Arsenal travel to face Manchester United on Sunday in a bid to sustain their Premier League title challenge. One of the fiercest derbies of the early 2000’s in still one of the most prominent fixtures on the domestic calendar, although it has a lot a tad of its edge from those fierce halcyon days.
Both sides come into the fixture on the back of a mid-week European fixture, the Gunners losing 2-0 at the Emirates to Spanish giants Barcelona in the Champions League, while the Red Devils were able to see off Danish minnows FC Midtjylland 5-1 to qualify for the Europa League last-16.
Domestically, both sides were involved in FA cup fixtures last weekend, with the Gunners drawing 0-0 with a depleted Hull City side while United brushed aside League 1 side Shrewsbury Town 3-0 to ensure their qualification. Arsenal’s replay has been scheduled for the March 8.
Can Arsenal out gun a wounded United?
Louis van Gaal’s side have endured a rather torrid campaign thus far and sitting six points below the coveted Champions League places.
The Red Devils have struggled to find consistency this season, with goals hard to come by for large portions of the campaign. Old Trafford has not been the fortress it once was and this will be of some concern to the fans and hierarchy at the club.
Arsene Wenger’s side come into the game hot favourites despite having to travel up north and the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will be hopeful that they can continue to keep the Gunners marching towards domestic glory.
Recent meetings have been mixed affairs
The corresponding fixture at the Emirates earlier in the season saw Arsenal produce one of the most brutal offensive displays in recent memory, knocking three past David De Gea only 20 minutes into the game; Sanchez at the double with Ozil also finding the back of the net.
That result ended somewhat of a hoodoo for the Gunners as they had failed to beat United in the league for the previous two seasons. This fixture last season produced a 1-1 draw, with Theo Walcott scoring a late deflected effort to secure a valuable point.
United fans will still be haunted by Danny Welbeck’s winner in last year’s FA Cup quarter final between the two sides which Arsenal won 2-1. Wenger’s side went on to lift the trophy.
Arsenal have only one fresh injury lay-off from their energy sapping tie with Barcelona, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is side lined with a knee injury sustained from a 50-50 challenge with Javier Mascherano.
Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky are all still long-term absentees, while Gabriel Paulista is still a doubt but will have a fitness test prior to the match.
United will be without a whole host of stars, with the likes of Anthony Martial, Chris Smalling and De Gea all expected to miss out.
Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian and Marouanne Fellani are all long-term absentees, however, Antonio Valencia could make his long-awaited return to the squad.
Romero, McNair, Rojo, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Lingard, Herrera, Mata, Depay.
Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Welbeck, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud