Manchester United Vs Arsenal | Preview
Robin van Persie starts for Manchester United, despite rumours he’d been left out. Both Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky (illness) miss out for Arsenal, who recall Mathieu Flamini.
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Jones, Carrick, Kagawa, Rooney, Van Persie.
ARSENAL: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud.
Arsenal come into the tie after an incredible week which saw them dismantle Liverpool at The Emirates, followed by a heroic display in Borrusia Dortmund, where their defensive unit really came of age. Laurent Koscielny & Per Mertesacker are now a fixture at the heart of the Arsenal defence, producing one of their most eye-catching defensive displays on to date on Wednesday night, a partnership that is continuing to blossom game by game.
David Moyes has endured a difficult start to life in Manchester, a string of poor performances have led to his credentials coming increasingly under scrutiny. Their home form has even taken a hit; most notably only picking up only a solitary point at home Southampton & West Brom, leaving very few positives to take. Many are still questioning if David Moyes truly knows his best XI, in particular the back four which is looking uncharacteristically leaky. Ashley Young has come under further scrutiny this week after another theatrical fall in San Sebastian, in an overall display again failing to turn heads. Wilfred Zaha continues to play a bit part role at Manchester United, is it time for him to be given his opportunity?
As ever, the battles in the centre of midfield will be vital in determining who takes a real foothold in this tie on Sunday. Arsenal have been starting with a partnership of Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta in recent ties, arguably one of the most inform partnerships around Europe. Such is their form that Arsenal’s golden boy Jack Wilshere can only warrant a place on the substitute bench. Ramsey and Arteta combine a real desire and energy with an impressive technical guile which has made it impossible for Arsene Wenger to look beyond the two.
Manchester United on the contrary have struggled in the central areas, with Michael Carrick seeming to be the only settled figure. Marouane Fellaini is yet to impress in the deeper areas of their midfield, more often than not looking sloppy in possession and undisciplined defensively. There have been calls for Moyes to ploy the Belguim further up field, an area where he often wreaked havoc whilst under the Scotsman at Everton. To add too United’s midfield headaches, they’re defence is becoming increasingly unsettled, with a number of combinations being tested throughout the season.
If Manchester United are to defend their Premier League title, they will surely have to inflict defeat on the North Londoners on Sunday. This could act as a pedestal to work from, to begin to re-establish Old Trafford as the feared fortress is once was. This is the first time Arsenal have faced one of the ‘big three’ in the league this term (Manchester United, Manchester City & Chelsea), to win at Old Trafford will do a lot to dispel the doubt surrounding their title credentials. Following a week which saw Arsenal lay down a marker at The Emirates against Liverpool, before leaving the Westfalenstadion after shocking German powerhouses Borussia Dortmund, they’ll be travelling to Manchester as confident as ever.
On current form you’d fancy Arsenal to break their hoodoo in Manchester having won 14 of their last 15 away games, but we have to bear in mind they’ve lost on 7 of their last 8 visits to Old Trafford.
Manchester United 13/10
Just over two years have passed since Manchester United inflicted total humiliation on Arsenal with a brutal 8-2 victory at Old Trafford, but The Gunners are a far cry from that disjointed side these days. You’ll have to recall back at least seven years to find the last time Arsenal went to Manchester as the genuine favourites around football, albeit not with the bookmakers, who tend not to favour away sides!
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British with a fixation for La Liga & in particular the Italian Serie A & B. I have taken a keen interest in analytical break downs of the game for several years now, first venturing into journalism after relevant studies in university. I am also a keen gambler, primarily focusing my attentions on the British football leagues, Bundesliga & Serie A