Despite Manchester United having wrapped up their season against Aston Villa last week, there is still plenty for Arsenal to do in their pursuit of a top-four spot. Robin van Persie and co are expected to come out of the tunnel to a guard of honour from the Arsenal players, but that is where the respect should stop. If you respect Manchester United on the pitch, they will walk all over you.
The major news that came from last weeks match was that Giroud would not be spearheading the attack for at least the next three games due to the straight red he picked up against Fulham. Reports suggest that Podolski will be the man to fill the void and seems the most logical choice given his skill-set.
The German has only had one chance to spearhead the attack this season and many Gooners have felt that he should have had more chances to prove himself in his desired position. Despite the German not having started a game since January and having a niggling ankle injury, you would still be apprehensive in putting Walcott or Gervinho ahead of him against United.
In terms of other team news, it looks as though Wenger will roll-out the same line-up that he used in recent weeks, aside from Giroud of course. At the back, it has been important that Szczesny got a couple of clean-sheets under his belt in the last couple of games as you feel United will have at least a couple of good chances to score.
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It remains to be seen whether Sir Alex Fergusson will heavily rotate his side given his team wrapped up the Premier League title last game-week. Whether a weakened side or not, it is imperative Arsenal come out firing with nothing less than victory on their minds. There is still plenty to do and a win against the newly crowned champions will be a huge confidence boost going into the last three games of the season.
On United easing off after winning the title…
It’s easy to ease off, yes. I do not hope too much. It is a special game, always, a little bit because naturally the stress is not there any more.
Your tendency is to relax a little bit. The fact is they might continue to go [for it], or because it is just the next game. I think in two to three games they will ease off. Whether they want to or not.
You are still on the high for the next game. It would be a big mistake for us to think they will ease off straight away on Sunday. It can happen in two weeks.
on team news…
The players who played last week at Fulham should all be available. We lose Giroud of course because he’s suspended but that’s it.
Fabianski is not available. It’s still week-to-week for him.
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
Ramsey Arteta (c)
- Manchester United have won six and lost one of the last seven Premier League meetings with Arsenal.
- The Gunners have kept just four clean sheets in their last 16 Premier League games at Emirates Stadium.
- Robin Van Persie has scored in each of his last three matches between Arsenal and Man Utd, twice for the Gunners and last time out for the Red Devils.
- Rooney scored his first Premier League goal, his first in the League for Man Utd and his 100th Premier League goal against Arsenal.
- Rooney’s 10 goal haul is the highest by a Premier League player against the Gunners (along with Robbie Fowler) and also his joint-highest versus any opponent in the history of the competition.
- Only Arsenal (18) have scored more goals in the final 15 minutes of matches than Manchester United (15).
- Despite having the best away defence (14 goals conceded), 12 teams have a better home defensive record than the 21 goals shipped by the Gunners at Emirates Stadium.
- Man Utd are the first team to be champions with four games remaining since Arsenal in 2003-04.
Arsenal 2 Manchester United 1