After two battles with Chelsea, both of which were high-scoring, United entertain Arsenal this Saturday lunchtime, in a fixture that saw United batter Arsenal batter 8-2 in last season. Taking into consideration the fact that our defence seems to be leaking goals and we`re reliant on our attack scoring more than we concede, are we in for a high-scoring game tomorrow lunchtime, or will the trend come to an abrupt end with goals becoming a scarcity? I guess the watching millions will find out when they tune into Sky Sports this Saturday lunchtime.
A lot of the attention, for this fixture, is bound to be focused on the fact it is the first time that Robin van Persie has come face-to-face with his former club. The Dutchman surprised many people by making the switch from London to Manchester but he has settled in well and his goal-scoring antics have already endeared him to the Old Trafford faithful.
It could also be said that the Dutchman has brought other options to our play, something Ryan Giggs has highlighted to the media in the build-up to the fixture, with the Welshman commenting about the Dutchman,
“When a ready made world class player come in it gives everybody a lift. And Robin is certainly that.”
“He`s proven that with his goals and all-round play since he`s come to the club.”
“Robin`s set-piece delivery is really important to us. It`s a big plus that we`re scoring from set-pieces and corners.”
“That`s something we haven`t done over the last few years as often as we`d have liked.”
“So with Robin it`s not just goals you get. He`s helped a few different names get on the score-sheet.”
He certainly has and we expect Van Persie, this Saturday, to add his name to the growing list of players that have scored winners against former clubs.
United Team News:
The only player to have started in both fixtures against Chelsea was Rafael. Having beaten Chelsea on their own patch, last weekend, the boss made ten changes for the Capital One Cup tie, I`d assume it`s fair to say that the starting eleven for the visit of Arsenal is more likely to resemble that of last Sunday than Wednesday.
As far as injuries go, Nemanja Vidic is still on the sidelines whilst Phil Jones and Chris Smalling can`t be too far away from being available again whilst Shinji Kagawa is still out with his recent knee injury.
We don`t expect the starting eleven to be too far removed form the following:-
De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young, Rooney, Van Persie.
With Sir Alex sticking with the 4-4-2 formation that was so successful last Sunday.
Player to watch: Robin van Persie
Who`d bet against the prolific Dutch striker putting one over his former team-mates by not only getting on the score-sheet but netting the winner?
Arsenal Team News:
Arsene Wenger brings his squad to Old Trafford with the following injury concerns – Szczesny and Gervinho out whilst Oxlade-Chamberlain faces a fitness test.
However Wilshere, having just returned from a long spell on the sidelines, islikely to play as is Sagna.
Player to watch: Theo Walcott
His future may still be up in the air but the England international, as he showed in midweek in that remarkable Arsenal comeback, at Reading, he has the ability to influence the outcome of a match. If Walcott is given any space he`ll cause problems with his direct, running and skills.
Match Facts & Stats
Nobody will ever forget the corresponding fixture last season, somebody remind me who came out top in that 10-goal thriller?
Looking through the record books though proves to be interesting reading. Arsenal have not won at Old Trafford since September 2006, since that day United have ruled the roost winning 7 times and drawing once.
In all this will be the 48th meeting between the two clubs with Sir Alex having the edge over Arsene Wenger by 21 wins to 15.
The officials charged with keeping law and order in what has been a feisty encounter in the past are:-
Referee – M. Dean
Assistant – S. Ledger
Assistant – A. Garrett
Fourth Official – P. Dowd
Last season this fixture, it has to be said, was one of the most memorable I can recall. Considering the rivalry between the two clubs, it was a pleasure to see Arsene Wenger on the end of an 8-2 defeat. Of course I`m realistic enough to accept that it was a one-off and that we`ll not see a repeat this Saturday lunchtime, but I`ve seen nothing to suggest that we can`t take all three points. Arsenal will arrive looking to play their attractive brand of football but attacking-wise, I reckon we`ll more than match them. But, can we prevent Arsenal, like so many other sides, from taking the lead and creating that little extra bit of pressure we seem to thrive on? I reckon we can and I reckon we`ll keep the pressure upon our title rivals by winning quite comfortably by two clear goals.
United continue to rack up the air-miles with the resumption of their Champions League campaign, in midweek. It`s off to Portugal to face FC Braga, a win will cement our place in the knockout stages, a far cry from the predicament our neighbours across the city find themselves in.