Robin van Persie scuffing a great early chance against Arsenal last season
Manchester United travel to Arsenal today to face their old adversaries and one of their own. Danny Welbeck will lineup for the first time against his old club, since Louis van Gaal deemed United’s former number 19 surplus to requirements, following the arrival of Radamel Falcao. The Colombian’s career at Old Trafford hasn’t got going following a string of injuries that has kept him sidelined. Welbeck has played more minutes and has netted five goals to Falcao’s single strike, which came against Everton back in October.
It is ironic that United’s last win at The Emirates came in January 2012, with Welbeck scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory. United have a very good record at Arsenal in the past fifteen years, only losing
three times since that 3-1 defeat with Barthez gifting Thierry Henry two goals. United have had some superb moments at Arsenal, with the 4-2 victory (at Highubury) and the 3-1 victory in the Champions League semi final – the pick of the bunch.
The title decider label may have disappeared some time ago, but a win is vital for both teams who are falling behind Chelsea, Southampton and Manchester City.
We caught up with Peter who blogs over at Le Grove. We asked him about Wenger, Welbeck and his all time Arsenal Xi – Did Gus Caesar make it in over Tony Adams? You’ll have to read to find out! You can follow Le Grove on Twitter @LeGrove. You can also read our answers on Le Grove regarding the game today.
1) What have you made of the season so far?
Oh my, what a load of garbage. I don’t think there’s a vision of who we want to be as a club. We’re quite unbalanced and the players have regularly looked flat and low on energy. It’s the worst start to a season I can remember under Arsene.
2) Are you a “Wenger out” or “Wenger in” fan?
I’ve been a Wenger Out kind of guy for many years. I think he’s overstayed his tenure. He hid behind a lack of money for years, when it was apparent to anyone who could look past sentimentality that he was failing tactically, in the transfer market and with his approach to fitness. Now we’re flush with cash, the performances aren’t improving and everyone is seeing the once great man for what he is. A bit dated and struggling to come to terms with the modern game.
3) What have you made of Danny Welbeck so far? Worth the money?
I think we landed a bargain. £16m for a player with that much experience really did feel like a solid move. Sure, he’s not elite at the moment, but he has many of the raw ingredients you look for in a modern Premiership striker. His build is impressive when you see him in the flesh, he’s powerful, he has explosive pace and he finds space. His control needs work and I feel like his finishing has a way to go, but so far, pretty impressed with his impact. I know it’s a minor thing, but he’s always smiling… he looks like a good guy to have around the camp.
4) Where do you need to strengthen in January?
We need a centre back desperately and we need a player like Schneiderlin. I think we should also be looking at a keeper because our number one really isn’t that impressive.
5) Where do you think you’ll finish this season and what is your prediction for top four?
I suspect we’ll finish in the top four, as is standard. Spurs and Liverpool look to have big problems at the moment and I think the United situation might turn into a car crash as the season goes on. It’s a sorry state of affairs that you maintain the status quo because everyone around you is failing harder.
6) What have you made of United this season? Is van Gaal the right man to lead United forward?
I don’t have much time for Van Gaal of 2014. I think your injury pile up demonstrates that he’s not quite the man to bring back the glory years. Interesting that he looks to the training pitches rather than his approach when formulating his response / excuse. I think he’s quite the narcissist. You’ve made a second bad appointment. My concern for United is that’s a lot of money you’ve plundered again. The balance of your squad is so poor. We’ll see though, he certainly boasts a better tactical approach than our manager. I’m not sure he’s bringing back the glory years.
7) Robin van Persie or Cesc Fabregas – who do you prefer and why?
Cesc Fabregas. I’ve seen some incredible talents in my years as an Arsenal fan, but he’s right up there with the best. He doesn’t have power, he’s pretty slow, but his speed of thought is mesmerising. I still love him. I know he wanted to come to Arsenal, but we couldn’t bring him in. It was a mistake, but who knew Wenger was planning on playing Ozil outwide?
I don’t have too much beef with Robin. Ultimately, at 29, he moved to win a trophy. He won that trophy. I know he was sad about leaving us, but you know what? You only get one career. Who wants to leave it without a trophy when you have that talent.
8) Who is the greatest United player you’ve ever seen?
Wow, huge question. There have been so many greats. I used to love watching Roy Keane, such an imposing figure. A man who had the power to beat you on reputation. Ronaldo is an obvious. What I loved about him was the way Fergie grew him. He turned up a gangly teenager and left a gladiator, what a powerhouse. So dominant. I remember being at the Emirates waving my flag in the Champions League, he stepped up to a freekick and silenced the ground from 30 yards. No more flag waving. I also think EVDS was one of the best signings under Fergie. Underrated, but what a keeper.
9) What is your most memorable Arsenal vs United match at Highbury/Emirates and least favourite!?
So many amazing matches over the years, but the most memorable was sitting in the stand behind the goal Thierry Henry flicked the ball up and smashed it over Barthez. What an incredible moment. Those years were some of the greatest between the clubs. Hopefully those days will return one day.
10) What is your all time Arsenal Xi, with three subs and gaffer!?
I’m going for performance here, not love.
Manager: Wenger (1998-2004)