Man U v. Arsenal; Champions League semi-final first leg

This is the moment we have all been waiting for. I’ve got the yellow Eduardo strip on. Aveline has her yellow strip on. The fans have all traveled to Manchester, the field has been plumped, the team talk has been laid and the prawn sandwiches are being prepped.

The pundits have had their fill of the history between these two teams; the famous fights, the iconic images, and the records. But all that history could be blown away in just 90 minutes. It’s not likely, because these matches are often tense, controlled affairs with the home side desperate not to concede the all important away goal.  But this has been a crazy a season, and if today’s match didn’t reflect that insanity I would be shocked. Is a 4-4 draw in the cards? I think it’s totally possible, Man U have been conceding goals lately(Liverpool hung 4 on them, Porto got 2, Villa got 2, and even Spurs got 2), meanwhile Arsenal are on a tear (14 goals in the last 5 matches) and once the away team score, it becomes more important to get a few goals. So, I’m expecting an early goal from Arsenal to open this game up and then I think we’ll see a classic.

I tried to wait as long as possible in order to give you a lineup but none are forthcoming as of this posting. You can check ESPN, BBC, and the Telegraph for the latest lineup news on your own if you like, I won’t have time before the match to do any updating (I have to get some work done before the match.)

My predicted lineup for Arsenal is


Sagna     Toure     Djourou     Silvestre

Song     Nasri

Walgod     Cesc     Diaby


My predicted outcome is 2-2 with goals by Ronaldo, Silvestre, Adebayor, and Giggs. A 2-2- draw would be a good outcome for the Gunners (though it didn’t help Porto!) in fact, any draw would be good for Arsenal, the thing we want to avoid is a humiliating defeat or a mental collapse, like Spurs on the weekend. But like I said yesterday, it doesn’t matter to me what happens, of course I want Arsenal to win, but whatever happens I’m proud to be a Gooner today. This team has slogged their way through the muck of this season and have taken the pen from everyone who wrote them off and jabbed it squarely in their eye. Nothing they could do today would surprise me and I’m expecting them to put in their best performance of the season… so far.

Anyway, if you’re lucky enough to be here in town, come on down to Doyle’s and raise a pint with me.



  1. I really want to be there. Might try to show up a little late if my slave driver of a boss (Keith haha) lets me out early. FMU

  2. Wouldn’t a win be lovely? Everyone including us gooners is expecting a draw at most. UP THE ARSE!

  3. Great post Tim. I read them all the time. I’m a west coaster too and wake up in the dark just to watch my beloved Arsenal on the weekends. Let’s hope for an away win today! *spn360 is on and cheering (silently) at work. C’mon GUNNERS!

  4. All right guys, I’m off to the pub, here’s the lineups:

    Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Silvestre, Gibbs, Song, Diaby, Fabregas, Walcott, Nasri, Adebayor.

    Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Ronaldo, Tevez, Rooney.

    I got it all right but the Gibbs inclusion.

  5. Well, we’ve got courage, have to give the lads that much. Down 1 and we dont’ sit back for anyone, but by not imposing ourselves and giving the ball away cheaply we’ve created our own problems.

  6. And after 17 mns we’re down 1 from………..a set piece. Somehow I’m pissed but not surprised we conceded from a corner. Our defense looks very much under pressure and we haven’t created much chances as yet while the Mancs look like they want to put 5 past us like they did the Spuds. Why is there no Djorou to deal with all the crosses coming into our box?

  7. good spell of possession, but we cannot allow them to march across midfield uncontested!

  8. We’re passing around their half alot more now but in truth all the passing doesn’t look like it will materialize in the end. We’re definitely lacking the the so called “final third” and making passes that Manu cannot possibly get on the end of, while the Mancs look like they have acres of space at a time to operate when they go forward. We’re slowly getting into the game but that’s a luxury we cannot afford against the European champions.

