Carling Cup aside, We’re All Man-Utd-Obsessed.

All bubbling along nicely these days – just a day to go before the Man Utd game. *dun dun dun*.

Arsene Wenger has said that a year’s extra experience means we are less likely to run into last season’s problems, where Carling Cup commitments saw the team fizzle out in the FA Cup and Champions League (ditto the League). In a rather shocking article from Sky Sports, Arsene seems to suggest that youth will be the full emphasis on this year’s Carling Cup, with experience only thrown in if absolutely needed. Wenger says:

…it also depends on the injuries. Last year I sacrificed some players at the end of this competition and we paid for it in the Champions League and the league so it depends on that. When you get to a semi-final you have two legs so you need a little bit of experience and that’s what I did last year and in the end it caught up with us.

Wenger’s thoughts on yesterday’s match can be found here. To Saturday’s Man Utd clash, then, and Adebayor is relishing the matchup – as are most pundits – saying it’s matches like these that he’s been dreaming of since childhood. He’s not letting illustrious names get to him, or the team for that matter, saying:

But the most important thing for us is that when any team comes to the Emirates Stadium, no matter who they are, we want to take the three points and go home. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t we all, Ade? There are many strategists out there who reckon that Man Utd will actually favour a dour, kicking game as opposed to the brilliant open play that has kept their very good form going of late. Of the players most likely to resort to such things, you’d have to say Ferdinand, Evra and Hargreaves might pull a few niggles – but it’s rather churlish to fancifully predict they would come out trying such things. Keep it down to ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if…’s, for now. Arsenal.com has a more PR-drenched civil take on things.

Continuing with Saturday’s match, and speculation is mounting that Gilberto may finally break into the starting XI for the match, more than likely in favour of the in-form Matthieu Flamini. God, you could not ask for a harder-to-call decision. Flamini was slightly off-colour against Liverpool, admittedly, and Gilberto’s experience is almost inumerable in comparison. It really comes down to what style of football Arsene will be looking for against Manchester Utd.

If he wants a faster tempo right from the start, Flamini is the only answer. Gilberto would undoubtedly be favoured for a big night in Europe, but for this type of clash, I cannot see Flamini being left out of the starting line-up. As much as I love Gilberto, his inclusion would be a defensive decision, an almost intimidated decision. Flamini will bring the game to United (or, conversely, take it away from them further), whereas Gilberto would invite the attacks.

Manchester haven’t faced a team of the likes of a Flamini-fueled Arsenal (he really is having that good a season to be using such superlatives), whereas they have played more Chelsea-dour-type teams, and come through. We’re a different team, and a different test. A much greater test, and for that reason, it should be the same approach as the Anfield game: Flamini starts, Gilberto to come on.

In other news, a despicable player gives his thoughts on the game coming up, and Arsene Wenger really doesn’t want Liam Brady to leave for the Irish National Coaching position.

Match preview to come tomorrow – some work has been done behind the scenes with regards to match tactics and presentation. I really hope you like the little things we’ve added (graphically). All the best in the meantime…

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