Arsenal vs. Manchester United: another opportunity to indulge in David Moyes’ misunderstood genius
Like any great auteur born before their time, David Moyes is struggling under the oppression of those who just don’t get his greatness in the here and now. Arsene Wenger has suffered similar injustices from an ignorant public over the years, with many failing to appreciate his innovation of turning a league position into a trophy.
After all, the glory of fourth place isn’t the only new idea brought into the English game by Arsenal’s long-standing patriarch. His greatest teams also introduced the idea of taking one too many unnecessary passes in the box rather than shooting for goal. In a land more used to the obvious glory of winning games, this new style of playing took some time to catch on. Thankfully, his friends in Spain—like Bowie opening up the UK to Kraftwerk—have helped him achieve mainstream popularity, and we have come to live in age in which the pass has been fetishized as something greater than a goal. As shark-faced sage-in-waiting Brendan Rodgers is known to crow at anyone willing to listen to him after games: we won the passing. And who can argue with that?
Now, before our very eyes, we are watching a similar genesis of a revolutionary footballing trend rising into the ascendency. If goals are vulgar, passes will soon be passé, but then what comes next? Crosses. Lots of crosses.
Arsenal to win – 2.04
Draw – 3.25
Manchester United to win – 3.40
(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)
The 81 crosses made by Manchester United against Fulham were not an aberration but a giant leap into a great unknown. Just as football theorists grew to better understand the game following its discovery in 1992, uncovering the assist and then the key pass in their vital research, future soccerologists will mark this season as a landmark juncture. The crossed cross and cross from within the box are upon us, and from this day on they will be known as the criss-cross or inverted-daisycutter.
No longer the preserve of FIFA and Pro Evo players, whose refined muscle memories are known to unstuck when mashing unfamiliar controller layouts, the age of launching it into the mixer from within the mixer is here. All thanks to the visionary David Moyes. When he mistakes a square for a circle—an A button for a B—he means it.
A school of thought has emerged that suggest that Moyes somehow held Everton back these past few years, but it’s now becoming clear that it was Everton who held back David Moyes. At Old Trafford he has been handed the budget to make his most vivid dreams come true, and those dreams are filled with crosses.
Forget Marcelo Bielsa and his vertical football. That now belongs to the past. The new buzz word will soon be David Moyes’ crosssectionality. Struggling to lump balls in from wide? Well, your team are lacking in crosssectionality. Playing through the middle? Suffering due to limited crosssectionality. Repeat it and spread the word brothers and sisters.
But where does this leave Arsenal? Wounded from their 5-1 defeat to Liverpool, can they weather Moyes’ coming storm? It all hangs on whether the former Everton manager can complete his life’s work and find an elusive third flank down which he can play another full-back and winger to fire yet more wide deliveries into the opponents’ area. Of course, ever the thinking man, Wenger has already moved to solve this impending dilemma by over-fielding midfielders to the point where Arsenal at times seem to pose the question of whether the concept of flanks exist at all.
Football writing hasn’t quite caught up yet to these events, with metaphysics still trailing behind the dominant genres of tactics and stats in the blogosphere. Yet that won’t stop Arsenal versus United from being the most progressive spectacle of the season. Purity is a rare thing in football, with prolific cowards such as Jose Mourinho and his ilk compromising their ideals to gain victory through problem solving and pragmatism. Not in Moyes and Wenger’s name.
Neither man will end the season with any silverware but they are already managing on a higher plane of understanding, without need of trophies or success. Like Rodgers, Moyes already knows what his victory looks like. “We got to the byline lads, and that’s all that matters”, he’ll say while tearing up with pride in the away dressing room. In the future, the byline will be all that matters.
Betting Instinct tip – With both teams involved in high-scoring games over the weekend, more than 3.5 goals is 2.90 with Intertops.eu
GREG JOHNSON (gregianjohnson) is a freelance football writer based in London and contributor to FourFourTwo, Squawka, Drowned In Sound and Mirror Football. He also co-edits The False Nine football blog and podcast.