Manchester United - Arsenal Preview: Visitors hoping to avoid repeat of last year's 8-2 demolition
After a goal-crazy week in the Capital One Cup attention turns back to the Premier League, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side going for their fourth straight league win
By Tom McKeown
Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
Valencia, Rooney, Young
Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Santos
Ramsey, Giroud, Podolski
Sir Alex Ferguson has no fresh injuries or suspensions to contend with ahead of Saturday's clash with the Gunners, so the Manchester United boss is likely to ring in the changes from the midweek Capital One Cup defeat at Chelsea and name the same side that beat the Blues 3-2 in the Premier League last Sunday.
Robin van Persie will lead the line for the Red Devils against his old club with Wayne Rooney assuming a deeper role once again, with support from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young on the wings.
Shinji Kagawa (knee) has been ruled out until the end of November, while Nemanja Vidic (knee) is still out. Phil Jones (knee) and Chris Smalling (metatarsal) are both nearing a return but Saturday may be too soon for either to launch a comeback.
Arsenal will have to cope without their top scorer in the league Gervinho after the Ivory Coast international injured his ankle after coming on as a sub against QPR last week, meaning Arsene Wenger is likely to stick with the team that forced a late win over Mark Hughes' side.
Kieran Gibbs (hip) is still out for the Gunners, meaning Andre Santos will continue at left-back, while Vito Mannone will start in goal with Wojciech Szczesny (ankle) still fighting to recover.
Theo Walcott is pushing for a start after his midweek Capital One Cup heroics against Reading, but it is more likely that Wenger will keep the England international on the bench after 120 minutes of football.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- The last time Manchester United and Arsenal met at Old Trafford - when the Red Devils won 8-2 in August 2011 - was the highest-scoring match between the two in history.
- Arsenal's last victory at Old Trafford came courtesy of an Emmanuel Adebayor goal in 2006. Theo Walcott is the only current Arsenal player who was in the squad for the 1-0 victory.
- Sir Alex's side have won nine of their last 10 meetings with the Gunners in all competitions.
- The Red Devils have scored and conceded at least two goals in the same Premier League game five times this season.
- Robin van Persie (pictured right) has hit the woodwork 21 times since August 2009; nine more times than any other Premier League player in the same period.
- Only one of the Gunners' 14 league goals this term have come before the half-hour mark.
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Top 3 Predictions
Man Utd. 1-2 Arsenal
- 18.72 %
Man Utd. 3-1 Arsenal
- 17.11 %
Man Utd. 2-1 Arsenal
- 6.38 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Feb 12, 2014||Arsenal 0 - Man Utd. 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Nov 10, 2013||Man Utd. 1 - Arsenal 0|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Apr 28, 2013||Arsenal 1 - Man Utd. 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Nov 3, 2012||Man Utd. 2 - Arsenal 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Jan 22, 2012||Arsenal 1 - Man Utd. 2|
|Mar 8, 2014||West Bromwich Albion 0 - Man Utd. 3||EPL|
|Feb 25, 2014||Olympiakos Piraeus 2 - Man Utd. 0||UCL|
|Feb 22, 2014||Crystal Palace 0 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Feb 12, 2014||Arsenal 0 - Man Utd. 0||EPL|
|Feb 9, 2014||Man Utd. 2 - Fulham 2||EPL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|14||Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez||Striker|
|Robin van Persie|
All eyes will be on the former Arsenal man on Saturday. The 29-year-old has added an extra dimension to United's attack this season, and has seven goals in nine Premier League games for Sir Alex's side. The Netherlands international will be keen to add to his tally against his former club.
The 23-year-old has been in the headlines this week, for reasons on and off the pitch. Contract extension talks are stalling because the England international isn’t happy with his lack of starts, but after scoring a hat-trick against Reading in midweek Walcott is making it harder for Arsene Wenger to leave him out. Even if he doesn’t start, expect the pacy forward to feature at some stage in the match and be desperate to prove a point.
It's been an incredibly entertaining goal-filled week in which both sides conceded five goals in the Capital One Cup. This fixture last year delivered an equally ridiculous scoreline when United ran out 8-2 winners (and created one of the year's most obvious puns), but Arsenal's failure to score in league games could see this be a swift return to reality. Sir Alex's side should have too much for the Gunners in this one.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed