Posts Tagged ‘Man United’


Mancini’s dilemma – Dzeko, Balotelli, Tevez… Who should he pick to play Man United?

By Stefano on December 7th, 2012

Every other manager in the Premier League would envy Roberto Mancini’s selection dilemma ahead of the Manchester derby: he must select two from Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. That’s over £00m worth of talent.

Crucially, each player offers something different, meaning Mancini can alter the balance of the side subtly. Dzeko is a penalty box presence and a reliable target for crosses, but has proved more effective in the supersub role he dislikes; not only does he regularly score after coming off the bench, he’s been very quiet when handed a rare start.

Aguero is an interesting player, able to play two separate roles; either as a ‘number ten’ floating between the lines, or as the primary forward, using his incredible acceleration to burst in behind the defence. He’s a sure-fire starter, and his role will depend upon Mancini’s other forward.

Essentially, Mancini’s decision is this: does he play Balotelli upfront to get in behind the United defence, with Aguero behind, or use Tevez as the number ten and Aguero upfront? Both combinations were used against United last season, with Balotelli playing a key role in the astonishing 6- win at Old Trafford, scoring the opener and getting Jonny Evans sent off. Tevez was quieter in the -0 victory at the Etihad.

I think Mancini will be reluctant to field Balotelli because of disciplinary concerns, and Tevez has often been influential against United since leaving the club in 2009. His relationship with his compatriot Aguero works excellently, and with United lacking a proper defensive midfielder, Tevez’s work between the lines could be crucial.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans.


City will never overtake United – says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Is he right?

By Stefano on December 7th, 2012

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been turning up the heat on the eve of the Manchester derby. The former United striker has told the BBC that Manchester City are like a “little brother” who will never take their “big brother’s” place.

In a statement sure to wind up City fans even further Solskjaer said,: “It’s always this thing about being the big brother and the little brother coming to try to overtake the big brother. “That always happens in families and in clubs – the young player hoping to take the old player’s position – and City are hoping to overtake United. I don’t think they’ll ever be able to.”

Solskjaer, who scored 126 goals in 366 appearances for United is currently of Norwegian champions Molde, yet has been consistently linked with managerial positions in the Premiership.

The former player argues that United have a resilience about them which will see them continue to improve as the season develops.

Although both Manchester teams are at the top of the Premiership, neither has been especially impressive this season. United have conceded a lot of goals and have been forced to rely on Robin Van Perise’ amazing form to keep them on track in a similar way he rescued Arsenal’s season last year.

Meanwhile City remain unbeaten at home but have been inconsistent on their travels. They also now don’t have the distraction of the Champions League. Yet most bookies have United has favourites.

So what do you think? Is Solskjaer right?


Shock stats – If Robin Van Persie had stayed at Arsenal they’d be top and Man United would be 10th

By Stefano on December 3rd, 2012

So says The Daily Mail’s Martin Samuels.

So another difficult weekend for Arsenal in which they were outplayed by Swansea in the first half and then couldn’t find the net in the second only to succumb to two superb late Michu goals.

It was also business as usual – this season anyhow – for Manchester United in going a goal behind and then staging a great fight back to win three points against Reading.

It once again highlights the key differences between the two sides – Mr Robin Van Persie. Just as he scored for fun last season at the Emirates, his goals have propelled United to the top of the Premiership.

Now here’s an amazing statistic. Martin Samuel in the Mail has worked out that had Arsenal kept Robin Van Persie for another season and his goal rate stayed the same then the situation would be reversed. Arsenal would be top of the Premiership and Man United would have been mid-table stragglers.

Martin’s theory runs like this.

United have gone behind to the first goal of the game in 10 Premier League matches and in seven have come back to win. Of those seven, five have featured crucial goals from Van Persie, including the equaliser against Fulham, a hat-trick against Southampton and the winner against Liverpool.

Now consider Arsenal with Van Persie’s 10 league goals this season added to their total. Supplement a single goal from Van Persie to the draws with Sunderland, Stoke City, Manchester City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton; add an equaliser to the one-goal defeats by Chelsea, Norwich City and Manchester United. That is a difference of 15 points, or the current spread between Manchester United (top, 36 points) and Arsenal (10th, 21).

Ok, so it isn’t an exact science. For starters United would have another striker, and I don’t just mean Hernandez or Rooney – they would have made a big signing. Also Arsenal’s key problem at the moment appears not be actually getting the ball in the box to their strikers. They simply aren’t creating enough chances at the moment.

It does however underline the folly of Arsenal letting their talismanic captain and goal machine go to one of their biggest rivals. Ultimately Wenger could have kept Van Persie at Arsenal and seen him run out his contract. The Dutchman is professional enough (and savvy enough to know that a good season would keep his price tag high) to have continued his scoring  feats even though both sides knew he would be off at the end of the season. There is of course the argument that his presence in the dressing room would have been a major distraction, but then winning so few home games is a pretty serious distraction anyhow.

Ultimately Arsenal trousered £24 million for selling VP, money that is still sitting in their bank account. Failure to qualify for the Champions League will probably cost the side around that figure and at the moment, and unless they invest heavily in the winter, that’s still a big ask. Also Wenger has seven games to go before he can make any changes, on current form they could be closer to a relegation fight than the CL places.

The event that could change this season significantly would be a Van Persie injury, but there seems to be no sign of that occurring.

So is this another call that Arsene got wrong? Would a Van Persie injury scupper Man United’s season? What do you think?

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