It only seems like yesterday that these two “giants” of English football were tussling for the Premier League title but now both find themselves fighting it out for European qualification. Both have struggled to compete financially with the big money of Manchester City and Chelsea which is only to be expected but to be dropping behind the likes of Southampton and Swansea City who have both “overachieved” so far this season is a kick to the teeth of the so called top four.
Arsenal will be looking to put to bed their inconsistent recent form and return to winning ways after letting another lead slip, last time out they lead at Swansea City before the Welsh side staged a quick-fire response and took all 3 points from Wenger’s men. Arsenal welcome back Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud to the squad, while Theo Walcott suffered a groin problem away with England and is a major doubt for Saturday. Still out are French pair Mathieu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny who are still sidelined and Mesut Ozil who is continuing his rehabilitation.
Nacho Monreal is expected to keep his place for the seventh straight game despite calls for Calum Chambers to be moved centrally with Hector Bellerin replacing the young england defender at right back. Arsenal have shown a clear weakness at the heart of their defence this season, Mertesacker’s lack of speed along with Monreal’s inexperience in this position has made Arsenal easy pickings especially late on in games this will have to improve if the likes of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are to be denied at the Emirates.
Manchester United find themselves in a similar situation and Louis Van Gaal has found himself coining that fantastic Wenger excuse “a team in transition”, The dutch “revolutionary” initially claimed it would take 3 months to transform his club but now has backtracked saying it will be closer to 3 years. Manchester United currently sit 7th in the Premier League table just a point behind their opponents this evening. Van Gaal’s men took all 3 points against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford last weekend winning 1-0 and will be looking for much of the same. Van Gaal’s squad are depleted and read more like an Arsenal injury list of years gone by. He has no less than 9 first team players unavailable which include Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Marcos Rojo and Radamel Falcao.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Monreal, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez, Welbeck, Martinez, Sanogo, Walcott, Flamini, Cazorla, Podolski, Rosicky, Giroud.
Manchester United: De Gea, Lindegaard, Amos, Vermijl, Shaw, Smalling, Blackett, Thorpe, McNair, Pereira, Fletcher, Valencia, Lingard, Fellaini, Anderson, Carrick, Young, Herrera, Mata, Januzaj, Di Maria, Rooney, Van Persie, W Keane.
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