relieving the pressure from the strikers and also keeping Arsenal in the title frame.
Selection: Cesc Fabregas. The best midfielder in the world. Did you really expect me to go with anyone else?
I have been trying to find an angle not to include Ronaldo in the team however it’s impossible. Hleb would run him close but he has the strengths and weaknesses mentioned above.
Eboue on the other hand has not played in this position for long and he has not shown yet that he can put in consistent performances of high quality.
I hate to say it but I would pay good money to go and watch Ronaldo play, the best right midfielder in the world.
Selection: Christiano Ronaldo
Adebayor is largely unchallenged as one of the two forwards as Saha is always injured and Rooney and Tevez are similar players who are essentially fighting for the same position, that of a support striker not as front strikers.
So Adebayor’s only real competition is em …. Bendtner? Adebayor is a transformed player this season with improved ball control, distribution and especially finishing.
Saha is just as good but considering he is unreliable due to being injury prone I would choose Adebayor in my team.
Selection: Emmanuel Adebayor; the African lion
Front (Support) Striker
This is a race between Van Persie, Tevez and Rooney. How do you work this one out?
Let’s just start by saying that Rooney is a very good player. But – and this should not be a surprise to United fans – he is not as good as the media make out he is. He is still a great talent but he has not developed as we all thought he would.
That might be because of frequent injuries or simply because he lost his focus and needs to find his way again. It might be however that this is as good as he is ever going to get, which is still very good.
He nevertheless has tremendous pace and extreme power, is technically very good and that’s why I am baffled sometimes by the long spells he goes with out scoring.
Tevez has had a slow start to his United career but that is mainly the midfield’s fault as in the games I have watched the distribution going forward was abysmal.
He has the potential to be a great player; however I’m not sure how he and Rooney will get on as a pairing.
Finally, Robin Van Persie.
I was at Highbury when he got himself sent off against Southampton, with that silly challenge, I was sitting on the North Bank and for the first time I saw Wenger turn on one of his players in public.
I thought then he was gone. He got his head down however and improved his discipline and temperament on the pitch.
He scores memorable goals like the one against Southampton at Highbury, the volley against Charlton at the Valley last year and the goal against Inter in the Emirates Cup.
He also scores important goals like the one he got at the Emirates against United.
He has a hammer of left foot shot, which if it connects clean is very difficult to stop. Out of the three he is probably the most natural finisher.
Selection: I will go for Robin Van Persie; the new Bergkamp. But Tevez runs him close.
On the Arsenal bench you can usually find, Diaby, Denilson, Eduardo, Bendtner, Walcott, Eboue, Hoyte, Diarra, Gilberto/Flamini and Senderos.
These go up against Eagles, Fletcher, O’shea, Brown Sylvester, Park, Carrick, Nani and Anderson.
If it wasn’t for the last three then I’d say that Arsenal have the much better bench, hands down no argument. They did after all cost £60m!
But even so we still have the better bench! Eagles, Fletcher, O’shea, Sylvester, Park and Brown would not get anywhere near our squad.
Arsenal/Man Utd combined eleven
Van De Sar
Sagna Toure Vidic Clichy
Ronaldo Fabregas Gilberto Rosicky
Adebayor Van Persie
Substitutes: Lehmann, Gallas, Carrick, Roonie, Tevez,
Going through the two squads it is frightening to see that both teams have the same glaring strengths and weaknesses.
They both need to find goalkeepers they can rely upon and also strikers to compliment their main goal scoring threats.
Wenger’s way is to place his trust in youth, what’s Sir Alex’s excuse?
This is a personal view. What is your opinion? Who would you pick from Man Utd to play for Arsenal?
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