Coming off one of the harshest spells in recent Manchester United memory, defeats to Chelsea and Liverpool (one deserved, one not so) and injury have hampered our pursuit of silverware. Will today’s game against Arsenal be an end to this disappointing spell or will Wenger’s men (boys) exacerbate out problems?
Arsenal haven’t been in great shakes themselves and come into the game off the back of one of the most pitiful displays in recent memory after failing to register a single shot on target and being reduced to having just 26% possession in their 3-1 loss to Barcelona. Add to this their Carling Cup final defeat against Birmingham and they too won’t be in the best of spirits.
Team News: Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans remains absentees in defence whilst Vidic returns from the suspension that saw him miss the trip to Anfield so expect a pairing of Smalling and Vidic. Sir Alex has stated that Valencia and Park will still not feature and Nani is out after that nasty challenge from Jamie Carragher so they remain sidelined alongside Anderson, Owen and Hargreaves.
Arsenal too have injury worries with Fabregas (hamstring) and Szczesny (dislocated finger) joining Song, Walcott and Vermaelen on the injured list.
Form: United are coming off back to back defeats in the league, our second and third of the season and third and fourth in all competitions this season. In the FA Cup though we have managed to get through every round without the need for a replay having beaten Liverpool, Southampton and Crawley at first time of asking. Arsenal are going through an equally rough patch with defeats to Birmingham and Barcelona sandwich-ing a win against Leyton Orient and draw with Sunderland. In the FA Cup they have faced replays twice with both Leeds and Leyton Orient.
United Last 6: WWDWLL
Arsenal Last 6: DWLWDL
Last Meeting: United beat Arsenal in December in a performance that was assured without being spectacular. Anderson’s energy in the middle of the park went a long way to neutralise a midfield that was meant to out play us. The duo of Nani and Park combined to give us a 1-0 win but the result could have been a lot more certain had Rooney not skied his penalty in the second half.
Last Meeting in the FA Cup: In 2008 Arsenal visited Old Trafford and were handily dispatched 4-0 with goals from Rooney, Nani and a brace from Fletcher. Eboue was sent off for a rash challenge on Evra and Gallas too could have seen red after trying to cut down Nani after the winger mocked Arsenal by dribbling with the ball balanced on his head. (I have fond memories of this game, I sat in the away end with some pals who are Arsenal fans).
Facts: We haven’t lost a tie against Arsenal in our last 6 meetings with Arsenal with 5 wins and a draw in all competitions.
Park Ji Sung has scored in all of his last 3 starts against Arsenal so he will be missed.
I fluctuate in my thoughts about this game, sometimes I think it’ll be hard other times I don’t for different reasons.
We have been imperious at home but we are coming off two disheartening defeats which may play on our player’s minds. Arsenal will be wanting to bounce back after an equally disheartening defeat against Barcelona. The return of Vidic at the back will be a massive boost. A win here may have a huge impact on the title race, either team can use this as a launch pad to get back into the swing of things whilst a victory here will be a huge psychological victory too.
I won’t bet against United and the fact the game is at home leads me to believe we have this one so I’ll go with a return to winning ways for United!