May 01 2011

Arsenal vs. Manchester United: United Aiming For Key Arsenal Away Win

Arsenal

Starting Lineup: Wojciech Szczesny; Gael Clichy, Laurent Koscielny, Johan Djourou, Bacary Sagna; Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere, Alex Song, Theo Walcott; Robin Van Persie, Aaron Ramsey

Subs: Jens Lehmann, Kieran Gibbs, Sebastien Squillaci, Emmanuel Eboue, Andrei Arshavin, Nicklas Bendtner, Marouane Chamakh

Manchester United

Starting Lineup: Edwin Van der Sar; Fabio da Silva, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra; Nani, Anderson, Michael Carrick, Park Ji-Sung; Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez

Subs: Tomasz Kuszczak, John O’Shea, Rafael da Silva, Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia, Dimitar Berbatov, Michael Owen

Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United


Apr 30 2011

What Should Be Manchester United’s Starting Lineup Against Arsenal?

Were there as many bumps, nicks, scrapes, strains, sprains, and so on in the Manchester United squad as there were throughout the Manchester United squad as there were earlier in the season, the current stretch of United’s stretch run would make for a serious selection headache for Sir Alex Ferguson.

After taking a decided advantage in our Champions League semifinal against Schalke with a dominant 2-0 victory in Germany on Tuesday, United’s focus this weekend returns to trying to move within a win of the Premier League title as we visit slumping Arsenal at the Emirates tomorrow afternoon.

There won’t be much time to rest after the visit to north London, with the return leg against Schalke on Wednesday night at Old Trafford. As much of a formality as some might think the second leg is with United two away goals to the good and Old Trafford being a veritable European fortress, there’s still some work left to do after Manuel Neuer’s masterpiece, combined with a few glaring misses for United, prevented the tie from being 100% decided in Gelsenkirchen.

Despite the Gunners’ recent struggles that have not only seen them miss multiple opportunities to close the gap on United, but fall to third and nine points back of us, you can be sure that Fergie will send out a strong side with the intent to take all three points ahead of next weekend’s potential title clincher against Chelsea. However, he must do so with Wednesday on his mind as well, even with what amounts to a commanding lead against visiting Schalke.

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Apr 29 2011

Do Manchester United Have A Realistic Chance To Sign Manuel Neuer?

Up until Tuesday, I hadn’t had an in-depth look at the keeper who, for quite a while, has been a heavy topic of conversation among Manchester United fans, including several who share their opinions on a regular basis on Red Rants.

Quite often, when it comes to an up-and-coming young stud, Mr. Next Big Thing, hype and potential can outweigh talent and present and future production.

However, it took me all of 45 minutes to see that Manuel Neuer is as good as advertised, and that if he isn’t already, he has every chance to be the best keeper in the world sooner rather than later. To a certain someone who knows who he is (or should, at least), take a bow and bask in your rightness.

As I mentioned in the Schalke match report, it’s rare for me to pay close attention to a keeper’s performance, but I couldn’t help but do so on Tuesday. Part of it certainly can be attributed to the fact that Neuer has been so heavily linked with United and I wanted to make the most of the opportunity to see why, but even if that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have been able to help but take notice, because he commanded my attention like he commanded his area.

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Apr 27 2011

Schalke 0-2 Manchester United: Ryan And Roo Come Through As Dominant United Overcome Neuer’s Brilliance

Sometimes, you just know.

In yesterday’s match preview, I tried to convey that feeling as well as possible without explicitly saying it, so as not to seem overconfident or as if I was underestimating the opposition, or in other words, put the ‘jinx’ on.

But just like I had the unrelenting feeling that the goal would eventually come against Everton (and on a related note, that the lovely blonde-haired, blue-eyed lady I was watching with is ‘The Special One’), I just knew that last night was going to be a special one for United.

And so, through a frustrating first 60-odd minutes, underneath all of the colorful language that filled the house, I kept that unrelenting faith.

Fortunately, so did United, and it was rewarded in due time, not once, but twice in quick succession. Almost 70 minutes of frustration was made better in the span of a couple, and as a result, we’re 90 minutes away from a third Champions League final in four years.

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Apr 26 2011

Manchester United Aim To Overturn History In First Leg Of Schalke Semifinal

For every truly elite football club, the objective at the start of every season is win the highest honors, to be the very best of the best and nothing less.