  9. Look at the goal. There are 5 Arsenal players at the near post, but no one in the far post…
    leaving 3 ManU players unmarked…
    A Bad mistake…very very bad.
    Simply because there is no fixed left midfield; who plays there? Nasri?
    Let us see what happens in the second half.
    Even if the Arse are to lose, get an away goal…
    Otherwise our season will be over…

  10. We just look isolated in attack and they’ve got all kinds of options moving forward. Ade against vidic and rio was always going to be a big ask, which is why we need numbers going into forward but they’re so disciplined getting back our counter attacks are blunted.

  11. OK I’m confused. Wenger has had Eddie all this time and puts on Bendtner before him and takes off Ade? Even worse only gives Eddie 10 minutes to try to nick a goal? By the way Nicky made a splendid pass right to Rooney earlier – maybe Fergie would like to buy the Dane in the summer.

  12. bendtner, if we can nick one that would be a dream result. just fire it into the box now.

  13. I’m getting tired of trying to defend Nicky and his “potential”. If he is still to develop then he needs to be sent to the reserves or on loan for more playtime and experience and not cock up easy chances in big games. His football needs to start doing the talking and right now his displays are a pantomime.

  14. Bendtner looked so lost. Where is his eye for goal? We should have played nasri up top instead of diaby. Nasri seemed to put in the surge forward and keep the ball unlike diaby. All in all, a 1-nil scoreline isn’t the worst thing for us. Also, silvestre played up to par and Almunia was top notch.

  15. Well, 1 – nil is not insurmountable, but they were just more experienced and a bit more powerful today. All considered a fair result as we chased the game much more than we like. The boys will need a lift at home. I dunno WC, if we had taken off a defender to put on another forward we might have risked a lot, 1- 0 isn’t the end of it, but i think it may be tough to overcome no matter who we put out there, i think we miss arshavin’s all around play, and they are looking fairly solid right now. Ade may have gotten a bit heavy legged and well bendtner can head the ball, but we just weren’t enough today, but it’s not over. What really bothers me is that troublesome trend of not being tenacious enough in midfield defensively, we are geared to fluid forward play but we couldn’t really disrupt their attacks the way they did ours.

  16. I don’t see why we’d have to take off a defender to accommodate Eddie. To be honest I don’t even know why Bendtner was on the field. Ade did alot of work and I cannot fault him in this game because he’s going up against quite possibly the best central defensive pairing in the world so it’s alot to ask him to take them on by himself. I’d much rather Diaby had come off because he was poor……….again. Ade/Eddie pressuring Vidic/Rio with pace and power while Cesc operates from deep to supply them with balls suited to their respective size and speed. As it was Cesc is pushed up the park only to be snuffed out and denied space. This isn’t a Middlesborough defense and Cesc in the hole doesn’t work against teams that actually have a clue.

  17. Clearly bendtner and others should be on loan, but we’ve gone with youth and unfortunately that’s where we still are. I do believe we need added power as well, iv’e maintained we lack the personnel to play 4-4-2 against top teams, clogging the midfield with five slows us down and just won’t get it done in terms of scoring esp without arshie, can we rely on fab’s shot as a real outside the box threat. Ade had one good chance, we couldn’t take it and that was that. We chased a lot today and i hate to say it but they looked far too comfortable for much of the match.

  18. I would have preferred a Denilson-Song on the middle and Nasri wide left. Diaby wide def doesn’t defend nor attack well. Or bring Bendtner wide for diaby as 1st sub. All in all, it was a cheap goal from bad defending. Aluminum had a terrific game, my MOTM, otherwise we would have been kissing goodbye to the cup.

    We’re in a good position to go to the final. I hope the Emirates awakes and makes for the 12th man that will be necessary to do the task.

    Also, Silvestre was at fault for not clearing the ball for their goal, but aside from a couple of other mistakes, he made an ok defending. Gibbs looked a lil nervous but after some minutes ht got the rhythm.

  19. I would have preferred a Denilson-Song on the middle and Nasri wide left. Diaby wide def doesn’t defend nor attack well. Or bring Bendtner wide for diaby as 1st sub. All in all, it was a cheap goal from bad defending. Aluminum had a terrific game, my MOTM, otherwise we would have been kissing goodbye to the cup.

