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Man Utd vs Arsenal preview

United are still in with a shout of the Premiership and a strange combination of results could still see them achieve the seemingly impossible and overtake Chelsea. First though they have to defeat Arsenal in a game which, though devoid of much of the red meat fervour of recent clashes, will still be one of the most eagerly awaited matches at Old Trafford and fully worthy of the first 70,000+ gate in Premiership history

Last Result :

Man Utd : Bolton 1 Man Utd 2
Arsenal : Arsenal 5 Astonvilla 0

Man Utd form: WWWWWW
Arsenal form: WWWWLL

Last season :
Man Utd 2 - 0 Arsenal
Arsenal 2 - 4 Man Utd

This season :
Arsenal 0 - 0 Man Utd

Total Premier League results (from 27)
W 11 - D 9 - L 7

Results at Man Utd (from 13)
W 7 - D 4 - L 2

Results at Arsenal (from 14)
W 4 - D 5 - L 5

Scoring stats Man Utd :
Goals: 64
Goals conceded: 30
Avg goals/game: 2.0
Shots/goals: 462/64

Scoring stats Arsenal :
Goals: 53
Goals conceded: 23
Avg goals/game: 1.7
Shots/goals: 382/53

BACKGROUND

Arsenal have had a strange season. Knocked out of domestic cups early, and often in an unbelievably low position in the Premiership, there has only been the steady, and sometimes spectacular progress in the Champions League for comfort. That plus the emergence of yet another great team under the astute management of Arsene Wenger, and some of the recent Arsenal performances, especially against Real Madrid and Juventus have had fans and pundits thumbing the thesaurus for variations on superb.

Of course Arsenal are in a similar position to United in that famous players, stalwarts for many years, have departed. It will be a strange United-Arsenal match that doesn’t see figures like Keane and Viera contesting the midfield which will probably throw even more emphasis on the forward stars like Henry and Rooney. Because of their progress in Europe there have been regular midweek matches over the last few weeks for Arsenal, and that trend continued this week with the second leg match against Juventus. Despite the successful result which took them through to the semi-finals of the Champions League the travelling and the mental tension of that match must surely have an impact on Arsenal, and many United fans will be hoping that it is a serious impact.

United, sadly, had no such distractions and, after the impressive triumph at Bolton which brought them within seven points of Chelsea, the Reds have enjoyed a quiet week. This will mean a virtually full strength squad and the chance to concentrate minds on the task ahead. It is a little unsettling to see people suddenly starting to talk seriously, if dismissively, about the chances of United overhauling Chelsea’s lead before the end of the season. It’s even more unnerving for United fans to realise that there are thousands of fans round the country who traditionally would despise United but are now hoping they can topple Chelsea and the Russian millions.

This match takes place just four days after Arsenal cruised past a sorry Juventus team to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League. If the team needed anything to incentivise them for this game it is the sight of Arsenal triumphing in the Champions League against the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus while United enjoy humble league matches against Wigan and West Ham. This match is a vital step in ensuring that next season will be very, very different.

CURRENT FORM:

Man.Utd (Premiership only,most recent first) : WWWWWW
Eight consecutive wins is a fantastic run and United seem to be really purring. The wins are coming, the defence seems much less porous than a couple of months ago, and despite (or maybe because of) the Van Nistelrooy situation the goals are still appearing in a healthy amount. The goals ratio in the last six games is satisfactory with twelve goals for and only three against, and all this without the permanent presence of Van Nistelrooy.  The struggle to play both Saha and Van Nistelrooy does not seem to be impeding the team. The performance in the last half hour against Bolton, with Van Nistelrooy coming off the bench to appear alongside Saha, Rooney and Ronaldo in a breathtaking attacking force was what United fans expect and indeed demand of their team. Given his history against Arsenal it would be fair to expect Van Nistelrooy to feature against the Gunners, but Saha has undoubtedly brought a new fluidity and mobility to United’s play. Not for the first time this season team selection will cause almost as much debate as the match itself.

Arsenal (Premiership only, most recent first): WWWWLL
After their mid-season blip Arsenal have come back strongly with a series of emphatic victories that have had the pundits and fans struggling for superlatives. The team seem to be really gelling and more than compensating for the absence of major figures like Cole, Campbell and Lauren. The exciting young team fashioned this season by Arsene Wenger look ready to take Arsenal into their first Champions League final, into the new stadium and to challenge for the major honours for the next decade.