And so we enter the most important week and a half in Manchester United’s 2010/11 season, with those objectives so close, yet still so far away. After the next 13 days, the picture will be far clearer on just how successful this campaign has been and will be for United.

180 minutes from a Champions League final in your home country. 180 minutes from securing English football’s most hallowed record.

The first step begins tonight, and as tough as Sunday’s trip to Arsenal and the following Sunday’s visit from Chelsea will be, tonight’s showdown with Schalke looms as the toughest one of all, even if our opponents are lying 10th in the Bundesliga, markedly closer to last-place St. Pauli than likely champions Borussia Dortmund.

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Apr 25 2011

#19 For Chicharito Breaks Brave Everton As United Close In On #19

Different opponent, same old story.

It would seem that it could perhaps get tiring to keep seeing and saying the same things, but given the results that have been produced more often than not, and what United are on the verge of, I’d have to say no.

A certain amount of good fortune is usually required when chasing any sort of championship, and Lady Luck came through for us yesterday afternoon after the excellent Tim Howard had done so well to keep United at bay and off the scoreboard for more than 80 minutes.

That stroke of luck came courtesy of one Sylvain Distin, who put himself in serious trouble with poor positioning and an inability to quickly and properly deal with a ball that should have been hoofed away. After failing to redeem himself with a poor sliding clearance attempt, Distin could have done so had Antonio Valencia’s cross taken an Everton bounce, but to maximize his misery, it instead went right to its initial intended target.

It should’ve come as no surprise who rose perfectly to meet it at the back post, and he fully atoned for inadvertently keeping the match deadlocked up to that point. The waning moments proved to be a little nervy, as Everton did push for an equalizer, but once again, it was Javier Hernandez saving the day in a crucial win for United.

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Apr 22 2011

Will United Deserve The Premier League Title If They Can Hold Off Arsenal and Chelsea?

With a six-point advantage at the top of the Premier League table with only five matches remaining, it would appear that it’s only a matter of time before Manchester United are crowned champions.

However, with games left against both title rivals, Arsenal and Chelsea, and the Champions League still sharing part of our focus, there are who seem to be a little less assured that will secure historic #19 in the next few weeks.

Earlier in the season, Sir Alex Ferguson said that the target total for the title was 84 points, and with United currently on 70 after 33 matches, five wins in five games would see us surpass that target by a point. Last year, that amount wasn’t quite enough to claim the title, but were we able to reach that mark this season would mean a rather comfortable title triumph. But with Arsenal and Chelsea only able to max out at 79 points, managing 10 points from here on would be enough to get the job done, even if one of those two happens to beat us and win their other four as well.

10 points the rest of the way would make for the lowest title-winning total since the 2000/01 season, when United’s 80-point haul bested Arsenal by 10 points. With such overall averageness in mind, there have been more than a few questions about whether or not United truly ‘deserve’ to win the title, given that the results and the performances haven’t exactly been vintage United.

Will United be able to close the deal over the next month, and if the title is wrapped up, whether it be at Old Trafford, the Emirates, or Ewood Park, will we be deserving champions?

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Apr 20 2011

Poor Finishing Costs United Dearly In Disappointing Newcastle Draw

The good news: As far as goalless draws go, last night’s scoreless stalemate at St. James’ Park was about as entertaining as they come.

The bad news: Manchester United are perhaps in the entertaining business only in the preseason, and come late April and May, it’s 1000% results, 0% anything else.

And with that markedly more important objective in mind, United have picked a terrible time to suddenly forget how to put the ball in the back of the net.

On Saturday, United were blanked for only the fifth time in 51 competitive matches this season in the FA Cup semifinal defeat, with Dimitar Berbatov’s 15th minute horror missing sticking out as the miss of the day in in an overall forgettable 90 minutes.

Prior to that, United had scored – not counting any own goals – 98 goals in 50 matches (69 Premier League, 12 Champions League, 8 Carling Cup, 6 FA Cup, 3 Community Shield), and given that we hadn’t been blanked in competitive matches in more than two years and that the in-form duo of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez was once again starting up front against a suspect Newcastle defense and a reserve keeper, you’d have expected a real bounce-back effort on the attacking end.

Unfortunately, it appears that whatever bad vibes from the Wembley defeat carried over to last night, because to say that United’s finishing left something to be desired would be a serious understatement.

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