United v Arsenal – Boil it down to what it is, us against them; quality players on each side (and Darren Fletcher). Who wants it the most?
Good afternoon people, I hope everyone’s weekend is going very well. This is quite a good weekend for football, I’m sure you will all agree. Apologies for the Sky Sports-stylee OTT approach to this weekend’s game against Arsenal but I like so many United fans, am extremely geared up for this game. Games against the Arse are always good, you get the feeling that each one of the United players on that pitch tomorrow will want it a little more – and so they should. Rio will want to stick Henry on his smug backside, Waynewill be wanting to fire on all cylinders again and every single solitary boo which Cristiano Ronaldo gets from the Arsenal fans’ will only drive him on. These weekends sell themselves, without the hype about this being essential to United’s championship push, it’s Arsenal versus Manchester United for crying out loud. That fact is enough to make it an explosive day.
Don’t believe the hype, however. This will not decide the destination of that league trophy, not even close. Chelsea may lose today (and they look like they will) and go on to win several more games, we may win tomorrow and play like donkeys for the rest of the season and in the end these games will mean nothing. In my opinion, talk of titles is not necessary for Manchester United. We should play this match like a cup final and not get bogged down in the meanings of the possible results, we can think about what the result means for the league if and when we get it. If we go into this game thinking that we are okay because Chelsea have lost, or on the other hand, that our season is over if we don’t win, we run the risk of fluffing our lines. Boil it down to what it is, us against them; quality players on each side (and Darren Fletcher). Who wants it the most? This is what seasons are remembered for but the games against so called lesser teams are just as important as and often harder to win than the ‘bigger’ ones. That is exactly the reason the United lad’s must keep themselves grounded and almost isolate this game in their heads, from the bigger picture of the season. We can worry about that afterwards.
Arsenal, and especially Arsene Whinger will have you believe that they are still in the title race and whether or not you believe that, that will be enough of a reason for them to really turn up against us tomorrow. Add to that the added bonus of apparently tripping us up in our bid for the league title and we have a team that will be very much up for the game. Teams and players are especially dangerous, it seems, when they stand to gain little from the game other than causing us trouble. Look at Tony Cottee and his goal for Leicester at Old Trafford, he went out of his way to let everyone know that he hoped his goal had fatally wounded our title hopes. West Ham seem to have built a lot of their recent history, and a lot of pride, on the amount of times they have fatally wounded our season. Never have a team been happier than when they get to stick one on United. I hope we don’t give Arsenal the chance to do that on Sunday.
Let us not take it easy because Chelsea have already dropped points, let us instead go out there and take the game to them. If we sit back because of what is unfolding (or will have unfolded at Anfield) we will undoubtedly suffer the kind of sucker punch we had to endure against Arsenal at Old Trafford. The United boys know what it means to get a result over them, let alone what it would mean to the title. I believe and trust in them to do their best. Whatever the result on Sunday though, I will still be a United fan on Monday morning, we’ll still have a great team and we will still be in the title race. That’s my sensible self. The other half hopes we play them off the Ji Sung Park tomorrow, grab the match by the scruff of the Arse and beat them – no excuses, no “I think their goal was off side” from Arsene, no “I think we were the better team despite our loss!”
At 5.25 on 21st January 2007 I will be celebrating, because that is the time of my birth twenty five years ago exactly. How much more I celebrate that day really depends on the way things go at the Emirates. It’s a game. A big game against a team I love to see us beat. Viewed as that alone, this will be one Super Sunday.