Arsenal make the trip to Old Trafford on Saturday in a game that sees Robin van Persie face his old side for the first time. Arsenal go into the game after a 1-0 win over QPR followed back-to- back defeats. Arsenal will be lusting after revenge following their controversial defeat to United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The Red Devils emerged 8-2 winners in this fixture last season, before grabbing a 2-1 win at the Emirates in January.
The form book is not in Arsenal’s favour, but statistics should be overlooked in a contest that always produces fireworks and often shocks. However the North Londoners will be boosted by the return of Jack Wilshere, who played 67 minutes against QPR, after 17 months spent on the sidelines. The fact that their opponents have just two Premier League clean sheets to their name all season will also help matters.
United’s campaign so far has been an unusual one. Though they are the league’s top scorers, their defence, still depleted of Nemanja Vidic, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, remains shaky and unconvincing at the best of times. Sir Alex Ferguson chose to abandon the much publicised midfield diamond after it was berated by 80-year old Margaret from Rochdale in an MUTV phone-in.
United’s success from the flanks in their recent games means it will most likely be a revert to their classic 4-4-2, spearheaded by one of the game’s main talking points: Robin van Persie facing his former team-mates. Since his move to Old Trafford the Dutchman has continued the blistering form that saw him net 37 times in all competitions last season for Arsenal, having already scored nine for his new club. Arsenal will know better than anyone the threat he possesses and their success in dealing with their former talisman will be key to getting anything out of the game.
Arsenal’s woeful form looked to be over with their victory over QPR last weekend. Their comeback from 4-0 down to Reading to win 7-5 will also do their confidence a world of good. Arsenal will be thankful to be able to recall Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski et al. to face United. Arsenal have made a habit over the years of silencing their critics when the voices against Arsène Wenger’s are at their loudest, and the wily Frenchman might see Saturday’s game as an opportunity to do just that, while Sir Alex will want to continue the form that has seen United climb to second in the table, just a point behind leaders Chelsea, without any of the controversy that mired his side’s win on Sunday.
Both teams will be out to prove a point, and neither will be looking to play conservatively, so expect the Premier League to once again serve up a mouth-watering encounter between two of its heavyweights.
Author: Freddie Mickshik