A fixture heavy on the spice, and with more than its fair share of intriguing subplots, too. Forget the grudge matches of old: Arsenal vs table topper Manchester United is currently a game loaded with creative verve and one or two creaking defensive hinges. Where United will look to strengthen their spot on the top, Arsenal will look to re-establish themselves from the heavy defeat at Emirates on Champions League night.
Arsenal’s defense has been a worrying thing for the supporter’s, but Arsenal’s creativity at least gives them optimism here. Santi Cazorla (28) and Mesut Ozil (29) have delivered more goalscoring chances than any other player this season. According to Per Mertersacker, the Gunners “struggled defensively”. While Cech is expected to back and hopefully strengthen the defense alongside the creativity of Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez, there are still doubts over if Arsenal can turn their roller coaster season into a winning streak due to fitness doubts over Koscielny, Flamini and Arteta.
In contrast, their opponents, who have exposed Arsenal’s flaws as much as any other in the past decade, do look to have taken a step forward. Manchester United enter Sunday’s Emirates Stadium showdown sitting top of the Premier League — three points and three places above Arsenal — for the first time since the retirement of their own legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Still far from the finished product, United have far more weaknesses in the squad than there should be at a club that has spent close to £250 million since Van Gaal took the helm 15 months ago. But, with four successive wins to their name, momentum is building. Crucial to that upturn has been the most scrutinized signing of Van Gaal’s reign. With Carrick and Herrera back in the squad they will surely get the extra boost.
Facts and figures :
- Arsenal have a lower win percentage against Man United in the Premier League (24%) than versus any other opponent in the competition.
- Since making his Premier League debut back in August 2012, Santi Cazorla has provided more Premier League assists than any other player (32).
- Wayne Rooney scored his first ever Premier League goal (Oct 2002), his first Premier League goal for Man United (Oct 2004) and his 100th Premier League goal (Jan 2010) against the Gunners.
The momentum is with United, but it would be wrong to write off Arsenal. But with defensive lapses on both the sides we are expecting a goal fest. Predicted score: Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United.