 
TEAM NEWS:

Man.Utd: As the end of the season beckons the long term injury victims have been written off for the season. Scholes, Smith and Solskjaer are out of contention until August, Fortune will be leaving the club when he recovers from injury but there is the tantalising prospect of a return for Heinze just before the end of the season, thereby giving him the chance of appearing in the World Cup. It seems likely that Fergie will go for continuity with most of the team who appeared against Bolton starting the match against Arsenal. Wes Brown will be in contention but Kieron Richardson is still suffering the effects of the foot injury which kept him out last week. Most attention will be concentrated on the choice of Saha or Van Nistelrooy up front, and the choice of Fletcher or Park in midfield.

Arsenal: The performance against Juventus was achieved without significant injuries and so the conjecture for Wenger will be who, if anybody, he should rest after the travelling to Italy. Of course there is also the rearranged Portsmouth match three days after the Old Trafford fixture to consider and it might be that Wenger chooses to risk a weakened team on Sunday in the face of other challenges to come. In that context this might be the game for Sol Campbell’s return and if so it will be interesting to see how he copes with the inevitable taunts from a massive, partisan crowd.

 

Watch out for:

Man.Utd: Luis Saha has struggled to achieve a permanent position at United. Of course his regular injuries have affected him badly but even fully-fit there were many United fans who doubted his capacity to do any more than just stand in for Van Nistelrooy when the Dutchman was out through injury. Recent games have changed all that and Saha has kept Van Nistelrooy out for seven consecutive games which have all been won. During that run he has scored four times and added a new dimension to United’s forward play. He is a much more dynamic player than Van Nistelrooy and he is creating a very useful, and threatening, partnership with Rooney so much so that United fans are beginning to think the unthinkable – that Van Nistelrooy might leave and yet it might not be a complete disaster.

Arsenal: It is hard to look beyond Thierry Henry whose goals, skill and attitude put him on a level beyond virtually every other player. Despite having skill that even his fellow professionals drool over he genuinely seems to enjoy the game and plays matches with a smile on his face. And he does seem genuinely more interested in scoring goals than in collapsing in an embarrassing heap to get other players booked or sent off. In all his only detectable fault is that he isn’t qualified to play for England.


Manchester United

Just weeks ago utd were 18 points behind chelsea & now the gap has come down down to seven points. Utd have hit top form just at the right time & with 8 wins in a row the believe is only getting stronger at old trafford. Utd have to win all their matches & hope that chelsea slip up more as well. The stamford bridge side still has to play utd & goin with current form utd can give chelsea lot of troubles. But before all that utd have to face Arsenal at old trafford on sunday. Utd have always done well against arsenal at OT in the epl. Utd havent lost in 3 seasons running & will look to do exactly the same come sunday. The game is expected to be a cracker coz arsenal are also on a high after knocking Real madrid out & beating Juventus 2-0 at highbury the gunners are hitting top form as well. Utd know they will have to be at their best if they have to get all 3 points on sunday. Another thing that will be big in Sir Alex's agenda come sunday will be the fact that who will be playing upfront. Ruud Van Nistelrooy has been the difference in the last two games. After scoring the winner on wednesday aginast west ham, the dutchman came of the bench against bolton to score the vital winner at the reebok. Saha has been inspirational as well scoring week in week out in the last few months & Rooney who on his day can himself be enough to distroy the arsenal defence(just ask newcastle). The stage is set for sunday whatever happens utd know that a win on sunday will put more pressure on chelsea for sure.


Arsenal

The gunners are goin great at the moment. A 2-0 win over juventus in the Chamoins legue followed by a 5-0 hammering of astonvilla is certainly impressive. The believe is also getting stronger at highbury but its a different kind of beleive (EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS) may be. The arsenal captain Thiery Henry will once again come under pressure as he is always expected to do something speacial in big matches. Henry has also hit top form as well with 21 goals in the league he is on top with Ruud van nistelrooy. Henry was clearly the diff when arsenal beat Madird at the Santiago Bernabeu & also in thier win over liverpool in the league. Arsenal know that if they have to get anything from old trafford then the frechmen has to fire. Another player who will be key to arsenal will be the younf spaniard Fabregas who was massive in arsenal's win over juventus at highbury.

Final comments

On sunday all eyes will be at old trafford as Man utd & Arsenal lock horns yet again only this time its not for the title race. Utd will look to give a strong message to chelsea coz the title race is not yet over by any means. Sir alex ferguson knows that chelsea are struggling & if any one can catch them then its Utd. Arsenal on the other hand will look to win & cement thier position for that vital champions league spot. Whatever happens on sunday one thing is for sure the match will be full of drama & passion.

Probable starting XI's
Man.Utd: Van der Saar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Silvestre, Ronaldo, O’Shea, Giggs,  Fletcher, Rooney,  Saha.

Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Senderos, Flamini,Hleb, Ljungberg, Silva, Fabregas, Reyes, Henry.

Where applicable credit to Aditya and Goal.com

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