It was just over 14 months ago. One of the finest results in Manchester United’s history. An absolute hammering of one of your bitter rivals. Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal. Take a moment to take it in. 8-2.
To beat anyone by such a scoreline is an achievement, but to beat a fellow Champions League competitor by such a scoreline is unbelievable. Lets be fair, Arsenal had just sold two of their better players, Fabregas and Nasri, and replaced them with nobody.
Fast forward 14 months and Arsenal have again sold two of their better players in Alex Song and Robin van Persie. However, before we start getting our hopes up of another 10 goal thriller, lets remember that Arsenal are a completely different team to the one we hammered last August. They have since replaced van Persie with Podolski and Giroud. Jack Wilshere was out with what would turn out to be a long term injury, and Mikel Arteta was still an Everton player.
But whilst Arsenal are an improved side compared to last seasons encounter, arguably, so are United, who we all know signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal this summer for what is starting to look like a bargain price of £24m. The former gooner has already hit 9 goals for United, 7 of which have come in our first 9 league games.
United currently lie 2nd in the league and todays game gives us the chance to hit the summit for the first time this season, before Chelsea’s fixture away at Swansea. This game certainly has to be looked at for goals as United are the top scorers in the league, leading the way with 24 goals in our opening 9 games (2.66 per game). Arsenal head into the game, outside of the Champions League places in 6th position, scoring 14 goals in the process. (1.5 goals/game).
The stats are certainly on United’s side, and you would just about have to argue that United should be favourites for this one. However, the two sides were involved in midweek in the Capital One Cup, and the two matches provided an astonishing 21 goals, our 5-4 defeat to Chelsea and Arsenal’s amazing 7-5 comeback to beat Reading, after being 4-1 down at half time.
United go into the game still with a pretty easy to select back 4, as Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are still on the comeback trail, as well as Captain Nemanja Vidic who is also out. Shinji Kagawa is also still out with his knee injury sustained against Braga in the Champions League. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has called for a ‘respectful’ reception from the Arsenal fans for the new United No.20, Robin van Persie, who of course swapped North London, for the North West this summer. RVP must be one of the first names on the teamsheet tomorrow alongside Wayne Rooney. However, the in form Javier Hernandez must be pushing for a starting spot after scoring 4 goals in the last 3 United games. Anderson was also impressive in midweek against Chelsea, having a hand in 3 of the 4 United goals, giving Sir Alex a welcome selection headache in the centre of the park.
Predicted Lineupde Gea Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Young Rooney van Persie
As suggested earlier in my piece, United are the favourites with the bookmakers. Manchester United are available at 8/11. The draw is priced at 11/4 whilst Arsenal are out at 15/4. As we discussed earlier, United and Arsenal both have the ability to score goals and not be so resiliant at the back, so 11/1 for a 3-1 United win and a 18/1 for a 3-2 United win seem like good bets. If you fancy a goal fest like last season, a bet of 8.5 goals or more is well priced at 66/1.
Whislt we are talking about goals, it would be rude not to mention who will score them. Former gooner and now United goal scorer, RVP, is odds on to score at any time with odds of 10/11. He is also available at 7/2 to be either the 1st or last scorer.
Olivier Giroud is the favourite to score for Arsenal at an 11/4 bet for an anytime bet, although Lukas Podolski is available at 3/1. Javier Hernandez is 7/4 to score at any time, to continue his excellent recent scoring record. Wayne Rooney is 33/1 to repeat his hat trick heroics of last term.
(Odds with Skybet correct as of 01:00)
The match report will of course be available here at Old Trafford Faithful.