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An Arsenal fan’s perspective
So I have been following the “would neutrals want United to lose?” discussion over past couple of days. I posed this question to myself — would I rather City or United win the derby? – and found this to be a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Why, you may ask?
(As I have previously mentioned in this esteemed forum, and as I don’t really expect anyone to remember this) I grew up supporting Arsenal (starting 2001) in an era when Arsenal vs. United was the only big rivalry on the block. Beating United was the second biggest achievement (after winning the title, of course). And though this fixture brought out the extremely competitive side of me, there was always respect for United for winning all these trophies the right way (barring a few notable exceptions).
Then came the amazing downfall of Arsenal and for the past 13-14 seasons, I had a newer point of comparison for United in two other teams that sprang up to take our spot — Chelsea and City. For reasons that every Arsenal fan will cite and every Chelsea and City fan will diss, I naturally disliked everything about these two teams (well, in case of City, not everything — some of the football they play is amazing). Anyway, these two teams represent (almost everything) that us Arsenal fans are brainwashed into thinking that our beloved club doesn’t stand for i.e. buying your way to trophies, not cultivating youth etc. (I know this is also a point of debate, but let’s leave it for another day). So, even though United has my respect if not the support, City and Chelsea have neither.
So, on the basis of that, I should want United to win against City, right? That will not only mean City will lose but also ensure that they can’t touch perhaps the only lasting legacy of the golden days of my beloved club – an unbeaten season. But this is where things become complicated.
If there is one man who truly represents everything I hate about the expensively acquired football teams that buy their way to success, its Jose f***ing Mourinho. No matter what he achieves, he will never have my respect. And its always a joy to see him lose and then make up a ton a hilarious excuses to unsuccessfully deflect attention from himself and his team. So, it would be a treat to see (as someone suggested earlier) City putting half a dozen goals past the best ‘keeper in the world.
So where do I stand on this question? Heart says City but my brain tells me it should be United. What is left is just a lot of confusion.
Any other lads who are experiencing similar states of mind?
Ahmed, Pakistani Gooner in Istanbul (Chelsea sacked their best ever manager … twice!)
Why United might win
I feel Man Utd will not be beaten by City on Sunday and they may well win.
When I watched Liverpool and Arsenal play against City I was surprised at how high City’s back line was and how open they looked.
Liverpool went a goal behind in a game that was 50/50 but we had our chances prior to Mane’s sending off. Salah fluffed one or two and we looked like we could get in behind them whenever we wanted.
Mane got sent off and that was that. I am not saying Liverpool would have won but before Mane’s sending off I thought we were defo gonna get a few goals. It was just could we keep City out. We didn’t. End of.
Arsenal were much the same. They were one pass away in the early stages of that game from opening City up. City eventually gained some control and KDB scored a worldy. Arsenal got themselves back into it in the 2nd half and it wasn’t so obvious that City would win it 3-1. They were helped by a goal that should have been disallowed however if you have to start chasing the game against City you are likely to conced from their counter attacks. And so to Man Utd the team best equipped to tackle City head on. They will get space in behind City and they have the players to exploit this but more importantly they are better defensively than Liverpool & Arsenal. They may be able to keep City at bay yet spring lightning counter attacks and carve them open. I think they might just. City look a little but sluggish recently. Their starting 11 will I assume have a good rest before this game though so maybe they’ll be back at 100% for the derby. If I was a gambling man I’d be on the draw but gun to head to pick a winner I’d say Man Utd.
Gough, LFC, Dublin (Best not to go down to 10 men in the first half against City. Things start to get ugly then)
Lingard v Nani/Hard work v ability
I’m sitting here quite smugly as a United fan this week, as I have always liked Jesse Lingard as a player and also thought he was more low on confidence than ability, it’s good to be proven right even if it is only a short spell of awesomeness. He seems fairly down to earth as well, for a nearly 25 year old multi-millionaire, in that he is happy to do the hard work as well as the goal scoring bit, and although he’s not the most naturally gifted, he’s making the best of what he has.
Thinking about it, he’s kind of the polar opposite of Nani, who had all the talent in the world to be amazing but obviously couldn’t be arsed half the time and only occasionally turned it on. I shudder to think of what Mourinho would have made of Nani, mincemeat probably for not tracking back, ever. In the mean-time, what Mourinho thinks of Lingard will be clear by his team selection against City, if picked it’s an admission that Lingard can be relied upon in the games where Mourinho will surely defend first and attack second. If Lingard is on the bench despite two of his best performances to date, back-to-back, then Mourinho must surely be parking the bus and doesn’t see Lingard as defensive minded enough, in that scenario expect to see a midfield of Herrera and Fellaini. I really, really hope that doesn’t happen!
