Manchester United will be looking to go back to the top of the Premier League by winning at Arsenal, who are determined to make up for what has been another week of European misery.
Most people would have expected the Gunners to have collected a maximum six points from their opening two Champions League fixtures, but they have failed miserably in losing to both Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos. While they could point to some mitigating circumstances in the Croatian capital, there was no excuse for a performance laced with naivety against the Greek champions, who took full advantage of the constant lapses in concentration from their hosts.
Arsene Wenger was held responsible by many for tinkering with his team selection, and supporters can be rest assured that Petr Cech will be back between the posts here. It is a sentence often uttered, but this match represents a huge test of character for Arsenal; after all if they do win they will be level on points with their handily placed opponents. If they do not, there will be some dissenting voices heard at the Emirates Stadium after the final whistle, so they must keep tight and disciplined at the back and hope Alexis Sanchez can maintain his fine scoring form at the other end.
While it may seem that there is nothing special concerning Man Utd at present, last weekend they hit the summit thanks to a very comfortable 3-0 success over lowly Sunderland. The game offered little in terms of talking points and the performance was not something to immediately to write home about, but just as they seem to be doing more often than not under Louis van Gaal, they got the result they wanted and that is how they find themselves in the lofty position they are now in.
Which makes them very dangerous opponents here for Arsenal, who have been caught out by the Red Devils’ effective counter-attacking tactics in their own backyard on more than one occasion before now. That is where Anthony Martial comes in, ably supported by the tricky Memphis Depay and the sheer desire of captain Wayne Rooney. This is a side capable of working their way out of tricky situations, and so it proved again at home to Wolfsburg on Wednesday.
Midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta will not feature for Arsenal due to injury, and nor will Laurent Koscielny, who has a hamstring problem.
Ander Herrera is doubtful for Man Utd, but they do have Michael Carrick back after he was forced to miss the game against Wolfsburg.
Last Meeting: Arsenal should have been out of sight after half hour in November 2014 but somehow contrived to miss all of the numerous chances they created, with Jack Wilshere the biggest culprit. As the midfielder succumbed to injury, United punished the profligacy in the second half as Kieran Gibbs put through his own net and Wayne Rooney scored a second on the break. Upon his return to the Gunners side, Olivier Giroud netted a late consolation.
Played for both – Mikael Silvestre: The France international played an important though understated role in Man Utd’s success in a nine-year stay between 1999 and 2008, winning the Premier League five times, making 249 appearances and scoring six goals. He then moved on to Arsenal where he was used as a squad player, managing three goals in 26 league outings over two seasons.
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