smalling vs city

Evening all. Let’s take a moment to laugh at Arsenal’s extraordinary defending.


(What the fuck is Steve Bould’s job at that club, by the way? An assistant manager who was part of one the most famously stingy defences in Premership history and the back four played with zero organisation and discipline).

A few news items to round up as I finish watching what’s actually a pretty entertaining tussle between Villa and Leicester, with some tasty tackling into the mix. Man, Paul Konchesky really is objectionable.

I went Villa v Norwich a few weeks back with a journalist who told me that the reason Villa fans start giving their team shit after an average of about 10 minutes is because the football has been so abject for the past few years. I could see their point in that game, but this one’s all right. Jack Grealish, by the way, about whom I wrote this in September if you’re interested, is one to keep an eye on for us.

Speaking of us, a couple of things worth mentioning before I do a proper preview for Southampton in the morning.

Truth-factory the Daily Star says that Carrick will be offered a new contract shortly which I brilliantly predicted the other day due to the quite obvious admiration van Gaal has for him, as well as the fact that he’s slotted seamlessly back into the side since returning from injury.

He’s a been a real pacifier of his own side, Carrick, just a calm, reassuring head of experience back there. We’d frankly be bonkers not to give him an extension as he deserves an awful lot of credit for how he’s been straight back to his best after so long out.

David De Gea has been named Player of the Month by the club for the second month running, which will get no argument from anyone. You know a player’s doing a good job when even people who hate United are falling over themselves about how brilliant he’s been for us. Come a long way since scoffing too many tacos and moaning about having to train.

I should probably say something about Chris Smalling, who after making an arse of himself against City has, I’ll admit, played extremely well of late. He was particularly strong against Arsenal, which is a little more significant than being “immense against Hull City”, in the words of the United’s website.

The problem with Smalling, though, is that however well he plays for a few games I still get the suspicion he’s always one brain-melt from a monumental screw-up. If Van Gaal wants to bring in some reinforcements in that area in January I still think Smalling could be the number 1 candidate to get the shunt, with the possible exception of Rojo who keeps playing as if he’s got a screw loose.

With Evans on the verge of returning, though, it’ll be interesting to see who Van Gaal plumps for in the middle on Monday night what with his preference for pairing a right-footer with a left at the back, something which Smalling told the club’s website he appreciated Sunday:

“I think he likes to have good balance with the left and right footers on either side of the centre-half partnership. Over the years, we’ve not always had a left-footer and, more often than not, you can get away with it. If you have a good touch, you can play with either foot but I can fully understand his point about the balance. Having one right and one left, I can see that.

“I think Jonny is naturally right-footed but has played a lot on the left and I’ve played on the left as well. It’s good to get numbers back as we’re very light in defence and he came through the Reserves’ games and has been training with us. It’s good to see options coming back.”

He makes a good point about it not mattering what foot the two defenders prefer as long as their good enough to be comfortable. It never affected Vidic and Ferdinand before, of course, nor Terry and Cahill at the moment. If Evans is fit on Monday I’d just about prefer him and Smalling to Rojo at this point, so it remains to be seen who gets the nod.

As a club, we’re in the best form we’ve been in all year after great performance against Arsenal (after 35 minutes) and playing one shit team (Hull) and a fairly shit team (Stoke). Tomorrow is much more of a test, even if Southampton haven’t been able to cut it in the past couple of weeks.

Confidence, something which we haven’t been able to enjoy with any real conviction since Van Gaal started, is as high as it’s ever been. The players have playing like a team who are more relaxed, with as much faith in the system they’re being asked to play as we’ve seen thus far.

We have to win against Southampton tomorrow night. I don’t know why but I feel like I can smell a draw – let’s hope I’m proved wrong.

Proper preview upcoming. Bye for now!

Track of the Day: Animal Collective – My Girls (Merriweather Post Pavilion, 2009)