Rewind to the early 2000s, it was all about Arsenal and Manchester United, later Chelsea came into the equation. Fast forward to 2013 and all you see is an Arsenal decline. The team which used to compete for all the top domestic honours have been reduced to mere challengers for a place among the top 4. The transformation has been astounding even for the neutrals. Now what they created is coming to bite them hard on Sunday.
When Robin Van Persie departed the Emirates, he had only won the F.A Cup and that was 8 long years ago. The last time Arsenal fans ever saw their team celebrate a cup success (except the Emirates Cup is now massive for them). Tomorrow evening, the Dutchman who struck 30 league goals in the Premier League for them last season, returns as Champion of England.
Something last achieved by the INVINCIBLES who have all jumped ship. Arsene Wenger let his then captain leave for 24 Million Pounds. Now he returns to his former home with 24 League goals and a winners medal (although not yet given).
The Red Devils won their 20th EPL title six days ago with a convincing 3-0 win over relegation threatened Aston Villa. Fittingly and acting according to the written script, Robin Van Persie struck a finesse laden hat-trick in 33 minutes-the fastest in the League in nine years. The 2nd was reminiscent of the one time volley he hit v Everton at the Emirates last season.
Finally, he is a Premier League winner. Something that eluded him in his 8 years as a Gunner. Just one year as a Red Devil, he is about to hoist his maiden trophy. Man United also helped Michael Owen add a winners medal to his collection two years ago. Steven Gerrard could be next….who knows?
Arsenal come into this match on the back of 5 wins from their last six games in the League. Only Everton have taken a point off them in that spell. Nonetheless, it is the Champions who are in town. A team they haven’t done well against in recent fixtures. They won’t forget in a hurry how they got thumped 8-2 last season and 2-1 in the reverse fixture. It was 2-1 again at Old Trafford earlier this term.
Arsenal’s last win over Manchester United came in May 2011 when a sweetly struck Aaron Ramsey goal was the difference at the Emirates. A repeat of that will be appreciated by Arsene Wenger, but the scorer should be someone else..lol. The North Londoners are going to be pumped up for this crucial game. They are locked in a London battle with Chelsea and Spurs on who gets the automatic slot for next season’s Champions League Campaign. It is a wonderful experience for those who support neither outfit. The tension- soaked affair is expected to drag on until the end of the season.
An Arsenal win tomorrow will put them in a great position to at least finish fourth if third is beyond their reach. Traditionally (at least since 2006), they always come good during the tail end of the season to end it on a high. Consolation for not fighting for the EPL title. Something they last managed to do in 2008, and eventually fizzled out when it became fierce.
Overrated Englishman, Jack Wilshere has been hampered by injuries yet again this season. Despite his limited time on the pitch, he was surprisingly chosen as a YPOTY (Young Player Of The Year) nominee. Among the six (Hazard, Benteke, Lukaku, Bale, Welbeck and Jack), he least deserved such recognition. Even though he gets much more praise than the effort he actually puts in, he does play with his heart on his sleeve and when fit, is one of the best young players in the world. He seems ready for the big time.
A good performance tomorrow will go a long way to assuage the doubts people have about him. Santi Cazorla, perhaps one of the best midfielders of his generation and by a country mile, Arsenal’s best player this season, was unfairly overlooked for the POTY award. That hasn’t deterred him one bit. The Spanish footballer hasn’t been too effective in the last couple of weeks because he has been featured on the left side of midfield where his performance will be restricted.
Arsenal’s qualification for Europe depends largely on what he does right. Starting from tomorrow, the gunners have four finals to play. To win all of them, Santi must be at the forefront of everything Arsenal do right.
Robin Van Persie is the happiest man in football right now. A hat-trick to seal Manchester United’s 13th Premier League title and his first was an excellent conclusion to a fabulous season. He will walk out of the tunnel as a Champion. The major reason why he made the move to MUFC. The 20-20 marriage has blossomed beyond his imagination. When he joined, he said the ‘LITTLE BOY’ in him told him to switch allegiance. That ‘kid’ has been vindicated. He added that he chose the NO 20 shirt because he wants to help his new team claim their 20th Premiership crown. That again has been achieved. It is a dream come true for the Dutchman and everyone attached to the red army.
Despite the disappointments of elimination from the Champions League and the FA Cup, this has been celebrated like none other and May 12 will be like the last day at school for each and everyone at the CLUB. Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the contribution of the Dutchman this season and even likened his impact to that of King Cantona. I can’t agree more and others have concurred. 24 league goals (one for every million pound spent on him) and 8 assists have been nothing short of extraordinary.
Now he is going to walk through a GUARD OF HONOUR made up of his former colleagues at a club where he spent eight years with one of the greatest managers in History as his tutor. He thoroughly deserves all that he will tomorrow evening and as SAF said in his pre-match presser yesterday, he wouldn’t be disturbed by chants, boos and abuse from supporters who once hailed him as the best in the business. How the cookies crumble.
ARSENAL- Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Arteta/Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky, Poldy, SANTI, Walcott.
Lukasz Fabianski is still nursing the rib injury he sustained three weeks ago, so Wojciech continues in goal. Oli Giroud starts his three match suspension tomorrow, while Mikel Arteta is a doubt after feeling something at Craven Cottage last weekend. If he doesn’t make it, Wilshere will sit deep, with Rmsey-Rosicky-and SANTI ahead of him. Poldy will support Walcott in attack to make up for the absence of the Frenchman. Arsenal have shipped in 21 goals at the Emirates this season and have failed to keep a clean sheet in 12 of their 16 home games already.
Their away form is better in this regard; only 14 goals conceded is the best in the Division. Arsenal have taken the least points (4) from fellow members of the top 5 this season. Others have taken at least 6 more. Arsenal were the last team to win the Premier League with 4 games to spare. Their last triumph in this competition in 03/04.
MANCHESTER UNITED- DDG, Rafa, Rio, Vidic, Buttner, Jones, Cleverley, Kagawa, Nani, RVP, Chicharito.
There will definitely be changes to the line up on Sunday. With the Title sealed last Monday, the mighty reds of Manchester will make alterations to the team. Carrick and Evans will be rested after playing through pain last time out. Cleverley has played for a while. So are Nani and Chicharito who have had limited time on the pitch. The little pea has been unfortunate this season. He has still scored 16 goals and made his presence felt. RVP could have been rested, but I feel and think Fergie will even make him captain for tomorrow’s encounter just to rub it in more and make it spicier.
Wayne Rooney has scored landmark goals for Manchester United against Arsenal. His first ever League goal was against Wenger’s men in 2002. he also hit his first for MUFC in the League against tomorrow’s opponents. His 100th in the League was also against Arsenal at the Emirates. He just loves playing against them, doesn’t he? He might be rested alongside Valencia and Evra. Anders Lindegaard is 2 games away from reaching the mandatory 10 appearances in the League to be eligible for a medal. Fergie will decide when to field him.
Ashley Young is out for the season….he will get a medal, though.
We wish all the nominees GOODLUCK at the PFA POTY AND YPOTY Awards ceremony tomorrow night…..GO FOR THE KILL….
Written by Ohiskaka Eboreime
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