Friday, May 20, 2005

FA cup final - Arsenal and Manchester United - the final dance of the season

The FA Cup is rapidly approaching, Arsenal vs Manchester United, the dream final that all football fans wanted to see. With everyone putting in their $0.02 worth: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/c/chelsea/4565127.stm (are we seeing the start of a Mourinho - Wenger rivalry which would make sense since the teams share the same city). But I am sure that those of you that have read this blog are waiting for my breakdown of the finals, so here we go:

  • Goalkeepers: Neither team has a pair of "safe hands" to rely on. Carroll or Howard for Man U do not invoke a huge amount of faith. Lehmann is hot and cold, and when he is cold it is down right scarey (let us not even talk about Alumnia), but Lehmann has been playing well as of late, but that might be because there has been no pressure on Arsenal. Slight edge to Arsenal
  • Defense: Arsenal has made a great discovery in the 20 year old Swiss international Senderos. Partnered with Campbell with Cole&Lauren on a wings makes for a strong back 4. Man U also sports a strong back 4 anchored by Rio "I forgot to take a drug test" Ferdinand. The loss of Heinze will hurt but Man U has enough talent to field a strong back 4. I think that the experience of Man U will prove valuable, Senderos will be thrown into a game he has never experienced. Slight edge to Manchester United.
  • Midfield: Keane vs Vieira...what else is there? As fo late the Arsenal midfield has been clicking, Pires, Berkhamp, Cesc, Flamini etc have been playing the flowing football Arsenal is known for. But again, experience: Giggs, Scholes, Keane all have big game experience. The Keane - Vieira battle will determine who controls the midfield. I think the Frenchman will win over the Irish. Slight edge to Arsenal.
  • Forwards: Van Nistelroy, Rooney, Smith, Saha, Ronaldo...just too much fire power up front for Manchester United. No Henry for Arsenal...Van Persie has been on a nice run as of late but on such a large stage agains Manchester United, not sure. Edge to Manchester United
  • Bench: Whoever does not start up front for Man U will be on the bench. The arsenal bench will be young, but that can be beneficial late in the game when you need fresh legs that do not have too much mileage make runs at a tired defense. Push
  • Coaching: Wenger vs Ferggie. Both men have plenty of silverware, both men are strong willed, both men dislike each other. As much as Ferggie drives me crazy I cannot deny he is quite capable. Push
So what does this mean? I think we will see a tight final, one where manchester united's thugs, Neville and Keane look to intimidate the young Gunners - Van Persie, Flamini,Cesc, etc. While the Gunners look to find the rythm needed to crack the Devils defense. In the end I think that without Henry, Arsenal will not be able to control the flow of the game, unless Berkhamp, playing for a new contract is the maestro that he can be.

Final predictions: Manchester United 2 - Arsenal 1...it pains me to predict a Manchester United score but they were clicking this FA Cup run (while their premiership run has not been to stellar). Manchester has had Arsenal's number this season, and with the question marks greater on the Arsenal side I have to go with the experienced club from Manchester.

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