ANALYSIS: Arsenal Take On Rivals Man Utd

approved geneva; font-size: small;”>Defender Thomas Vermaelen is a major doubt with a similar problem, which has already ruled out Mikel Arteta.

Manchester United pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are available after both missed last weekend’s win over Bolton with minor injuries.

Anderson is currently sidelined after suffering a training-ground injury.


There may be new, blue money over to the west of London and the east of Manchester. But this is a fixture which bristles with old-school tradition; a fixture which has become one of the Premier League’s enduring themes.

It’s a game which has long been overseen by the guiding hands of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger playing out a rivalry that has encompassed their mutual dislike and, more recently, grudging respect. For the record, this will be the 47th time that the two managers have locked horns – and Fergie edges it 21 wins to 16.

If Scholes and Henry play, it’ll be just like the good old days. Suffice to say, this has never been a game to lose

At times, this fixture has thrown up games so good they border on high art. On other occasions, it’s been about throwing pizza. Savour the personalities and personality clashes resonating through the years: Wright and Schmeichel, Keown and Van Nistelrooy, Keane and Vieira. If Scholes and Henry play, it’ll be just like the good old days.

Over the Fergie/Wenger years they have played out title deciders, FA Cup semi-finals and a final – and a Champions League semi-final. In recent years, United have had the clear advantage – winning seven and losing just one of the last nine meetings, culminating in the 8-2 humiliation for Arsenal in August.

Uncharacteristically, United seemed to take their eye off the ball against Blackburn and Newcastle and let slip a great opportunity to apply pressure on City at the top. There are still doubts about this team, particularly defensively, and after playing Arsenal they will take on Liverpool in the FA Cup, Stoke, Chelsea and Liverpool again in the league, and then Ajax in the Europa League. That’s the kind of run designed to sort out the men from the boys, the kind of challenge Ferguson’s teams normally thrive on.

Meantime, Arsenal’s dreaded inconsistency has returned with a vengeance. Back-to-back league losses at Fulham and Swansea have infuriated Wenger, particularly after they worked so hard to make up lost ground on the top four.

What represents a good result for United and Arsenal? That may be determined by the outcome of the earlier Manchester City versus Tottenham game – but, suffice to say, this has never been a game to lose.


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