The Manchester Massacre
Manchester United and Arsenal prepare to do battle at Old Trafford in the English Premier League Saturday. The same fixture last season provided one of the most amazing scorelines in English football history, with an 8-2 victory for Manchester United. Can we expect another feast of goals this time around?
One player who is set to take centre stage in the game is Robin van Persie. In light of various controversies regarding alleged discrimination that have rocked the league this season, Arsene Wenger has pleaded for respect from Arsenal fans towards Robin van Persie—this being the first time that the striker has faced his former club.
We all knew how good Robin van Persie was, but question marks existed over how he was going to fit in to the Manchester United side when he made the switch in August. So far, he has fit into the Manchester United side superbly—providing some real touches of class up front, rescuing points and winning games—Arsenal will rightly be very wary of his goal threat.
Alongside the Dutchman, United’s team would seem to suggest itself—probably mirroring that of the victory over Chelsea last Sunday. Only one of the players from the match at Stamford Bridge was involved in Wednesday’s League Cup match, Rafael, who put in a fine performance. Sir Alex Ferguson will probably rue the fact that the young Brazilian full-back had to play the full 120 minutes as the senior defender in that match.
The one change in the team that I think Sir Alex will make from the starting eleven against Chelsea would be Paul Scholes coming in for Tom Cleverley. Whilst Cleverley has played well, has a great energy and is always looking for the quick forward pass, I believe that resting Scholes for a week or so and the guile and accuracy of passing that he provides will be a major asset to combat a clever Arsenal midfield, where Santi Cazorla is starting to pull strings.
Despite many worries about its personnel, the Red Devils’ midfield is looking like providing many options for Sir Alex at the moment. We are seeing the rise of Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher is returning to action, a terrific performance from Anderson during the week bodes well and we have yet to see the best of the injured Shinji Kagawa. The wingers at the club are all fit and fighting hard to win and maintain a position in the team, too.
A year on from the Manchester massacre, you would say that the signings Arsenal have made and because they have a much healthier roster of players than their under-strength team last time out should make sure that a similar scoreline would not be possible again.
Take a quick look at the results of both teams during the week in the Capital One League Cup, though a total of 21 goals being scored in their two games (albeit, both with teams that were much removed from the usual first 11).
Also, consider Arsenal’s slow start to goal-scoring in the English Premier League this season but persistent question marks against their defence, paired with Manchester United’s free-scoring but even more defensively frail start, we could be set for another goal-fest on Saturday.
I think United's probable line-up will be—David De Gea, Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Johnny Evans, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.