Preview: Arsenal v United

Phil Jones Arsenal

Robin van Persie will command the headlines Sunday afternoon, although the former Arsenal striker is unlikely to receive a welcoming entrance at the Emirates. Manchester United’s visit to north London less than a week after claiming the Premier League title ensures that the Dutchman garners a much discussed ‘Guard of Honour’ from his former colleagues; a customary recognition that will do little for the home supporters’ mood.

It is in keeping with modern football of course, but the abuse meted out to van Persie at his old stomping ground is likely to both be severe and personal. Little of it will bother the remarkably mature Dutchman, who has scored 27 goals in his début season for the club.

That van Persie has secured the prize he sought when leaving the Emirates last summer is only likely to heighten the hate generated on the terraces though.

Still, with Arsenal finishing the season strongly in the hunt for fourth place the home side has much to play for away from the focus on a former player. Meanwhile United, driven by the goal of reaching a record 96 points, but potentially attenuated by the recent triumph, is a beast unknown.

Indeed, with the title won Sir Alex Ferguson has already ditched the bravado of victory to focus on the next challenge. No matter the season’s stage, winning is all says the 71-year-old Scot. United must secured 12 points from  four remaining games to beat Chelsea’s record top flight tally of 95 achieved under José Mourinho in 2005.

“At a club like Manchester United there’s an expectation to live up to,” Ferguson said.

“You really need to win all the time and that’s all there is to it. I’ve said to the players it’s one thing being champions of the Premier League but another thing to set a record. We have an opportunity to set the record and, hopefully, we can do that. If we can do that, 96 points would be phenomenal. I don’t know if that could ever be beaten but nonetheless it’s a marvellous achievement by us.”

United host Chelsea at Old Trafford next weekend, followed by matches against Swansea City and then West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the season. With little to play for, achieving a points record is likely to be a tough ask, with Chelsea and Arsenal competing with Tottenham Hotspur for two Champions League places.

“Well, there are four different types of challenge,” Ferguson told MUTV.

“We’ve got Arsenal who are chasing a Champions League position and then it’s Chelsea, who are in exactly the same position as Arsenal. I think we’ve got a duty to other clubs who are chasing Champions League places.

“Also, the rivalry we’ve had with Arsenal and then Chelsea over the years does put an edge to these games anyway so hopefully we’ll represent ourselves in the right way.

“Having won the league, there’s always a danger of falling into the trap of ‘it’s all over and we can relax’ and enjoy ourselves but .

Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League, Emirates Stadium - 4pm, 28 April 2013Ferguson is likely to field a changed side at the Emirates, with defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić available for recall. The veteran pair missed United’s title-clinching victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Monday night.

Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans suffered injury against Villa, although neither misses the trip altogether, while Paul Scholes is still unavailable with a sore knee. The 38-year-old has less than a month before an inevitable second retirement this summer. Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck could come back into the team, with Phil Jones deployed in midfield.

“We have a few bumps and bruises from the other night but it is hopefully nothing serious and I expect to have a strong side on Sunday,” Ferguson confirmed.

“Two of the players played with an injury throughout the [Villa] game – Jonny Evans and Michael Carrick. Next week, I should have Vida and Rio back. I can put Jones into the middle of the pitch and play Vida and Rio together and we’ll get the experience going to Arsenal.

“A lot of the younger players have been on the fringes for the last few weeks, and I desperately want them to feel their contribution has been big. Chicharito, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Nani – I think it’s important to get them involved in the last few weeks.”

Meanwhile, Arsène Wenger’s side holds a single point advantage over Chelsea and Spurs in the hunt for fourth place. Tottenham’s draw with Wigan Athletic on Saturday hands an advantage to their north London rivals – with matches against Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United to come, qualification is surely the Gunners’ to lose.

Still, the question of whether United’s intensity will drop is a potent one, especially with the Premier League secure. Ferguson’s call for focus chimes poorly with a sense of complacency that has crept into United’s play at times this season, particularly during the second half of matches. It is an understandable conceit with 27 victories achieved in the Premier League.

“It’s easy to ease off, yes,” said Wenger, who has never finished outside the top four in a more than a decade with Arsenal.

“I do not hope too much. It is a special game, always, a little bit because naturally the stress is not there any more. Your tendency is to relax a little bit. You are still on the high for the next game. It would be a big mistake for us to think they will ease off straight away on Sunday.”

Yet, if Ferguson’s side does drop its intensity level at the Emirates it is unlikely to be the returning hero that does so. The striker has found a rich vein of form at just the right time. Nine matches without a goal ended with five scored in the last three, including the stunning hat-trick against Villa.

