Hassan Chamas

What: English Premier League
Who: Arsenal (3rd; 49 points) vs Manchester United (2nd; 50 points)
When: Sunday 31st January, 2009, at 16:00 GMT
Where: Emirates Stadium, London, England

Low on Fuel?

Arsenal are entering that tunnel yet again at this time of year, where the possibility of destabilising their campaign jumps up, something that has deprived them of silverware since 2005. True, Arsenal have displayed sheer class, even with their growing list of injuries, but the goalless draw against Aston Villa, coupled with the loss to Stoke City in the FA Cup, means that Arsene Wenger’s team do not go into the match against Manchester United with the best attitude.

In the corresponding fixture earlier this season, Arsenal were on course for victory after Andrei Arshavin opened the scoring with an absolute screamer, only to be denied later on by Wayne Rooney and a Abou Diaby own goal. This time around, The Gunners will be looking to get their revenge, in an encounter that rarely lacks controversy.

Bragging Rights

Carlos Tevez might have had his personal revenge over his old club as Manchester City got the win over United in the first-leg of their Carling Cup encounter, but the Red Devils enjoyed the last laugh as they won the return leg 3-1, dumping their town neighbours out of the League Cup, and earning a ticket to meet Aston Villa in the final on 28th February.

However, a lot can happen to Man Utd before then: Nemanja Vidic’s injury means even if he does play he will be less than fit, while the four-match ban handed out to Rio Ferdinand means that the Mancunians could be vulnerable at the back once again this season.

On a brighter note, Wayne Rooney’s formidable streak of late will be one of the defending champions’ key points in the encounter this Sunday. The striker has been the prime factor behind the Old Trafford club’s drive for success this campaign, and is one of the leading figures to win the PFA Player of the Year accolade.


Recent form

Arsenal 4-2 Bolton Wanderers (Premier League)
Stoke City 3-1 Arsenal (FA Cup)
Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal (Premier League)

Manchester United:
Manchester City 2-1 Manchester United (Carling Cup)
Manchester United 4-0 Hull City (Premier League)
Manchester United 3-1 Manchester City (Carling Cup)

Key absences

Arsenal: Thomas Vermaelen (doubt); Abou Diaby; Fran Merida; Kieran Gibbs; Robin van Persie; Johan Djourou; Eduardo

Manchester United: Owen Hargreaves; John O’Shea; Rio Ferdinand (suspended)

Players to watch

Arsenal – Cesc Fabregas: The Barcelona youth product has been the most impressive player in the Premier League this season. Against bitter foes Man Utd, the Arsenal skipper will have to step up and lead by example should The Gunners want to continue their fledgling title challenge.

Manchester United – Wayne Rooney: One of the players that could compete with Fabregas for the player of the season award. The England man just can’t seem to stop scoring at the moment, bagging all of his side’s goals against Hull City, and landing the fatal blow that earned his team’s ticket to the Carling Cup final at Wembley.

Match prediction

A key note in this weekend’s major encounter is the relative doubts over both defences. Thomas Vermaelen may return for Arsenal, but would surely be less than 100% fit if he did, while Man Utd will miss Rio Ferdinand and could play Vidic in a similar situation to Arsenal with Vermaelen. A Wayne Rooney-propelled team will nonetheless be enough to earn Man Utd a valuable three points. A 3-1 score in favour Manchester United seems a likely outcome.

Thinking about having a bet on Arsenal v Manchester United? Remember to check out our tipster’s preview on our betting page, where you can also find the best available odds from tip-ex.com.


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