You’ll hear a lot about revenge after Arsenal’s 8-2 loss to Man United at Old Trafford in August, but the Gunners have no one to resent for that historic, embarrassing result but themselves. They’ll be hoping for a significantly better showing here (it would be hard to do worse). Arsenal did beat United 1-0 in their home meeting last season, though that was their one win in the last nine against the Red Devils. This has been a rivalry, but only in sentiment.
A Television First: FOX is televising this, making it the first EPL match played live on American broadcast television, in most markets. Six affiliates – Cleveland, Indianapolis, Raleigh/Durham, Miami, Milwaukee and Atlanta – will be showing the match on tape delay, lest they disrupt some good ‘Merican infomercials, church programming and local sports content. This match will be another preview of FOX’s mainstream soccer coverage ahead of the World Cup. It will also feature expert analysis from Piers Morgan, who is famous and follows an English club. Granted those criteria, we would’ve gone for Clive Owen.
The Stakes: Manchester United need the win to keep pace in the title race. Losing could see them drop six points back of City, or, depending on today’s result, fall behind Tottenham into third. Arsenal, realistically, are playing for the fourth Champions League place. Given Chelsea’s draw to Norwich, getting a result is not essential, but losing would leave them five points adrift and sacrifice an opportunity to pick up points.
Key for Manchester Untied: Exploit the wings. The Gunners have lost two straight in the league and looked vulnerable defensively, because every fullback on the squad is injured. Swansea filleted this Arsenal weak point last week in their 3-2 win. With players such as Valencia and Nani, United are more than well equipped to do the same.
Key for Arsenal: Intimidate in midfield. Manchester United did not land their much needed midfielder last summer. Darren Fletcher is out indefinitely. They are reliant on an aged Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and now Paul Scholes out of retirement, not exactly a title winning midfield. Those gents are skillful with the ball, but susceptible to being outrun and overpowered. Arsenal’s Ramsey and Song are athletic enough to give the Mancunians fits. Whether they have the fortitude to do so is another matter.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal.
[Photo via Getty]