The mouth-watering Manchester United-Arsenal fixture at Old Trafford today is rife with class footballers.
The likes of Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie will be out strutting their stuff at the Theatre of Dreams in a few hours. They all are majestic game-changers, players who can decide the game with one moment of brilliance.
However, as brilliant as these footballers are, the result of the game will likely hinge on the performance of a much more understated individual - Jonny Evans.
Arsenal rely on Olivier Giroud to act as their pivot up-front, with the likes of Özil, Santi Carzola and Ramsey pushing up to support him. Giroud’s increasingly impressive link-up play is vital to the Gunners’ juggernaut.
If Moyes has finally understood the necessity of avoiding two games on the bounce with the venerable Vidic-Ferdinand duo at the heart of defence, then Evans should be the man marshalling the Red Devils’ defence at Old Trafford today.
Evans will have the unenviable job of handling Giroud. The fact that Arsenal will have the greater possession is clear enough. There is a gargantuan chasm in the quality of midfields of the two clubs, so the usual ‘midfield battle’ that is significant in other big games is a non-contest for this fixture.
All of which leaves United’s defence vital, and Evans as the central figure of that defence.
If they keep a clean-sheet or at least keep the Gunners down to a single goal, then the Manchester United attack is good enough to get a couple with the likes of Rooney, Van Persie and Adnana Januzaj.
Clinical finishing, and more importantly, a good defensive performance are vital if United are to make up for the huge lack of quality in their midfield compared to Arsenal’s.
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