By 1970’s Gooner
There are three strong reasons why Arsenal will prove to be more than a match for Manchester United next Sunday at the Emirates.
1. A defensive midfield player was missing against Aston Villa
The absence of Alex Song who was away at the Africa Cup of Nations meant that Arsenal’s midfield lacked his strong and powerful presence.
I like Ramsey but along with Denilson they were too meek to be able to control and dominate that midfield area. This meant that the Arsenal forwards as well as Fabregas were not provided the service that they usually get. Both players were also not able to provide an attacking threat.
The probable inclusion of Song for next Sunday’s game will be quite a different proposition.
His ball winning skills for a start will be an added boost that was so desperately missing against Villa.
But what he has added to his game is the ability to turn and go forward with the ball after he has won it.
This is quite important as he takes players out and drives the whole team further up the field taking the game straight into the dangerous areas.
2. Bendtner will add height, strength and more variety up front
Eduardo is out but the big Dane is in. I am glad that Bendtner is back. And I am glad he is replacing Eduardo who has been improving lately but not fast enough nor to the quality level that is required.
Eduardo would I think have been the one to make way even if he were fit.
So we will not only gain height and strength up front we will also be able to add variety to the attacks.
The long high ball that Wenger wrongly accused Villa of playing will now be a viable option for Arsenal. This was so evident against Villa when Bendtner came on. The Arsenal players were able to play high to him and the ball suddenly started spending more time in the opponent’s half.
Before that Almunia’s clearances and Sagna’s crosses were coming straight back into our half putting our (young) midfielders and defenders under more frequent and unnecessary pressure.
Bendtner showed against Villa that he could hold the ball under pressure and bring other players into the game.
This is so important as Arsenal’s style of play demands that all its forwards and offensive midfielders join the attacks. But in a 4 3 3 system they need time to get there. Eduardo wasn’t able to provide it.
3. Manchester United’s defence will be poorer for Ferdinand’s absence
Enough about Arsenal’s strengths. I feel that a weakness for Manchester United will be their defence.
The absence of Ferdinand will take a lot of their defensive prowess away and the right back position has also been a problem for them having to rely on the young and inexperienced Da Silva. I can see Arshavin running rings around him.
However it looks that Sol Campell may start against United (unless Wenger decides to play Song there) and Rooney may well run rings around him! And of course Van De Sar is a better goalkeeper than Almunia.
So all in all both defences will have their weaknesses for this particular game but Ferdinand’s absence will I think make it a more level playing field.