By Bulldog Drummond
No sooner is one member of the “big six” swatted away with ease than up pops another one ready to be dealt with.
But the big news is that Manchester United have finally got their new manager. He is a Mr Erik ten Hag of Ajax. This means that since Sir Alex Ferguson left in 2013, they have had and lost Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær, plus two caretakers and an interim manager. Six managers in nine years. In this time they have won the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League. Arsenal, by comparison, have won the FA Cup four times (to give us a grand total of 14) and been somewhat more restrained in their buying in of managers.
But moving on to the present day, Arsenal are clear favourites based on the home and away performances of the two clubs this season.
|8||Manchester United away||16||6||5||5||24||27||-3||23|
And rather interestingly if we take the last 10 games played by each team, which of course includes Arsenal’s run of three successive defeats, we find that still, even with that run, Arsenal have gained three more points than Manchester United during this spell overall.
And indeed we also win on home v away games
|10||West Ham United||10||4||2||0||8||4||0||1||3||3||8||-1||15|
What’s more, we also see that Manchester United have won only one and lost three of their last four away games, while Arsenal have won three and lost two of their last five home games. A slight advantage to Arsenal in the recent games.
On the other hand, the fan base of Arsenal are clearly not fully convinced since on Thursday evening there were still plenty of tickets available for tomorrow’s game. I don’t hope those hearty roughs from Cornwall and so forth, who support Manchester United, won’t be tempted to nick the “There’s nobody here” song.
But really the problem with Manchester United seems to be one of an ever-continuing belief in the entitlement of winning things. In the last four seasons, they have come second twice, third and sixth. They have been beaten finalists in the FA Cup and in the Europa League. No trophies, but some close-run things. And in response, they keep on changing their manager which, just like eternally buying new players, is never a guarantee of success.
As for injuries, we know that Kieran Tierney is out for the season, but Lacazette was back on the bench for the glorious victory in the week, so it will be a real managerial choice of whether to play Nketiah or Lacaz from the start. Whichever it is the other will surely be used as a sub.
As for Takehiro Tomiyasu, the boss has said, “Tomiyasu is very, very close. We will decide today after the training session.” But that is a decision on the squad, not on whether he starts, so I suspect he won’t be risked in this game. But he could be back for the next.
The latest on Thomas Partey is that, “The news that we got after another assessment is not looking very positive for his availability this season. At the moment we’re not very optimistic.”
Manchester United on the other hand seem very profligate with injuries these days…
Edinson Cavani seems to be definitely out. Along with Luke Shaw, Paul Pogba. Mason Greenwood is still under arrest and charged with the most heinous of crimes. Raphael Varane’s condition is uncertain – he was seen recently but apparently was just working with the rehab coaches, nothing more.