The biggest day of the season so far is upon us!
With Rio expected to start after returning to training today and Giggs’ suggesting that if United approach this second leg the same way they approached the first, United will reach the final for the second year running.
After United’s dominant display at Old Trafford last week, eyes will be fixed at The Emirates’ tomorrow for the return leg of this all British tie. The PFA player of the year Ryan Giggs who made his 800th appearance for United at the weekend is more than confident of a repeat performance at The Emirates’ tomorrow night. “If we play to the ability we did in the first half last week we will have no problems. We went out to get the crowd going and play at a quick tempo. That is what we do when we are at our best. Arsenal are a top team and they are capable of scoring goals so we are under no illusions about how difficult this is going to be. But our form in Europe has been excellent and we are in a good position.”
Who could argue with our welsh veteran, I am confident that if this so called ‘3rd or 4th’ gear that we seemed to have stepped into since the second half against Spurs, I have little concern regarding the second leg at The Emirates’. The first leg was a joy to watch despite the lack of any additional goal to add to O’Shea’s 17th minute opener. I marvelled at United’s fluid movement on and off the ball whilst Arsenal played a traditionally direct style which involved the majority of their play through the middle third of the field which United absorbed with ease. In particular, I thought Anderson (despite his poor crossing ability) was without question one of the best players in a red shirt last week. His surging runs and long ball vision was second to none. He pressed, moved into space and generally caused huge problems for Arsenal’s midfield quintuplet. In addition to this with Rooney’s in such a rich vein of form I wouldn’t fancy anyone’s chances against United with Wayne’s name on the team sheet. He has been sublime, playing out of position an umpteenth number of times this season with great effect, (does anyone else think he’s starting to make the left wing position his own?) Even though against Arsenal last week he lacked a significant attempt on goal (except for an early looping header), he has been exceptional in maintaining possession for United, as well as surging forward and cutting inside to shoot.
Personally I live with 3 Gooner’s which makes this tie all the more special. Despite this, each one of them are surprisingly intelligent and can admit when their team have been played off the park. United did just that week and let me be honest with you I know apprehension when I see it and it’s written all over their faces. Wenger has tried to come out and cover his blushes at last week’s embarrassment by ‘promising’ his side will produce a “magnificent” team display to overcome United on Tuesday. I think it honestly laughable for a manager of his calibre to come out and proclaim that he is “very confident the team will produce a magnificent performance and that we will manage it. We are aware it’s our team performance that will be important rather than the responsibility on any individual.” What a tit. If he is trying to pressure he team into producing a performance then this could all blow up in my face but from past experience I can’t see this having an overwhelmingly positive effect on his young team. Let’s face it, if we nick an away goal (which if we play as we have done for the last week and a half, shouldn’t be a problem), Arsenal will need 3 to see them through safely. Imagine the how his players will feel considering Wenger’s comments if they go 1 down. Some might argue that getting this goal to begin with is a more difficult challenge that I am making out, but as Scott has clearly outlined, in any one of the results in the previous 3 games against Arsenal at their new ground would see us through tomorrow and onto the final in Rome.
Finally in other starting eleven news it’s looking better for Evra who limped off on Saturday. Fergie believes the left back should be fit enough to travel to London for this crucial second leg. Anyone who is travelling to ‘The Libary’ tomorrow be sure to get yourself heard and cheer the lads through after finally our great support has been getting recognition.
Thanks again to Joe Davies