Much of the pre-match talk on this match has focused on the return of Robin van Persie to Arsenal as a Premier League title winner after Manchester United were crowned champions last Monday night thanks to a thumping Van Persie hat trick against Aston Villa.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has confirmed that his side will give their former captain and rivals United a guard of honour on Sunday afternoon, although the Dutchman is sure to receive a hot reception from the Emirates Stadium faithful, who have not forgiven their top scorer last season for the way he departed the club in the summer, questioning the ambition of both the board and manager.
More pressing for Wenger and Arsenal however is their fight for a place in next season’s Champions League. The Gunners have been on a wonderful run of form in the Premier League of late and appear to have mastered an ability to get results even when not playing well, as shown in their recent away day victories at West Brom and Fulham.
However, the visit of the champions however is sure to throw up a huge challenge, particularly when you consider that Arsenal have only won one seven matches against the sides around them in the table this season, against Tottenham at the Emirates in November.
The Gunners will be without Olivier Giroud after the Frenchman’s attempts to get his red card against Fulham last weekend rescinded was rejected, meaning Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski or Gervinho will start in the lone striking position.
Elsewhere, Lukasz Fabianski remains out with a rib injury while Wenger must choose whether to recall Jack Wilshere to central-midfield, with either Tomas Rosicky or Aaron Ramsey making way, providing Santi Cazorla starts out wide.
For United, Sir Alex Ferguson is said to be targeting Chelsea’s record points total of 95 set in the 2004-05 season. However, the Scot has also intimated a desire to give some of the fringe members of his squad some games before the end of the season, meaning the likes of Chris Smalling, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Nani are all pushing for starts at the Emirates.
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