ARSENAL

v

MANCHESTER UNITED

Emirates Stadium,Ai??London

January 22; 1600 hours GMT

***

Manchester United travel to the Emirates stadium on another Manchester v North London weekend as title challengers Tottenham make a trip to the Etihad stadium as well. The one in August turned out to be a nightmare for the teams from the capital as they suffered a drubbing at the hands of Manchester clubs. Revenge will surely be on the mind of Arsenal and Tottenham, but their is a much larger perspective to look forward to as the weekend could turn out to to be very influential in the title race as well as the fight for the Champions League spot.

Arsenal, since thatAi??embarrassingAi??loss at Old Trafford, have done rather well in the league and are right in the mix to get that coveted 4th place in the league. Although, they have suffered a setback recently losing their last two games away to Fulham and Swansea, they are still just 4 points behind fourth placed Chelsea and a win in this game will provide them a much needed boost and put pressure on the other challengers in the process. The return of Henry has also given the Emirates faithful a lift which will be on notice in the game on Sunday.

United, on the other hand, face a tough fixture schedule ahead as they are due to face Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham in the coming few weeks. These fixtures will be crucial, to say the least, in the title and the manager will be more than happy if his team is till involved in the title race post this tough period. Fergie’s men have always turned it on in the second half of the season and the wily old Scot will be expecting much the same from his team in this season as well.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Arsenal

Arsene Wenger is facing an injury crisis of major proportions ahead of this weekend’s big game. Arteta is definitely out of the game while Thomas Vermaelen is also a major doubt. Also, returning club legend Thierry Henry will face a late fitness test on Sunday before being decided whether he will be involved or not. Last season’s match winner Aaron Ramsey is also down with fatigue but should be fit for the game. Rest, all are fit except for the long term casualties – Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Andre Santos – who are still missing.

The manager will go with a customary 4-2-3-1 formation with star man Robin van Persie leading the line for the Gunners. Alex Song will surely be starting but Wenger has to make a choice between Benayoun and Rosicky as to who will partner the Cameroonian. Given the fact that Benayoun had such a poor game against Swansea last weekend, the boss might go for Rosicky in his starting XI. Also, with the limited options at his disposal, Wenger will most probably go for Ramsey, Walcott and Arshavin to be his playmakers from the midfield.

At the back, Johan Djourou will continue to play as a right-back while Per Mertesacker and Koscielny will be playing in central defence. The left-back will once again be the youngAi??Ai??Ignasi Miquel and with the form shown by Valencia in the past few games, the Spaniard will have to be on his ‘A’ game if he has to cut out the threat from United’s right hand side.

Probable Starting Line-upAi??(4-2-3-1) : Szczesny(GK); Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Miquel; Song, Rosicky; Arshavin, Ramsey, Walcott; RVP

football formations

Manchester United

Sir Alex has mixed injury news for this weekend’s game as defenders Smalling and Jones have both been declared fit and will take part in the game, but Anderson will be out as he has suffered a setback in training. Also, Young and Cleverley are nearing full fitness and will return to action sooner rather than later which will be a boon for United during the tough period coming up. Other than that, Michael Owen is still missing while Vidic is out for the season.

The manager will be facing a dilemma about the tactics he should deploy against the Gunners this weekend. He has been successful in the past using a 4-5-1 with Rooney/Ronaldo upfront on their own, but has recently been using a 4-4-1-1 in the last year or so and also has lost at the Emirates last season using that formation. Therefore, the manager might go for the 4-2-3-1 formation that was so successful against City in the FA Cup tie earlier this month.

Welbeck will be the lone man upfront, while Rooney, Valencia and Nani will be pressing to go forward on every opportunity. Carrick and Giggs are also certain to start in central midfield but will share different roles as they did at the Etihad stadium. While Carrick will play as an out and out defensive midfielder, Ryan Giggs will double up as an attacking midfielder when United will be in possession and will be protecting the back four during Arsenal’s attacks.

The back four will depend on the personnel fit for the game while Lindegaard is expected to start ahead of de Gea as he has done in the past few games.

Probable Starting Line-upAi??(4-2-3-1) : Lindegaard(GK); Smalling, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Giggs; Nani, Valencia, Rooney; Welbeck

Key Match Facts

  1. Arsenal have scored just 20 goals in their last 16 home games and have scored more than once in only 4 of those 16.
  2. The Gunners have dropped 8 points from winning position in the league this season.
  3. United have won 7 and lost just once in their last 9 meetings against the Gunners in all competitions.
  4. Henry has scored 7 in 8 home appearances against the Red Devils while Rooney has 6 in his last six against Wenger’s men.

TheHardTackleai??i??s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

The 'Right' Man

.
The Ecquadorian winger has been in sublime form since the turn of the year and has consistently outshone his illustrious team mate, the enigmatic Luis Nani. The full back position has proved to be Arsenal’s Achillie’s heel so far this season, trust Valencia to give the Gunner’s full back untold heartache.

TheHardTackleai??i??s PREDICTION

Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United

It will be an entertaining game as it has always been between the two teams, but with so much at stake neither team would want to be on the losing side.

TheHardTackleai??i??s BLAST FROM THE PAST

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One Response to “Arsenal v Manchester United – Preview: Wenger’s Gunners Hungry For Revenge as Red Devils Aim To Keep Pressure On City”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Aditya Sharma says:

    Both teams have atleast one center-half who’s an own-goal waiting to happen (Mertesacker and Evans).. But United’s attack is slightly better (Wenger needs to send Arshavin packing soon, even A O Chamberlain might be a better option than him), so they should be able to win this one.