That United has tasted defeat just once in the past 11 meetings with Arsenal bodes well for van Persie. And while the Dutchman celebrated in muted fashion after scoring in the fixture between these sides at Old Trafford, none of the visiting supporters will begrudge the Dutchman his moment on Sunday. Especially in the face of mass vitriol.

Match details
Arsenal v Manchester United – Premier League, Emirates – 4pm, 28 April 2013

Possible teams
Arsenal (4-3-3): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Arteta, Wilshere; Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski. Subs from: Mannone, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Rosicky, Gervinho, Arshavin,  Oxlade-Chamberlain

United (4-4-2): de Gea; Rafael, Vidić, Ferdinand, Evra; Jones; Cleverley, Carrick, Rooney; Kagawa; van Persie. Subs from: Lindegaard, Büttner, Jones, Evans, Powell, Carrick, Valencia, Anderson, Giggs, Nani, Welbeck, Hernández

Match officials
Referee: P Dowd
Assistants: A Garratt and S Ledger
Fourth official: M Oliver

Arsenal: WWWDWW
United: WLLWDW

Last 10: Arsenal 1, United 8, Draw 1
Overall: Arsenal 78, United 91, Draw 46


  • Per Mertesacker’s goal against Fulham last weekend helped Arsenal climb into third place in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory at Craven Cottage;
  • Midfielder Jack Wilshere started that game on the bench, but is likely to feature against United – the youngster boasts a pass in his opponent’s half once every 2 and half minutes this season;
  • Kieran Gibbs boasts a tackle success rate of 71.2 per cent from 66 attempted challenges this season,
  • Striker Olivier Giroud’s red card last weekend ensures the Frenchman is suspended for United’s visit, proffering Theo Walcott an opportunity through the middle – Walcott boasts the best minutes-per-shot rate of any player in the Gunners squad at one every 30.2 minutes;
  • Robin van Persie’s hat-trick against Villa secured a 20th league title for United last Monday – they were the 22nd, 23rd and 24th Premier League goals of the Dutchman’s season;
  • van Persie’s goals have come amid an attempt on goal once every 24.7 minutes on average this season, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index;
  • Michael Carrick has finally garnered the recognition his consistent performances have long deserved – the midfielder has achieved more than 1000 successful passes in the opponent’s half this season and is the only United player to do so;
  • Jonny Evans may not play at the Emirates, but the Northern Irishman has again blossomed this season, achieving the best tackle success rate in the United squad of 73.5 per cent from 34 attempted challenges.


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  1. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    look at that ffs

    rooney and jones

    why has it come to this

    • ” look at that ffs

      rooney and jones

      why has it come to this”

      I’d say it’s a guess but Ferg pretty much said that would be the midfield earlier in the week. Unless he’s full of BS of course, which he normally is…

  2. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    LOL… that whole midfield is made of players, playing out of their natural positions.
    “Best squad he’s ever had” my arse… in the whole bloody squad, he’s only got 3 natural wingers… one is mid-table ordinaryness, one is a too fuckin stupid, and the other is nearly 40…
    Then there’s our awesome midfield… Carrick… and a collection of shite!
    The most frustrating thing is, everywhere else we’re very strong…
    Ferguson could actually field an excellent team… if he’d only spend the neccessaries on 2/3 quality midfielders.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  3. uncleknobheadffs said:
    look at that ffs
    rooney and jones
    why has it come to this

    What if they look like Keane and Ince?
    It’s not the worst idea. If we’re committed to playing with Kagawa as a 10, Rooney choices are CM or LW. May as well see if he can do it before the season is over.

  4. Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Ferguson could actually field an excellent team… if he’d only spend the neccessaries on 2/3 quality midfielders.

    We could have had this midfield issue sorted a long time ago.

    Dortmund have shown that you don’t have to spend obscene sums to buy quality players. Gundogan cost £4.8 million, Reus was £15 million and Sven Bender was free.

    Juventus spent about £10 million on Vidal and he’s class.

    I reckon Fergie will be given money this summer. Let’s see how he spends it.

  5. Surely Nani will be given a game today.

  6. sven bender…

  7. SAF & his team have worked a miracle getting the title with the players he has available by all accounts reading the posts on here

  8. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    marlon said:
    What if they look like Keane and Ince?

    It’s not the worst idea. If we’re committed to playing with Kagawa as a 10, Rooney choices are CM or LW. May as well see if he can do it before the season is over.

    why are we commited to playing an inferior player who often goes missing in rooneys position

    and why are we commited to turning englands most talented defender since rio into john oshea

  9. de Gea



    van Persie

    SUBS: Lindegaard, Buttner, Anderson, Cleverley, Giggs, Kagawa, Hernandez.

