Barclays Premier League – Sunday 28th April, 2013 (16:00 KO) – Emirates Stadium (60,361)
Manager Arsene Wenger on United: “I expect them to come and try and play their game and win the game, like they always do when they come to the Emirates.”
Midfielder Santi Cazorla on his side’s approach to the game: “Above all we need to keep the ball. If we have the ball, we’re definitely going to hurt them. We’re a team that keeps possession well and knows how to hurt the opposition.”
Before the game comes the ‘guard of honour’. Arsene Wenger has confirmed that his players will perform one. Robin van Persie (as well as the rest!) will enjoy that. So will most United fans, too. But then, of course, comes a football match. Very important for Arsenal in their pursuit of Champions League football, less important for United, who are now playing for (further) pride and a record points haul. Furthermore, there’s very rarely a goalless draw when the two sides meet, so expect a goal or two.
Arsenal will be without French striker Olivier Giroud after his red card against Fulham last week. The challenge did look genuinely accidental, so for the ban to have been upheld was somewhat surprising. Still, from a United point-of-view, this is a good thing; Giroud has seemed to be finding his feet in English football recently. From an Arsenal point-of-view, his presence up front will be missed.
In Giroud’s absence, Theo Walcott is likely to start up front with the magical Gervinho possibly coming in to fill a wide position. Lukas Podolski will likely complete a forward trio. Elsewhere, other than the long-term injured Abou Diaby (knee) and Lukasz Fabianski (rib), Wenger has a near fully-fit squad to choose from. One change may be Jack Wilshere, who will most likely come back into the side after being on the bench at Fulham.
Predicted Arsenal line-up: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gervinho, Walcott, Podolski
Home record: P17 W10 D4 L3 F42 A21 Pts34
Home form: D W W W W D
Sir Alex on approaching the final four games: “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 I think we’ve got a duty to other clubs who are chasing Champions League places.”
United midfielder Michael Carrick on the Arsenal game: “We’ve won the league but we won’t go there and relax; we want to put on a good performance and try to play as if the title depended on it – that’s how we’ll approach it.”
Beat Villa? Check. 16 points clear? Check. Champions again? Check. Title number 20? CHECK. United travel to the Emirates Stadium safe in the knowledge that the Premier League title is on its way back to Old Trafford. Only a few questions remain: Guard of honour? Should be. Record Premier League points haul? Why not go for it. Four wins from the final four games will leave the reds on 96 points, one more than Jose Mourinho’s 2004/5 beast of a Chelsea side. Incredible for this weak United squad, no? To do so, a win at the Emirates is required.
Sir Alex stated in the aftermath of the 3-0 win over Villa that he hopes to use the coming weeks to play some of the players who have been integral to this season’s triumph but who have perhaps not been involved as much as they would have liked recently. This would indicate that Tom Cleverley, Nani, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez will all feature much more prominently in the upcoming fixtures.
Otherwise, Jonny Evans and Michael Carrick carry niggles from the Aston Villa game and could be rested. Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand should return, with Phil Jones possibly moving into midfield. Paul Scholes Watch continues, with the midfielder close to a first-team return but unlikely to be risked at the Emirates. With Anders Lindegaard only 2 appearances away from earning a Premier League Winners’ medal, expect him to feature over the coming weeks. But hopefully not on Sunday. (Sorry, Anders.) Ryan Giggs, impressive against Villa (two assists), could be rested.
Predicted United line-up: De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Jones, Rooney, Nani, Hernandez, van Persie
Away record: P17 W12 D3 L2 F35 A18 Pts39
Away form: D W W W W D
Record at the Emirates Stadium: P7 W3 D1 L3 F12 A10
Recent meetings at the Emirates Stadium:
Arsenal 1-2 United (22-01-12), Arsenal 1-0 United (01-05-11), Arsenal 1-3 United (31-01-10), Arsenal 1-3 United (05-05-09), Arsenal 2-1 United (08-11-08)
Phil Dowd. The 50-year-old official has taken charge of 22 Premier League matches this season, brandishing 62 yellow cards and sending 4 players for an early bath. Interestingly, 69% of his yellow cards have been given in the second half. He does like a penalty, awarding 8 so far. Was last seen by United fans during January’s 1-0 win over West Ham in the FA Cup.
Goals: (Arsenal) 65 – (United) 78
Conceded: 35 – 35
Top scorer: Santi Cazorla (12) – Robin van Persie (24)
Assists: Theo Walcott (10) – Wayne Rooney (10)
Most shots: Olivier Giroud (107) – Robin van Persie (128)
Most appearances: Santi Cazorla (33/1) – Robin van Persie (31/3)
Completed passes: Mikel Arteta (2272) – Michael Carrick (2194)
Disciplinary: 36 yellows, 5 reds – 49 yellows, 0 reds
Average possession: 58.9% – 56.5%
Pass success rate: 86.1% – 85.7%
- Robin van Persie has scored more goals against United than any of the current Arsenal squad.
- Wayne Rooney is currently tied with the great Jack Rowley on a club record 10 goals vs Arsenal.
- United have won 7 of the last 8 matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
- Arsenal have won 5 of their last 6 games in the Premier League.
- This will be the 49th meeting in all competitions between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. Score? SAF 22, Wenger 15.
- Arsenal have conceded just 6 goals in their last 10 games, keeping 5 clean sheets during this run.
- This current United side have the highest points-per-game average (2.47) and the highest win rate (79%) of any season since the Premier League began in 1992.
- United have stolen another “record” away from Liverpool – 22 strikes of the woodwork this season is the highest in the league.