Juan Mata believes that a raucous Old Trafford atmosphere could aid take Manchester United one step closer to victory against Arsenal.
Arsenal, buoyed by their excellent run of ten wins in 12 games, take on Jose Mourinho‘s men this Saturday in search of their first league win at Old Trafford since 2007.
A win for Man United would take them within three points off fourth spot and five points off leaders Liverpool in the Premier League table.
Mata, writing in his weekly blog, insisted a cauldron of noise on Saturday afternoon would play a part in helping Mourinho’s men to a crucial victory.
“Following this friendly game, all players from Manchester United will go back home to get ready for a frenetic second half of November: four games in Old Trafford,” he said.
“The team is eager to find a good streak, and after defeating Swansea we are looking forward to playing Arsenal the next weekend. We want to give our best.
“A good atmosphere at the stadium, as always when we play against Arsenal, can take us one step closer to the victory. The top side of the Premiership table is very tight and we are going to work hard to keep a good streak and approach those top spots.”
The ’12th man’ theory has never been taken too seriously, and for good reason. I mean, think about it: these players – high-profile, multi-millionaires – play in front of rapturous crowds every week. The idea of thousands – literally thousands – of strangers screaming and hissing at you is, I’ll admit, a pretty daunting prospect. But his is what these men are paid to do. In the neurosis of a Premier League game, a side’s focus lies purely on the pitch.
However, watching the East Stand back in February, wallowing in a pit of pure ecstasy as Marcus Rashford‘s first Premier League goal sent Old Trafford into raptures, I felt it. That 12th man effect. It was there. Arsenal – a side notorious for its mental frailties in situations like this – fell apart. You could tell. They genuinely froze; I could see players looking at each other, as if looking for assurance. Some were staring at the ground, others flailing their arms in the air.
Old Trafford – so dormant after a long spell of languid football under Louis van Gaal – suddenly erupted into life. The place was literally shaking. And then game Rashford’s second and, my god, the noise that followed was defining. Arsenal never recovered, and neither did their title bid.
United fans will hope to see a similar level of noise arise on Saturday as Mourinho and Wenger meet one again.