Arsenal v Manchester United – 12th Feb 2014
Arsenal forward Yaya Sanogo is available to face Manchester United on Wednesday after five months out with a back injury.
Mathieu Flamini completes a three-match ban, while Aaron Ramsey, Kim Kallstrom, Thomas Vermaelen, Abou Diaby and Theo Walcott are all injured.
Manchester United pair Phil Jones and Jonny Evans will both miss the game with calf injuries.
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini is still out with a groin problem.
Arsene Wenger admitted his side’s dismantling at the hands of Liverpool “raises some questions” about Arsenal’s title credentials.
David Moyes remarked on Sunday that Manchester United’s failure to win at home against bottom-of-the-table Fulham was “as bad as it gets”.
Moyes called it “mental softness”. It’s a charge that has more commonly been levelled at Arsenal, seemingly every year since they last won a trophy in 2005.
Both sides are lacking leadership on the field. Arsenal’s record signing Mesut Ozil has been a bystander in some big games of late. His £42.5m price tag demands that he is typically phenomenal, not peripheral. The suspended Mathieu Flamini is badly missed in the middle of the park. Olivier Giroud looks drained.
As for Manchester United, is captain Nemanja Vidic the ideal man to rally the troops now that he has announced he will depart Old Trafford in the summer? Robin van Persie continues to score but looks subdued. United’s midfield seldom dominate.
For Arsenal, at least, the setbacks this season have been rare.
“We tend always to forget how good we are when we are not successful,” said Wenger on Tuesday. “We can show now until the end of the season that people who think (we cannot win big games) are wrong.”
Moyes’ mantra was similar: “We are a top side and hopefully we’ll go and show that.”
If both sides back up those words on Wednesday, it promises to be a better game than the reverse fixture, in which Robin van Persie’s winning goal against his previous club provided a rare highlight for Moyes this season.
For at least one side though, the post mortem will continue.
- Manchester United have only lost one of their last 13 meetings with Arsenal in all competitions (W10, D2, L1). That sole Arsenal win came courtesy of Aaron Ramsey’s goal at the Emirates in May 2011.
- The clubs have met 218 times in all competitions. Manchester United lead by 92 wins to Arsenal’s 79 and there have been 47 draws.
- Arsenal have lost to Manchester United 20 times in the Premier League, more than they have against any other team.
- Arsenal’s 5-1 thrashing at Liverpool on Saturday was their first defeat in nine league games (W6, D2).
- They suffered the heaviest defeat by a Premier League leader since Norwich were thrashed 7-1 by Blackburn in October 1992.
- The Gunners are unbeaten at home in the Premier League since an opening-day defeat against Aston Villa. They have only conceded one goal, against Everton, in their last eight league matches at the Emirates.
- Arsene Wenger’s side have the division’s best record when scoring the opening goal – winning on 16 of the 18 occasions they have done so, and losing only once.
- Mesut Ozil has failed to score and contributed two assists in his last eight league games, compared to four goals and six assists in his first 12 appearances for Arsenal.
- United were 10 points clear at the top this time last season. They are now 15 points adrift of the leaders, and nine away from fourth.
- They are 21 points, eight wins, six places and 19 goals worse off than at the same stage of last season.
- It’s their lowest points tally after 25 matches since the 1990-91 season, when they were a point worse off.
- United attempted 81 crosses (including set pieces) against Fulham on Sunday, the most by any side in a Premier League game since Opta’s records began in August 2006. Only 18 crosses found a team-mate.
- Robin van Persie has scored seven goals in his last eight league appearances. He scored 132 goals in 278 matches for Arsenal in all competitions between 2004 and 2012.
- Van Persie has scored in each of the last five meetings between these two teams, the first two times for Arsenal and the last three for Manchester United.
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