Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Posts Tagged ‘Arsenal’

Arsenal begin to look a formidable obstacle

Posted by hakanrylander on February 21, 2011

Last week’s CL encounter between Arsenal and Barcelona was an absolute delight to watch for any neutral observer. It also confirmed that Arsenal in the last few months have developed into a more formidable obstacle to our domestic (and maybe even international) ambitions. There are three main reasons for this:

-Robin Van Persie is back to full form and fitness. That’s a big difference from last season.

-The squad is probably stronger than ever in depth, with players like Diaby, Rosicky, Arshavin and Chamakh not able to get into the first XI.

-And, most importantly, they seem to have acquired a steely quality that has often been missing. They kept going against Barcelona despite being played off the park in the first half, and came back to turn the game around.

We will face Arsenal in the FA-cup (if they overcome Leyton Orient) on Saturday 12 March and in the PL on Saturday 30 April. Two games that might define our season, and to really look forward to.

For in-depth analysis of Arsenal tactics and formations, look no further than Arsenal Column.


Posted in Manchester United, Previews | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Those lines that I before have writ do lie

Posted by hakanrylander on January 31, 2010

This game confirmed two things.

1: For a neutral who loves football the meetings between United and Arsenal are the most enjoyable in the Premier League.

2: Between the Lines has been wrong all along about Nani. Regular visitors will be aware that I’ve dismissed him as our most frustrating player and expected him to be sold. If he had been sold this morning I wouldn’t have missed him. Today he forced me to change my opinion. He scored a brilliant individual goal (with a little help from Almunia), but in a way I was even more impressed with his assist for the second goal when he ran with the ball from inside his own half towards the Arsenal defence. At this moment I would have expected the old Nani to miss-hit the pass or make a desperate attempt to beat the keeper from long-distance. Instead he slowed down, calmly waited for Rooney to arrive in the penalty area and then hit a perfect pass. His performance in the first half was the best I’ve ever seen from him. But isn’t this just another of Nani’s false dawns? I don’t think so. I think that today Nani truly arrived as a Manchester United player.

Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports, Player Analysis | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Between the Lines Recommends

Posted by hakanrylander on November 9, 2009

Arsenal Column is very impressed by Alan Dzagoev’s use of space. Maybe we should bring him in along with Akinfeev who’s been scouted by ManUtd24.

RoM shows that Rooney apparently is so pleased with the 4-2-3-1 that he reckons it made it look like United had twelve men on the pitch.

This clip is rather average for the most part, but the last ten seconds are pure genius.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Five conclusions from United vs Arsenal

Posted by hakanrylander on September 1, 2009

1. On the whole Arsenal can derive more positives (but no points) from this game. I’ve rarely seen United so lacking in attacking ideas at Old Trafford as in the first half when the wingers were contained by close marking, Giggs unable to get involved and Rooney totally isolated.

2. I must admit that I never thought Darren Fletcher would progress beyond being a useful squad player, but if he keeps improving at this rate he will soon rival Wayne Rooney as our most important player. Also I don’t, unlike Wenger, think that he used excessive force, apart from when he bulldozed Arshavin in the penalty area.

3. We have a long-term goalkeeper problem. Ben Foster is a good keeper but again he failed to convince me that he should be United’s first-choice for many years to come. He made a world-class stop from Van Persie but should have saved Arshavin’s strike. He also flapped badly at a cross, the kind of behaviour that feeds insecurity among the defenders.

4. Abou Diaby gifted us the game with an own-goal that was very much an unforced error, but apart from that I was very impressed by him. Wenger has found a real gem.

5. Uefa president Michel Platini needs to get his priorities right and launch an urgent investigation concerning the hairstyle of Manuel Almunia.

Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Premier League clubs face difficult transfer window

Posted by hakanrylander on June 29, 2009

The transfer window doesn’t officially open until Wednesday but of course a lot of activity is already underway. The early signs are that the top Premier League clubs are finding it difficult to lure stars from Italy, Spain and Germany. United (Ronaldo, Tevez), Arsenal (Adebayor) and Liverpool (Mascherano, Alonso) are all in danger of losing, or have already lost, star players and are apparently finding it difficult to replace them. While Chelsea are reported to have made a number of unsuccessful recruitment attempts (Pato, Villa). The only exception is City, whose bottomless pockets enable them not only to pay high transfer fees but also offer ridiculous pay-packets such as the reported £200,000 per week after tax to Samuel Eto’o.

