The Arsenal fans are feeling apprehensive in the Transfer Tavern ahead of their trip to Old Trafford this afternoon on a day which could see Arsene Wenger stood on the touchline at the theatre of dreams for the very last time.
Arsene Wenger has sent his Arsenal side out into battle at Old Trafford on countless occasions throughout his career at the club and plenty of those clashes have been characterised by a burning rivalry which has rather fizzled out in recent years. The French manager has struggled to get the better of his opposite number Jose Mourinho down the years, but on his final trip to Old Trafford it’s about time his players gave him a result to cherish.
On paper, there is very little to play for as Arsenal’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League rest on their Europa League bid and United’s place in the top-four has effectively been secured, but after his iconic stint at the club Wenger’s players should be desperate to give him the send off he richly deserves.
Wenger has not tasted victory at Old Trafford since September 2006 when Emanuel Adebayor scored an 86th minute winner to clinch a 1-0 victory for the travelling Gunners. If Arsenal’s players are to emulate the success of 2006 they will need Laurent Koscielny (valued at £18 million by Transfermarkt) to banish any lasting demons from Thursday evening and lead by example this afternoon.
The highly-regarded French international was culpable of allowing Antoine Griezmann to steal in behind Arsenal’s defence on Thursday night and his compatriot eventually poked the ball home to score a priceless away goal for ten-men Atletico Madrid despite Shkodran Mustafi’s best efforts.
Koscielny cannot afford to make another error of judgement against United tomorrow with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and, of course, the former Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez on hand to punish the travelling side.
The 32-year-old centre-back has built his reputation in English football based on his consistently reliable nature and calming influence at the back, and if Arsenal are to have any chance of claiming a priceless victory for the departing Wenger he will need to bring his a-game to Old Trafford to nullify the threat of United’s attacking talents.
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