  10. Hernandez still benched

    Still no Powell

  11. RobDiablo RobDiablo says:

    I’m not sure what to expect from this match. I know that Sir Alex wants the points record to prove how good his squad is, but I’m not convinced that the players themselves care all that much. Perhaps, the players know that the record will only serve as an easy to grab prop for the ‘kool-aid’ drinkers out there who either don’t actually watch the matches or who can be convinced afterwards that a win must have meant the side played well.
    On the other hand, it’s just possible that Sir Alex is laughing at Alf’s insistence that United need to change managers in order to get some new thinking about formations, tactics, etc. How far ahead of the curve might his ‘no midfielders in midfield’ lineups eventually prove to be? A few seasons from now, all the big clubs could be doing it.

  12. Minus The Bear says:

    I think he will put out the youngsters eventually. The U21′s had to play Wolves on friday night but now they are out of contention we should see a couple of them get played in the last couple of games.

  13. Minus The Bear says:

    Well that should have woken them up.

  14. Evra? WTF

  15. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Evra with league 2 defending!

  16. Minus The Bear says:

    Walcott was offside though. It wasn’t even a hard decision to make and the linesman was bang smack in front of it.

  17. Half a yard off at least, but we can hardly complain after last week

  18. Jones should score, but that’s probably his first chance on goal in months

  19. Minus The Bear says:

    Arsenal are playing like a team for something to play for whereas United look like they are counting down the days… At least if they lose this the points total goes.

  20. Arsenal have dropped off, they’re having moments of proper shitness now, this is more like them

  21. Phil Jones jesus christ

    We’re doing that thing were when the centrebacks get the ball the entire team run 60 yards away from the ball leaving massive gaps in midfield and forcing us to go long

  22. Hoof ball shite

    Absolute fucking nightmare

  23. Is this the fattest Phil Dowd has ever been

    State of him

  24. Minus The Bear says:

    Fuck me this referee is an absolute cunt, is it a yellow card for every foul for united but another chance for every arsenal foul.

  25. so who said Jones in midfield is a good idea?

  26. Heh, how many yellows now? 5? Absolute fat useless lazy unfit cunt

  27. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Fucking hungover!

  28. fat short sighted cunt of a referee for sure
    can’t see us keeping all 11 for the full game

  29. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:




  30. Van Persie should score

  31. Penalty get the fck in

    Great Arsenal defending there

  32. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Thank fuck!!

  33. Minus The Bear says:

    At least in midfield Jones makes an attempt to score and get forwards. Unlike some of our other “midfielders”.

    Good pen. What a thick bastard Sagna is, that was Eboue levels of dickheadedness.

  34. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Now come on wake the fuck up!

  35. 1-1 is right

    We’ve had 3 great chances to score

  36. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    Great pen that.

  37. Dean Jackson says:

    Again, great show of respect not to celebrate.

  38. Commenter said:
    Again, great show of respect not to celebrate.

    tevcunt should take note

  39. RobDiablo RobDiablo says:

    Are we Bolton
    Are we Bolton
    Are we Bolton in disguise?

    United can’t keep the ball on the floor, and the sad thing is that there aren’t too many options on the bench to improve matters much. Perhaps Cleverley on for Jones and/or Kagawa on for Rooney.

  40. We were shit for most of the first half apart from a brief period before the penalty where RVP headed the ball at their keeper’s face.

    I really thought we’d turn up and play with freedom, given that the league is wrapped up.

    Arsenal got their tactics right and pressed high up the pitch but we’ve looked really lethargic.

    Apologists will no doubt say that we’re still traumatised from the Madrid defeat.

    Fergie should tear into our players at half time.

  41. RobDiablo said:
    Are we Bolton
    Are we Bolton
    Are we Bolton in disguise?

    United can’t keep the ball on the floor, and the sad thing is that there aren’t too many options on the bench to improve matters much. Perhaps Cleverley on for Jones and/or Kagawa on for Rooney.

    When one of our defenders gets the ball everybody from the midfield onwards runs forward leaving massive gaps in midfield, so there’s no option but to hit it long
    It’s another dysfunctional 11 and formation that can’t pass the ball from back to front without it breaking down

  42. RobDiablo RobDiablo says:

    sidney said:
    When one of our defenders gets the ball everybody from the midfield onwards runs forward leaving massive gaps in midfield, so there’s no option but to hit it long

    It’s another dysfunctional 11 and formation that can’t pass the ball from back to front without it breaking down

    Too true, but we’ve had this problem off-and-on all season, we should have worked it out by now.

  43. We’ve had 4 great chances to score now

  44. Sagna off surely

  45. Jesus christ, he’s forgotten the Sagna challenge, it’s a yellow, he should be off

  46. wtf did he give valencia a yellow for?

