It is absolutely 100% conceivable to argue that the best football on your television this weekend is soccer. Manchester United versus Arsenal. Ghana vs. Egypt in the Cup of Nations. No college and the gimmick that is the NFL Pro Bowl…no argument.
For those that remember the preamble to this Sunday’s match, it ended with Arsene Wenger walking into the stands like a petulent child–and probably rightfully so–after he was thrown out by the referee for a somewhat dubious reason…was it kicking a water bottle I believe.
In the front end of the series, Arsenal outplayed Manchester United at Old Trafford with Andrei Arshavin dialing up a killer strike to put Arsenal ahead one-nil. You just can’t call it a mere goal it was a strike.
Wayne Rooney then created a penalty kick on a questionably legal tackle by Manuel Almunia in the box. 1-1.
Abou Diaby decided to play the ball into his own net (2-1 Devils) and finally Robin Van Persie netted the equalizer only to see it called back for offsides (and rightfully so.)
A quality contest. At the time of writing this, Man U stand one point from the top of table, Arsenal at just two. Wow!
This Sunday, the game will be at the Emirates. Wenger’s squad comes in still attempting to deal with the loss of Van Persie and Bendtner up front; Sir Alex’s squad comes in with a gathering chorus of fans and pundits questioning if the Red Devils rely too much on Mr. Wayne Rooney.
So what’s with the USMNT reference above? (I expect to get heat for this one as somewhat of a leap.)
Take a look at Sir Alex’s squad.
Quality goalkeeper in Van Der Sar? Check
Injuries along the backline? Affirmative
Inability to move the ball effectively and create offense through the center of the pitch? Yup.
That inability to move the ball up the middle the result of two primarily defensive midfielders who are aggressive and borderline reckless tacklers (I’m speaking about you. Sir Darren Fletcher)? Again, yes.
A player of the same ilk (and once of much better quality) than Landon Donovan on the left? Giggs, circa early 2000’s, untouchable.
A completely dominant top 5 global player who is on a scoring tear striking up top?…..oops! Can’t help you there.
Beyond the Rooney contract, you’re looking at a very similar set of strategy and tactics executed by better player at Manchester United.
So when watching the game today….and isn’t it pretty cool that some will be watching in 3D, take a look at how Manchester United uses, abuses, or gets abused on the wings against Wenger’s 4-3-3….because the US is going to see a lot of the 3-front offense against England come June 12th with Rooney, Defoe, and either Gerrard or Lennon pending which side the ball is on.
And let’s all hope potential EPL defender of the year Thomas Vermaelen is in there insteal of Statue Campbell.
Read more on Arsenal at quality blog, Arseblog
I’m not up on Manchester United blog, but I found this one interesting.