EPL: No room for error

Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger watches from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Cardiff City at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 1, 2014

ARSENAL v MAN UNITED

(On Thursday, 3.45am, SingTel mio TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)

1 CONCENTRATE, CONCENTRATE, CONCENTRATE

Arsenal's players are experienced enough to know that a moment's lapse in concentration will kill you in the Premier League.

There was no excuse for the moments of negligence that peppered their performance at Anfield last Saturday.

Too often, the ball was lost in critical areas, possession squandered because of a lack of attention.

If the Gunners give the ball to Juan Mata as often as they gave it to Philippe Coutinho, they'll be in serious trouble.

They can't go ball-watching at the back either.

Robin van Persie will be ready to pounce on any slip-up.

2 GUNNERS MUST KEEP DISCIPLINE

There were moments last Saturday when it seemed certain that Jack Wilshere would be in the showers long before the rest of his teammates.

The Englishman (above) is a ferocious midfielder and that spirit and tenacity have saved Arsenal on many occasions, but they must be channelled correctly.

Wilshere is no use to his team in the dressing room and, with so many crucial games on the horizon, Arsenal could do without any suspensions.

Be hard, rattle United, but be sensible, too.

A measured application of strength is far more effective than ill-tempered chaos.

3 CAN THE REAL OEZIL PLEASE STAND UP?

There have been rumblings of discontent lately over Mesut Oezil's contribution to the cause and they were given further credence last Saturday.

For the most part, his lack of potency can be put down to the period of adjustment required for a player of his kind in a new league.

Last Saturday, that didn't apply. Oezil (above) was slack, ineffectual and lazy.

He needs to impose himself on games. He is one of Europe's finest players and he owes his club more than the rubbish he served up at Anfield.

Get the ball to him and let him run at United's creaking defence.

4 KEEP IT NARROW AT THE BACK

It's no secret that David Moyes likes a cross.

Last Sunday, his team delivered almost one every minute to a grateful Fulham defence.

If Arsenal are going to keep out a sustained barrage, they need to get their back four as narrow as the Cottagers, which means putting the reins on their fullbacks.

If Per Mertesacker (above) and Laurent Koscielny (right) are isolated, they could be outnumbered and stretched out of position.

It's easy enough to mock David Moyes' approach when it doesn't work but, as we saw from Liverpool's first goal, Arsenal are vulnerable in this department.

5 DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK ARTS

Arsenal can sometimes be too pretty for their own good.

Tomorrow morning is not the right time for prettiness.

The comments of Rio Ferdinand, Javier Hernandez and Wilfried Zaha (although he denied making those comments) are proof enough that United are not a happy ship.

Arsenal would do well to capitalise on that. They need niggly fouls, pokes and pulls, verbals and handbags.

They need to wind the United players up until the springs pop out across the turf. They need to force mistakes. It's what Jose Mourinho would do.


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