    We’re in a good position to go to the final. I hope the Emirates awakes and makes for the 12th man that will be necessary to do the task.

    Also, Silvestre was at fault for not clearing the ball for their goal, but aside from a couple of other mistakes, he made an ok defending. Gibbs looked a lil nervous but after some minutes ht got the rhythm.

  20. Denilson would just have added insult to injury. Diaby, playing out of position on the left wing, left Gibbs in total isolation. When Ronaldo moved inside Gibbs had to track him, which left O’Shea free all day because Diaby was not covering. Nasri tried to pick up the slack, but that left Song to contend with 2 Manure MF’s.

    It was just terrible team defense.

    Walcott was man marked and instead of cutting in to allow space on the wing just sat on the byline all day and was totally innocuous because of that.

    Almunia saved our bacon with some great saves, but never helped our cause by punting every ball down field to an isolated Ade with Vidic and Rio all over his back. Why not throw the ball to your WB’s or DM to start the attack in an organized fashion like Manu, Barcelona, Liverpool and every other good team does.

    Without Arshavin, we simply looked clueless on counters and in the final third. No way we are going to beat Manure by 2 goals at home, and remember, if they score an away goal a tie on aggregate makes them the winner.

  21. no one was there to link midfield with attack. we looked sluggish in comparison to united in attack. we need the arsh power to penetrate in ganes like this. song and diaby were too lethargic for this game , imagine flamini and hleb in their place and we would have had a lot more possession

  22. My Man of the match no question goes to almunia. Its not his fault our striker and mids couldn’t win a 50-50 ball when he punted. I got the feeling that if he rolled it out the fullbacks would pass right to Tevez and then stab while he runs past.

  23. The match was very difficult to watch, it felt like United was going to score every time they went on attack. Over and over again, they opened us up like a hot knife through butter – a tired cliche but it really works here – and over and over again, with one exception, they came up empty handed. Say what you will, but we held an in form United to one goal on their pitch, that is nothing to sneeze at (har har, swine flu, har har).

    The goal we did allow was a spitting image of the goal we allowed at Villareal – anyone else notice that? I am sure you did.

    It is really unfortunate we couldn’t snag an away goal, but I really do not think a 2-0 win at the Emirates is out of the question. Or we could just do what Roma did: nick an early goal and play for penalties.

  24. Oh, and off topic here, but Howard Webb was picked to officiate the FA cup final, so we would have lost anyway. The semi-final loss to Chelsea doesn’t sting that much anymore.

  25. was it just me or did anybody else notice that the espn commentators and “pundits” were having a free go at gibbs? i thought given the circumstances gibbs did fine. there was one particular moment when gibbs appeared to have fouled ronaldo and tommy smyth commented that ronaldo hadn’t had a single call go his way. upon replay, it seemed like gibbs got the ball and very little of cron. cron, in typical cron fashion, threw his cron hands up in the air and made that cron face that he makes very well when he doesn’t get his way. but i just dont understand why these jackasses at espn were trying to make gibbs the scapegoat for our poor showing today when it was really just down to our midfield.

    all in all, im really glad we got away with a 1 nil defeat – thanks mainly to almunia. rooney and tevez were constantly creating havoc and it was really worrying, specially when rooney switched flanks with cron. diaby – for all all the things he did wrong as he usually does – helped gibbs when he needed it and im grateful for that. but i felt that we missed rvp heavily today. he brings a totally different dimension to our game when he drops from the fwd position on to midfield and sparks so many of our attacks by a simple flick or a pass. ade tried doing that with his very first touch today but instead of flicking it onto the fwd rushing diaby, he passed it straight to fletcher. i knew that very moment that it was going to be a long day at the office for us.

    anyways… we could’ve been finished off today but we are still very much in it. i hope we get rvp back before the next leg and i hope wenger plays cesc in a deeper position leaving diaby on the bench. i believe we will finish the job next tuesday. c’mon arsenal! c’mon arsenal! c’mon arsenal!

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