Paul, Man Utd
Players who would have been better in another position
Following on from this and seeing David Luiz’s name appear once again in a footballing naughty-list, I couldn’t help but give a rueful smile.
I’ve personally held since I first saw him play, that Luiz is a very fine footballer, but he is not central defender in a million years. As I see it, the main requirement to play in central defence is positional discipline and awareness, and, more than that: a temperament that allows you to put the needs of the entire defence above your own intuition and initiative; to prize structure and cohesion above individual brilliance. These are precisely the qualities Luiz lacks most abundantly.
Luiz is a player who loves to be involved in play. He often comes out of position and take charge of play with a quick press, a strong tackle, a surging run. Everyone knows this, and the smarter and more capable teams, players, and managers can easily identify and exploit him as a weak link in the Chelsea backline (that is, when can successfully bypass him).
I should clarify that I’m not saying Luiz is a liability per se. The -shall we say- ‘effusive’ aspects of his game have plenty of their own upsides. But the way Luiz plays does leave an option for sides to exploit, and leaving an open door even a few times a season is too much of a risk for elite sides to countenance, especially one built in the mould of Conte’s Chelsea.
Though there has clearly been some effort, over the years, by various managers, to change his predispositions, and coax a great defender out of him… at the end of the day, Luiz always reverts to form. This is a great shame, because he really is a class act otherwise. His work rate, dedication, instincts, athleticism, and skill means there’s an awful lot for anyone to work with.
But you know what position Luiz would be great in? In central midfield. As a Midfield Destroyer, positioned next to a more conservative partner.
Luiz’s energy, the way he anticipates play, his tackling, his passing, his all-action style… all those would be beneficial to that role. By playing as a central midfielder he would be able to focus on making the opposition worse, whilst shouldering none of the defensive responsibilities (that he currently can’t consistently meet).
Imagine a midfield pairing of Kante and Luiz for the better part of a season. Those are two guys you don’t want to try and dribble past, because you know you’re likely going to lose the ball, and will probably wind up with bruised knees too.
So an open question: who else do you think is pretty good, but would make (or would have made) a better player if they were played somewhere else?
The perfect signing for Liverpool…
Amongst all the talk of the Premier League’s latest games, it would be easy to forget that there are several other leagues in Europe playing some good football.
One of those games was at the Camp Nou over the weekend when Barcelona hosted Celta de Vigo. Somewhat mirroring the Arsenal – Manchester United game, this was also a truly barn storming affair full of counter attacking football from Celta along with lots of missed chances and some truly terrific goal keeping comprising to contain Barcelona to “just” two goals.
Best performance of the night, however, came from a certain Mr Iago “Corner Kick Specialist” Aspas, who ended the game with a goal and an assist to his name to bring his goal tally for the season to eight in La Liga while playing as a number 10, also roaming to both wings to find space.
His performance was truly spectacular with all of Celta’s good attacks either starting from or having the final pass come from him. In fact, his goal only came after his teammate missed a one on one chance with the keeper by a great pass from Aspas on the counter, showing great composure in making sure his shot was high enough to be out of reach of the keeper and anticipation to put himself in a good position to follow up on the blocked shot.
He seems perfect for a team that likes to press and counter attack at pace. A team that plays good football, regularly does better against the “big” teams than everyone else but is just too limited to ever win the league. Celta have won just one Intertoto cup and a few runner up places in Copa del Rey, having also reached the semi finals of the Europa league last season.
Kind of like Liverpool, in other words. Before all the Liverpool fans scream in agony all at once, causing a disturbance in the football fabric, just consider – when was the last time any Liverpool player scored and assisted in the same game away at one of Europe’s “heavy weight” clubs.
A question for you all
Long time reader, yet to be published and I thought it’d be interesting to see what people think.
I’m currently sat in a hotel in Barcelona, on a thinly disguised work jolly where we’re being treated to tickets for the champions league match tonight at the Nou Camp, vs Sporting Lisbon.
There’s a group of 14 of us, mostly pretty excited – and last night over Tapas, one of the chaps confessed to me that he’d never, in all his life, been to a football match, at any level.
For the life of me, I can’t decide whether seeing the Nou Camp in all it’s glory, as your VERY FIRST FOOTBALL EXPERIENCE, is going to be amazing for him……..or, if it will mean that from now on, that will be the norm and any other experience of football will seem a bit of a letdown….
Draw your own conclusions
Some great derbies and chances of upsets
They’re still going to show Utd v Derby aren’t they!!
How to stop City
I think everyone is missing the most important way to stop Man City this season……be Wolves.