Eternal foes Arsenal and Manchester United are to go toe to toe tomorrow evening in what could well be the most important encounter between the two for a decade.
Both sides endured a horrid weekend, with the Gunners smacked off the top spot by a rampant Liverpool, and United managing a ‘conference’ level draw with bottom-club Fulham.
While David Moyes’ side are certainly out of the title race, they are still hopeful of breaking into the top four, but a defeat at the Emirates could put paid to their lingering ambitions, as Liverpool could move 12 points ahead of them in that last Champions League qualifying spot with a win at Fulham.
For Arsenal, this match is the second in a number of ominous fixtures, with games against Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Everton all to come. The Gunners are still just a point off top spot, and a win here would put their title bid firmly back on track.
Recent Premier League Clashes at the Emirates
2012/13: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United – Match Highlights
2011/12: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United –Match Highlights
2010/11: Arsenal 1-0 Manchester United – Match Highlights
2009/10: Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United – Match Highlights
2008/09: Arsenal 2-1 Manchester United – Match Report
Arsenal: Arsene Wenger says his side must respond from last week’s thrashing at Liverpool (via the Guardian),
“It is always a disappointment to lose a game, but I think it was an accident because we have been very stable defensively and we have to treat it like that,” said Wenger.
“We have just been on a 10-game unbeaten run. You cannot consider one game as the trend, the pattern of our season.
“It is an accident, not a welcome [one] of course, a very disappointing one, but a successful season is decided by how you respond to that.
“In any season you have disappointments, it is always down to the team to respond in a very positive way, that decides the success of the team.”
Manchester United: David Moyes is also hoping his side bounce back fast (via SkySports),
“There have been a few twists this season; hopefully we’ll get them our way in the future. You just continue doing the right things. Keep going and your luck will change, there’s no doubt about that.
“We got a good result against Arsenal here at Old Trafford earlier in the season and we’ll try and do the same again.
“I think we’ve played better, I think we’ve played better in several games, but in that one we got the one goal and that sometimes makes the difference.
“We’ll go and play the way we are, we are a top side and hopefully we’ll go and show that we are. We’ll play well and do everything we can to pick up all three points.”
Three Key Battles
Laurent Koscielny vs Robin van Persie
RVP will return once again to the Emirates stadium to a mixed cacophony of heckles and applause. The once Arsenal striker will lead the line for United, and will be faced with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, both of whom had the confidence knocked out of them on the weekend by Sterling, Sturridge and the rest of the Liverpool gang.
Frenchman Koscielny will surely be given the task of shadowing the Dutchman, and as long as United utilise the talents of Juan Mata down the middle, rather than sling in endless balls from wide areas, Van Persie will fancy his chances of bagging a goal against his former employers.
Olivier Giroud vs Nemanja Vidic
This will be an interesting, physical tussle. Vidic, who is to depart Old Trafford at the end of the season, is not one to be messed with, but his positioning has come in for some criticism of late.
The Frenchman will have to be at his best to get the better of Vidic.
Mesut Ozil vs Juan Mata
While not a direct battle, the pair will have big parts to play in the game, and their individual performances could directly effect the outcome.
Record signings for their respective clubs, the creative pair have experienced differing personal fortunes of late, with Ozil coming in for some intense criticism after a handful of uninspired performances, while Mata has provided an assist in each of the three games he has played since his January move from Chelsea.
Both are capable of producing the extraordinary, and that may be the difference between the two sides.
Arsenal 4 – 0 Manchester United. #FutureTweet.
— Secured Wi-Fi ©. (@lemanxq) February 11, 2014
— Space Monkeys #FPL (@SpaceMonkeysFPL) February 11, 2014
The ideal result between Arsenal and Man Utd would be a draw..
— rahul (@_annerahul) February 11, 2014
— Fikri M Pradana (@fikrifmp) February 11, 2014
The Big-Match Poll
Tom: 1-1 – I went for an Arsenal draw on the weekend too, and look where that got me! It’s such a huge game on Wednesday, and I think both managers will be largely preoccupied with avoiding defeat. A flash of magic could win it for either side, but I’m expecting a low-scoring draw.
What do you think? Cast your vote in the poll, and get involved in the comments below…