  47. “You’re not fit to referee” from the Arsenal fans

    It wasn’t a penalty, but fucking hell, he’s a fat useless cunt

  48. Ref having a shocker. How is Valencia handball worthy of a yellow?

  49. Minus The Bear says:

    You’re not fit to referee chants going on now.

    Phil Dowd must hate spurs.

  50. Nani has been shite.

  51. RobDiablo RobDiablo says:

    Does Rooney need eyeglasses?

  52. We’re dominating midfield and possession now

  53. madredmonkey madredmonkey says:

    sheesh said:
    Nani has been shite.

    how many times we said that.

  54. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Fucking hell Valencia run fucking forward you shithouse cunt!

    I don’t know why the fuck Nani is just jogging back either!

  55. Moooooooooove ffs

  56. Minus The Bear says:

    Whoses fatter, Dowd or Anderson?

  57. Bring on welbeck.

  58. Dowd without a doubt

    I’m sure he was just wildly booking players to stamp his authority on the game because he couldn’t be arsed to run or move about much

  59. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    Valencia really makes me angry!

  60. brianofnazareth said:
    Valencia really makes me angry!

    He’s totally ineffective these days.

  61. Alfonso Bedoya Alfonso Bedoya says:

    bman said:
    He’s totally ineffective these days.

    Yeah but he runs well, don’t he?

  62. brianofnazareth brianofnazareth says:

    bman said:
    He’s totally ineffective these days.

    It’s like he’s scared to run at defenders?? That’s his job ffs!

  63. If our wingers weren’t so rubbish, we would have won comfortably today.

  64. We’ve had chances to kill them off today

  65. Minus The Bear says:

    Valencia will get one more season, purely cos he can play full back and Zaha is an unknown quantity. Nani is gone.

  66. Oh well no points record. This season really lost any tension after the loss to Real.

  67. We should have done em. We had 4 or 5 great chances even when we had no midfield in the first half.

    But with that ref, fucking hell, I’ll take a point. Could have been a lot worse.

  68. Hopefully we’ll see the kids now.

  69. han said:
    tevcunt should take note

    but he never celebrates against West Ham.

  70. Last May Dowd failed his fitness test

    Why the fuck is a ref’s fitness determined at the end of a season – before they go on holiday – and not at the start of the season. It’s daft.

    So this season he presumably “regained his fitness” and is able to ref… even though the cunt looked fatter today than he did when he failed his test.

  71. Thought Nani was one of our better players and Rooney was utter rubbish. We started slow and never really recovered from it. They just ran through our midfield. Hopefully Powell gets some games from now

  72. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    is cleverley ever going to play again

  73. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    and why does valencia always play

  74. Pikey McScum Pikey McScum says:

    marlon said:
    Hopefully we’ll see the kids now.

    There’s a name for people like you

  75. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    this is going to be one shite end to the season tbf

    nothing to play for and still taggarts gonna fuck everything up

  76. Denton Davey says:

    Minus The Bear @ 5:53: “Valencia will get one more season, purely cos he can play full back and Zaha is an unknown quantity.”

    AV7 will be TheNewThreeLungPark. SAF likes his favourites.

  77. Denton Davey says:

    MaadMax @ 6:40: “Rooney was utter rubbish”

    Right – it was his fault that Giggs fucked up that chance to sew up three points when TheWayneBoy crossed the ball over-and-behind TheArse defenders to send TheLegend in all alone. Gimme strength – some of you guys just see what you want to see.

  78. Rooney was better in 2nd half…but was bad in the 1st
    Jones had a couple of chances….need to practice his finishing!
    Evra was horrid in the 1st half…
    Edit: giggs shouldve won it too!
    Clear penalty to me…
    Tbf I dont see it as negative as many of you guys…we just simply lacked the hunger and drive to win…which of course is bad in of itself but that I believe Fergie will sort out in due course
    What I saw was a United team that wasnt trying very hard but still achieved a very comfortable draw against Arsenal…despite an offside goal

  79. uncleknobheadffs said:
    is cleverley ever going to play again

    Playing for our under 21s tonight.
    I know he needs games but that’s a bit strange. I wonder if he is he on his way out of United.

  80. uncleknobheadffs uncleknobheadffs says:

    well that fall from grace happened quickly

  81. RobDiablo RobDiablo says:

    uncleknobheadffs said:
    well that fall from grace happened quickly

    Let’s hope that it is just a case of playing for England (really?)—and as a ’10′, at that—messing with his head a bit. Perhaps, sitting on the subs’ bench and playing with the under-21s will bring him back to earth and help him refocus.

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