There’s no denying that the Gunners are clear underdogs this weekend. They face a rejuvenated side who have added to their already strong side by injecting youth and some hefty transfers, and have begun their long road to retaining their Premier League title with convincing back-to-back wins.
The Gunners are yet to win a game, drawing their opening game and then loosing at home to Liverpool, however they come off the back of a Champions League qualifying win against Udinese, boosting their hopes a fraction. With a mixture of injuries and suspensions plaguing Arsenal’s first-team, they will have to turn to experience heads such as Robin Van Persie, Thomas Rosicky and Bacary Sagna to ensure the youngsters cope with the pressure and intensity come Sunday afternoon.
The fixture’s between these two ‘big guns’ have involved many controversy’s over the years, however it was Arsenal who had the final laugh in their last fixture, with Ramsey scoring the only goal in a 1-nil win for the North London side.
Both teams are going through transitional periods, although at different ends of the spectrum. United are rampant whilst Arsenal are short of just about everything at the moment, and it feels like a continuing “transition” ever since leaving the glory days of Highbury.
Manchester United have five first team players out injured, so Sir Alex Ferguson is forced to ‘do a Wenger’ and put his trust in academy graduates Tom Cleverly and Danny Welbeck, as well as summer signings Phil Jones, David de Gea and Ashley Young to deliver the goods in the early stages of the season.
On team suspensions:
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They are not welcome when you consider the players who are out, especially in midfield. Gervinho is in full confidence and we would not like to lose him for a big game like this. We have shown since the beginning of the season that we have mental strength, a good unity to fight and we have shown that again on Wednesday night. I am confident that will come out in the game on Sunday.
On the latest team news:
Rosicky came through the Udinese game well and Djourou came through well too. He had a little setback after the game but he will be available for Sunday. Vermaelen has a test on Saturday and Koscielny had a positive fitness test today. There is a little doubt about Vermaelen but he should be alright.
Bendtner is out, Squillaci is out and Gibbs will just fall short. He’s not far away though
On Wilshere seeing a specialist:
I don’t know anything about it. I know he has seen a specialist but I don’t know the result.
On fresh beginnings:
“A little bit. We had that cloud over our heads with the Champions League.
“It was a difficult summer for us because the negotiations (over Fabregas and Nasri) lasted longer because the decisions were very difficult to make.
“The club was completely questioned by everybody but I am confident we will have a good season.”
On criticism following the departures of two of the club’s most influential players:
“It is easier to win cups and be unbeaten than to be questioned like that, but it is part of my job. I find it very challenging as well.
“What has changed is the financial resources of some clubs have become so much bigger that it is more challenging and more difficult for us to keep our best players.”
Arsenal – Robin Van Persie: The Dutchman scored in midweek and will be looking to establish himself as the Premier Leagues finest striker, starting with a goal or two at Old Trafford. He is Arsenals attack, and the frontman can have the quietest of games then whip out a stunner.
Manchester United – Rooney: The English international has, in the past tormented Arsenal, and will be looking to continue his fine form against the Gunners this Sunday. Again, Rooney can be in no man’s land for majority of the game and suddenly a quick bit of inspiration from the Englishman can turn a game on its head
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Jenkinson
Walcott Van Persie (c) Arshavin
There are a few ways Wenger may play this one, maybe play Koscielny and Vermaelen at the back with Djourou (or Vermaelen) playing a more advanced role in the usual 4-3-3 (as above), or bring in Oxlade-Chamberlain into the mix and play Ramsey or Rosicky in a more defensive midfield role, or revert to a 4-4-2 with Chamakh partnering RVP up front.
Vermaelen faces a late fitness test but Wenger expects him to pass, and Koscielny had a positive fitness test yesterday.
Bendtner, Squillaci, Gibbs, Diaby and Wilshere are out injured still, while Gervinho and Song are serving their 2nd of a 3 match ban, whilst Frimpong is suspended due to his dismissal last week.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Miyaichi have still yet to feature for Arsenal’s first team in a competitive match so it maybe unlikely that they will start, however may feature at some point in the match.
1: Sagna – The Frenchman provided cover at leftback in midweek and combined exactly with Walcott in the second half, don’t be surprised if he bags an assist this week.
2: Robin Van Persie – he can pull something out of nothing and will pull all the strings in Arsenals attack this week, a must have IF he gets the service he deserves.
3: Theo Walcott – The winger fluctuates in form,but is deadly when he is. It’s likely he will put in a decent performance this week after finishing cooly in consecutive matches against Udinese.