Manchester United v Arsenal: Match Preview
Whilst Aaron Ramsey continued his very model performance of a modern box-to-box goal-scoring midfielder in Arsenal's remarkable triumph away to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions' League, the night before Manchester United produced a labouring performance after being reduced to ten men by the dismissal of Fellaini to secure a goalless draw in San Sebastián against Real Sociedad. As the two clubs move towards Sunday's appointed clash at Old Trafford, it's not difficult to discern who is experiencing the better form at the moment.
United have been seen of late to be drawing themselves out of the pit of apparent poor form that the loss of Sir Alex Ferguson appeared to have condemned them to. A comeback victory against Stoke city with a couple of late goals was much the sort of Ferguson performance that would warm the heart of new manager David Moyes, and a then routine win away to Fulham would have further convinced doubters that the red machine as finally cranking up into action. With Rooney and van Persie showing the sort of form and goal-scoring panache required, United are closing the points gap to the top of the league with accelerating zeal. Arsenal however, who sit atop of the table, are in even better shape.
The Gunners were faced with three testing games, that many declared would shape their season. Liverpool at home in the league, complete with hotshot pairing of Suarez and Sturridge were visiting the Emirates, before an away date against Dortmund, culminating with a trip up the M6 to visit Old Trafford.
The game against Liverpool turned into a virtual tour de force performance as Wenger's team comfortably eased past the visitors with goals from Cazorla, and who else but the dynamic Ramsey, who has now netted as many goals this season as in the previous six combined. The much-vaunted front two of Liverpool were only spasmodic threats, and were comfortably smothered by Mertersacker and Koscielny. Now with the Dortmund victory also in their pockets, the Gunners will rock up at Old Trafford full of confidence.
Recent years have seen this game as very much a defining part of both teams’ seasons. Wins for one club has often been the knock-out blow for the league aspirations of the other. With the gunners already some eight points clear of United, should they manage to take the three points away from Old Trafford, the lead will be in double figures, and start to assume unscalable proportions for David Moyes’ nascent regime.
As is often the case, the game is likely to be a tense and tight affair with a one goal margin likely to be decisive. Each team will look to their ‘game winner’ players to swing the clash in their favour. United will be looking to the rejuvenated Rooney to either score or create an opening for ex-Gunner van Persie, whilst Arsenal will be hoping the craft of Ozil or the rumbustious current form of Giroud could be decisive. It may be the case however, that the decisive moment falls to a certain Welshman.
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