The reason for these difficulties is not that the PL is less attractive from a sporting perspective. Remember three out of four semi-finalists in the CL were English. Instead the problem is that the PL is financially less competitive than a year ago.

This is partly because Real Madrid have gone bananas, but also and more fundamentally because of the fall of the pound. Even though the pound has strengthened against the euro in recent months, it is still 11 percent weaker than it was a year ago. This makes it more expensive for British clubs to buy players from euro-countries, and also to pay their wages. Furthermore, the tax rate on high earners (anyone earning more than £150,000 a year) was raised in the latest government budget, meaning that top players (or indeed any first team player) earn more after tax in Spain or Italy compared to England.

This might very well be the summer when the tide turns and more top players move away from rather than towards England. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Posted in Financial | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The unofficial transfer window shopping list

Posted by hakanrylander on June 22, 2009

 United are about to receive £80m for Ronaldo and are therefore linked with just about every top class player in Europe and their dogs. Some of the suggested signings are very tempting but totally unrealistic (e.g. Essien and Torres) while in other cases the fees quoted are very fanciful (Ribery).

The Between The Lines shopping list stays away from the most expensive options and contains just three names:

Micah Richards. Probably the most talented young defender/midfielder in England. Hasn’t played to his potential during the last two seasons but it would be very interesting to see him develop under Ferguson. Could play in central defence or at right-back, but I see him as a future holding midfielder, “the next Patrick Vieira”. Tops my shopping list if indeed City, as rumoured, are stupid enough to sell him.

Robin van Persie. Reports claim that he’s unhappy with the level of ambition at Arsenal. Very skilful and mobile and would work wonderfully with Rooney or Berbatov or both. A bit injury-prone but worth a gamble.

Antonio Valenicia. Impressed me a lot as man-of-the-match against United in January. A fast and direct winger/midfielder who eschewes fancy footwork but can make it look very easy to get past a full-back. Some think he’s overpriced at £18m. I don’t agree.

Posted in Transfer Gossip, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Czar of the Week

Posted by hakanrylander on April 22, 2009

I didn’t have any high hopes that Arsenal would give us a helping hand last night, and from the outset it certainly looked as though it would be Liverpool’s game. They totally dominated the first half and should have been 4-0 up. Instead they were 1-0 down. In the second half the game swung back and forth but Liverpool were still the better team, and I have to admit that they deserved three points. Great performances from Torres, Kuyt and Benayoun (the best I’ve ever seen from him).

But they made the mistake of handing Andrei Arshavin four chances, and he buried them all. Two of his finishes, the second and fourth, were truly world-class. Interestingly enough, even though Arsenal were second to Liverpool in most respects, I thought I saw signs that Wenger is close to building another great side. They played the 4-2-3-1 system that I’m very fond of and which makes good use of the mobile and skilful attacking midfielders Fabregas, Nasri and Arshavin. If they can add a bit of steel in central defence and defensive midfield they will be even more formidable opposition.

All in all a wonderful spectacle where the winners were Manchester United. And football.

Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Such stuff as dreams are made on

Posted by hakanrylander on March 20, 2009


  • A. Villareal – Arsenal
  • B. Manchester United – Porto
  • C. Liverpool – Chelsea
  • D. Barcelona – Bayern Munich


  • Winner of game A – Winner of game B
  • Winner of game C – Winner of game D

This draw is perfect.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The game is on again

Posted by hakanrylander on March 19, 2009

The draw for the quarter-finals of the Champions League takes place tomorrow. Most United-fans will hope that we’re drawn against either Porto or Villareal who appear to be the weakest sides, even though the prospect of another couple of scoreless draws against Villareal isn’t too exciting. This is how I rank our seven potential opponents, starting with the one I would most prefer to meet in the quarter-final:

  1. Porto
  2. Villareal
  3. Arsenal
  4. Bayern
  5. Chelsea
  6. Liverpool
  7. Barcelona

Posted in Previews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Another weekend at the office

Posted by hakanrylander on February 2, 2009

The scoreline against Everton suggests a tight game, but it wasn’t. Normally I’m quite nervous when we have only a one-goal advantage, but not this time since Everton rarely looked dangerous. Brilliant performance by Carrick (see post below) and it was nice to see Tevez back to something resembling his best form.

Several other results also went our way with draws for Arsenal and Villa. Liverpool-Chelsea would probably also have finished goalless but for the referee who sent off Frank Lampard while not even cautioning Steven Gerrard for a similar offence.

Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »