Blockbuster clash at the Emirates Stadium sees the Gunners currently four points behind fourth placed Chelsea, while the Red Devils are three points behind leaders Manchester City
Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Miquel
Song, Ramsey, Benayoun
Walcott, Van Persie, Arshavin
Smalling, Jones, Evans, Evra
Giggs, Scholes, Carrick
Valencia, Rooney, Nani
Mikel Arteta missed the 3-2 defeat to Swansea City due to a mild calf strain, and he is expected to remain out of action in this fixture. This should see Yossi Benayoun start again in midfield.
Thierry Henry is a doubt for this game due to a calf injury. He would likely take Andrey Arshavin's place in the lineup if he returns in time.
Meanwhile, Abou Diaby (muscle injury), Francis Coquelin (calf), Kieran Gibbs (hernia), Carl Jenkinson (back), Ryo Miyaichi, Bacary Sagna, Andre Santos and Jack Wilshere (all ankle) are all sidelined with their respective problems. Gervinhoand Marouane Chamakh remain unavailable while on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has Chris Smalling and Phil Jones back in his squad, and the duo will probably return to the starting lineup considering the magnitude of this game - particularly as Rio Ferdinand is regarded as highly doubtful after breaking down in training with a recurrence of a back injury, as exclusively reported by Goal.com. Smalling would go to right back while Jones could take Ferdinand's place at centre-half.
Paul Scholes could slot in in midfield alongside Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs.
Danny Welbeck is currently nursing a knee injury and remains a doubt for the clash at the Emirates Stadium, which may prompt Sir Alex to push Antonio Valencia and Nani further up the pitch to support Wayne Rooney in their respective wide roles.
Anderson, Tom Cleverley (ankle), Fabio (hamstring), Darren Fletcher (illness), Michael Owen (thigh) and Nemanja Vidic (knee) are all out of action and will play no part in the game against Arsenal.
||DID YOU KNOW?|
- Arsenal has managed to keep only one clean sheet in its last six games in the Premier League.
- Its last two matches have ended in defeats, as it stumbled against Fulham and then Swansea City. But its home record provides for better reading as they have gone nine league games without a loss at the Emirates Stadium.
- Robin van Persie (pictured right) leads the goalscoring charts with 18 to his name in the league and 22 overall. His importance to the team is showcased by the fact that no other Gunner even makes the top 20 goal scorers in the top-flight this season.
- In the last 10 league games between these two sides, the team playing at home has lost only on one occasion. That was the Red Devils' 3-1 victory in north London in 2010.
- Manchester United's 8-2 win over the Gunners in the last league game between the two sides was a new record. Until that point, no match between these two teams had resulted in 10 goals being scored in a single game.
- But prior to that, there had been a nine-goal thriller back in 1958, when the Red Devils managed to secure a 5-4 win away from home in their last domestic match before the Munich Disaster.
- If all games ended at halftime, United would have been at the top of the table while Arsene Wenger's men would have slipped to sixth in the standings.
- Throughout the course of history, both sides have scored and conceded over 300 goals against each other. To be precise, the Red Devils have scored 329 times and conceded 305 goals.
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