Drop Rooney for Mata, says Paul Parker
Our analyst tells GARY LIM that van Gaal should build team around Mata and drop Rooney
ARSENAL v MAN UNITED
(Tomorrow, 11pm, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
1. Now that Manchester United are top of the table, are they back to their best?
No. Look at their performances. Man United's best player has been Chris Smalling.
For club a like United, you can't have a central defender as your best player week in, week out.
It seems silly, and it doesn't work that way. People talk about their ability to grind out results as a trait of a good side. To me, it sounds like desperation. People come out to say that because it's the easy way out.
You don't start a season grinding out results when you are United.
United don't grind out results, they win games by playing football, getting people off their seats and playing in a certain manner.
2. Has United's style of play got to do with manager Louis van Gaal, who prefers a more methodical approach?
I suppose it all comes down to the manager and what he wants from his team.
Somewhere down the line, you can't keep relying on the centre half and the goalkeeper to help you win games all the time.
It just doesn't work that way.
Smalling may miss some games or experience a dip in form, and David de Gea may not be always there to make those kind of saves.
Look at Leicester City. Have they been grinding out results? So, it's (attacking football) possible.
United have got to do more.
3. Are things looking up again in United's attack?
Not exactly. I watched their Champions League game against Wolfsburg, and had to ask myself what Wayne Rooney contributed in attack.
He was passing backwards, getting caught in possession and giving the ball away.
Juan Mata can do 10 times better in that No. 10 role. Put Mata there and Ander Herrera on the right-hand side. What a difference that would make.
Just because Rooney has the armband now doesn't mean he can't be dropped.
Memphis Depay has been woeful too. At the moment, things aren't working out for him.
On the other hand, Anthony Martial has been what United needed.
He's a threat, he runs behind defences and he takes people on.
Defenders won't fancy facing him.
4. Van Gaal said that Arsenal are the best team in the league "technically and tactically". What do you make of that?
Arsenal have got some very good technical players, such as Mesut Oezil, Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
But I don't know where the "tactically" part comes from, because they seem to be messing things up all the time.
They have excellent individuals but you can't trust them when they get together because tactically, they don't get it right.
They played well in the Premiership over the weekend, and then suddenly they made all those changes for the Champions League clash with Olympiakos.
Arsene Wenger picked the wrong team, and especially, the wrong person in goal.
5. Against Man United, who should Wenger pick as his striker, Olivier Giroud or Theo Walcott?
Walcott has the pace, but he doesn't have the technical ability to hold the ball up and Arsenal need that against United.
Wenger has to go with Giroud. He can keep the ball, and his teammates can play off him.
Walcott usually scores in only one-on-one situations. As a centre forward, he doesn't have the movement and doesn't know where to be.
6. What's your prediction for this game?
United are playing away, so the onus is on Arsenal.
Arsenal can't afford to lose after the embarrassment of losing to Olympiakos.
They will have the ball a lot longer, with United playing more on the counter-attack.
I think it should end in a 1-1 draw.
- Paul Parker is an ex-England and Man United defender who won two EPL titles and earned 19 caps.
"Put Juan Mata (as a No. 10) and Ander Herrera on the righthand side. What a difference that would make."
— TNP analyst Paul Parker
"Listen, they’re soft — Arsenal are soft. They’re weak. The goals they give away, you’ve got no chance of winning any big game if you defend like that."
— Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane in a stinging attack on Arsenal
"One pundit says something on television and, all behind that, they repeat exactly the same thing. It is quite boring because nobody came out with numbers of this game where the game was won and lost."
— Wenger says the media, including pundits like Keane, lacks creativity and proper match analysis