Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Battle to Avoid Mediocrity - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Battle to Avoid Mediocrity - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Battle to Avoid Mediocrity

Manchester United host Arsenal in the FA Cup Quarter-Finals this weekend, and some might suggest the stakes have rarely been higher.

Utd approach the game on the back of a humiliating defeat at Anfield last weekend, and Arsenal have just a three day break to recover from their exhausting footballing-lesson at the Nou Camp.

Both sides have a massive point to prove and need to get their seasons’ back on track as soon as possible; and this is the perfect opportunity. Defeat for Manchester United would see them lose three consecutive games which, quite frankly, is not acceptable. Defeat for Arsenal would put them even closer to yet another season ending with no silverware to show for it. Patience seems to be running thin amongst many of the Arsenal faithful and this could well be the final straw.

Whilst Manchester United still sit at the top of the table with just  9 games to play, it is slightly discerning to see how they have achieved that feat this season. They have huffed and puffed their way through a difficult season and have, in my opinion, come out very fortunate on many occasions. They were never going to end the season unbeaten, and since their 2-1 defeat at Molineux in early February, their weaknesses have been exposed and they have now crashed to three defeats in the last six games. Some might say they’re not far off completely going off-track.

Arsenal, on the other-hand, have shown mere glimpses of what they have to offer. However, as we’re all too familiar with, the same problems seem to keep cropping up season after season. My best friend is an avid Arsenal supporter, and when Laurent Koscielny & Wojciech Szczesny threw away the Carling Cup Final in the last minute, he simply turned to me and said “only Arsenal can lose a cup final like that.”

He’s not far wrong. Everyone out there can see the issues within this current Arsenal side. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Szczesny and believe he has the potential to be Arsenal’s number one for the next decade. But Arsenal are crying out for a commanding, no-nonsense centre-half. Thomas Vermaelen is undoubtedly the best defender at the club, but when he is at constant risk of picking up injuries (he’s played 3 games this season), the club needs more.

With players like Jack Wilshere coming through, they have the potential to have an incredible future ahead. Let’s not forget Aaron Ramsey, who was an unbelievable talent at the time before his horror-incident against Stoke back in February 2010. They are constantly producing top quality youngsters; now they just need to go out and finish off the final piece of the jigsaw.

Arsenal have the attacking prowess to go to Old Trafford and get a crucial, ego-boosting win. But in order to do so, they have to show much more ambition than they did when they visited earlier in the season. On that night Utd cruised to a victory which was much more comfortable than the 1-0 scoreline might suggest. However, will Arsenal actually do it? I doubt it. They’ve only managed to beat them four times in the last 24 attempts, spanning over an 11-year period.

What initially started as a preview for this weekend’s fixture has turned into a small rant about how both clubs need to improve, and for that I apologise. But it all ties together in the end. This game is massive. Cracks are already beginning to show in both camps, and defeat for either club could prove considerably detrimental.

Aaron Bains


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