Ahead of United’s home game against Arsenal, we talked to Lee from Lady Arse about their Capital One Cup game, Robin van Persie, last year’s fixture and much more.
What are your thoughts on Arsenal’s start of the season then?
Arsenal started really well, a lot better than I think most people were expecting, Arsenal fans included. The new signings settled in quickly, even Olivier Giroud who has had a rough time in the press despite scoring three goals and creating four, and things looked really promising. Then we had the international break and the team seemed to be unduly disrupted by that which led to the defeats at Norwich and at home to Schalke. Those defeats were worrying for a number of reasons, but mostly for the attitude which Arsenal showed which has been a problem over recent seasons, turning up to certain games thinking the win was already in the bag.
Your last game ended 7-5 (vs Reading in the Capital One Cup). After such a promising start to the season defensively with Steve Bould being lauded left, right and centre, surely being 4-0 down so quickly was a bit surprising?
Unexpected, yes. Surprising? Perhaps not. Arsenal showed all of their worst traits in the first 40 minutes or so of that match, even though it was completely different personnel. The attitude was so poor and was indicative of a problem that has reared its ugly head on more than one occasion. Thankfully in the second half they showed that they do actually care about the shirt and turned it around. That was perhaps even more surprising than being 4-0 down in the first place as we have been on the wrong end of score lines like that more often than not.
On the other hand, what a comeback! When did you start thinking “We can win this”?
I put a bet on Arsenal when we were 3-0 down but at that point it was more out of hope than expectation as we were playing so poorly. When Giroud got the second and the team really started to play, that’s when I thought ‘We can do this.’ Of course, at the back of my head I was thinking we’d probably get it back to 4-4 only to concede a fifth in the last minute of injury time. It was amazing to be the team grabbing it late on.
Speaking of goals, you started the season with a new look strikeforce. Have Giroud and Podolski lived up to the expectations of the fans yet?
Giroud is a better player than the press gives him credit for. He works hard and his hold-up play is impressive and he’s powerful too. He’s been getting in all the right places and just lacked a little bit in front of goal but there are very few Arsenal fans that don’t think he can do a job for us. As for Podolski, he’s won the fans over completely with his attitude and ability. He’s been playing with a bit of an ankle-niggle for the last few weeks, which is perhaps why he hasn’t been quite as effective as he was early on.
It would be rather hard to conduct this interview without mentioning a player who left Arsenal this summer for Manchester United. What did you think of the whole Robin van Persie saga?
I can’t lie; I’ve never felt a betrayal like it in all my 33 years of watching football. We truly believed he was an Arsenal fan and that, even if he didn’t stay, he would go abroad. His statement hurt a lot of fans and him leaving to go to Manchester United could have only been worse had he went to Tottenham. Manchester United fans might not see the rivalry with Arsenal as strong as it once was, but for Arsenal fans it is still very real. Am I bitter? Totally. I’m angry about it for many reasons.
Who do you think Arsenal will miss the most over the course of the season: Robin van Persie or Alex Song?
I want to say Alex Song because I don’t want to say that we miss van Persie at all, but what club in the world wouldn’t miss a player of his calibre? After the years of injury problems he suffered that Arsenal stood by him through, he is finally fulfilling the potential Wenger always knew he had. And he’s doing that for Manchester United, it’s sickening. As for Alex Song, to be honest, he’s pretty much forgotten about. Mikel Arteta has dropped back and shows a discipline in that position which Song could never master.
This fixture last season is one that most Arsenal fans will want to forget. Can you see a repeat performance from both sides or will this year’s clash be more evenly matched?
When we turned up at Old Trafford last season, we knew we were going to get a hammering (though no Arsenal fan thought it would be so bad). We were decimated with injuries, playing practically a League Cup side. There’s no way we will see a repeat this year and it will be a far more evenly matched game.
Which of Manchester United’s weaknesses do you feel Arsene Wenger will try and exploit on Saturday?
I think we have a stronger midfield than United do, with Arteta, Cazorla and Wilshere, three small players who are all technically gifted but strong and not afraid of a tackle as well. On the flanks I think Evra is there to be got at, he’s not the player he once was and Walcott is on fire. Of course, Walcott might not even start after playing 120 minutes midweek after just returning from injury.
Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Robin van Persie seem to all be scoring for fun at the minute. Do you think that Arsenal can contain such a strikeforce?
Despite the five we conceded in the Capital One Cup, it will be a different backline at Old Trafford and Arsenal have the best defense in the League at the minute. It will be their strongest test yet, but I think we should cope.
(@neilljacko) If Wenger were to step down tomorrow who would he like to see replace him?
Honestly? I wouldn’t have a clue. I can’t imagine Arsenal without Wenger (and yes, I do remember Arsenal before him). Of course, the obvious answer would be someone like Guardiola, but I’m pretty sure Arsenal are getting Steve Bould ready to replace Wenger.
(@TomPattison) If Arsenal’s 2003 unbeaten side played Arsenal’s 1998 double winning side-who would win and why?
That’s a great question, and a tough one. Defensively the 1998 side were better and offensively the 2003/4 side wins for me. Can I say a draw? If I’m pushed for an answer, I’d have to go with the 03/04 side, purely because of the Pires/Bergkamp/Henry factor.
Predicted line-up and score line.
Sagna – Mertesacker – Vermaelen – Santos
Arteta – Wilshere – Cazorla
Walcott – Giroud – Podolski
Regarding the score line? I’m going for a 2-2 draw.
Thanks to Lee from LadyArse for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you follow her on Twitter here: @LadyArse
I am a 21 year old half-French, half-English Manchester United fan living in France but studying Russian and Spanish at University in England. Thrown into the world of football at the tender age of 7, it has fascinated me ever since. I have no affiliation with Manchester yet have proudly supported United for 13 years.