We talk a lot about rivalries in football here in England and even though these two aren’t quite wrestling the title off each other every year like they used to; Manchester United vs Arsenal FC is still one of the most entertaining fixtures in Premier League football.
Come to think of it; it’s probably one of the most unpredictable as well. Arsenal won the reverse fixture in the opening 20 minutes back in October, thumping 3 goals past United. What really baffled me that day was Van Gaal’s midfield selection though. How could he possibly think he could take his stuttering Unite side to The Emirates and dominate the game? Schweinsteiger and Carrick simply did not have the legs for such an occasion and I don’t recall them ever partnering up in midfield like that ever again.
Ander Herrera and Morgan Schneiderlin should start today but it’s the defence that Van Gaal has to worry about. If Manchester United want anything from the game, their young full backs need to influence the attack and prevent Sanchez and Walcott from penetrating United’s backline. Danny Welbeck on the other hand is pushing for a start with Giroud struggling to find the net in his last 8 outings.
Rooney is still missing further up the pitch for the red devils but given that Martial’s withdrawal from the Midtjylland game was only a precaution, the French youngster should start up front. There is the small matter of having a further 12 to 13 first team players out injured as well…
This is encouraging news for Arsenal; they’re even favourites going into the game. But like Wenger said earlier in the week: this is a special fixture for both teams, a modern day ‘clasico’ of sorts and that means anything can happen. Except Arsenal would kick themselves if they drop points at Old Trafford right now, considering the state of things at the Manchester club these days.
Gooners will try to salvage any Premier League momentum left from their last minute win against Leicester City two weeks ago. If they lose however, that same old ‘game over’ feeling may begin to creep in again on yet another season for them.
That is the lowdown on Manchester United vs Arsenal FC. If I’m honest, I’d like to see Van Gaal break his own rules a bit and take a risk with Martial and Rashford up front. Unlikely, even for a manager that loves to keep us guessing. Nonetheless, his team has shown they can perform when everyone’s up to it, so it promises to be as tense as always and a closer match up than most might think.
Who’s your money on?
Kick-off: 14:05. Watch it live on SkySport 1.
Images from: Manutd.com & Arsenal.com