Arsenal face one of their toughest Premier League tests of the early season when they travel north to face a somewhat struggling Manchester United side at Old Trafford on Sunday at 4pm. It will be the 218th meeting between the two clubs and the league-leading Gunners will be hoping to head home to London with all three points in their back pocket and an 11-point lead over their rivals.
These two teams have produced some of the most exciting and dramatic contests in history over the years and who knows what tomorrow may bring. Who can forget Arsenal’s famous 3-2 win against United in the 1979 FA Cup Final at Wembley? Arsenal had a 2-0 lead with four minutes to go and watched in horror as the game was level at 2-2 just two minutes later. However, Alan Sunderland was the hero for the Gunners that day as he scored the winner in the 89th minute.
The two sides also produced a memorable match in October of 1990 at Old Trafford when a brawl erupted on the pitch. Arsenal were deducted two points for their behaviour but came home 1-0 winners. Another famous game took place in April of 1999 at Villa Park when United edged the Gunners 2-1 in a replay of their FA Cup semi-final clash. Ten-man United won the match when Ryan Giggs beat several players and scored a superb goal against keeper David Seaman.
Back in October of 2004, Arsenal had a 49-match undefeated streak going when United snapped it with a 2-0 at home. There was a bit of a scuffle after the game and somebody happened to throw pizza at former United manager Alex Ferguson. But perhaps the game that sticks out in most Arsenal fans’ memories was the 8-2 thrashing their 10-man side took at Old Trafford in October of 2011. It was the Gunners biggest loss since way back in 1896.
That’s a game most of the current Arsenal squad will never forget and will be out to make sure they’re never embarrassed that way again. To do so, they will have to play a free-flowing attacking game and dictate the pace. They need to go at United rather than sit back and make sure they take advantage of the chances they manage to create.
Arsenal is coming off of an impressive 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday and will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak on the road to 16 games. They currently have 13 wins and a pair of draws during the string. United were held to a 0-0 draw in Spain on Tuesday when they visited Real Sociedad in the Champions League. This of course will be the first time the two sides have met in the Premier League era without Ferguson managing United.
United has three wins, a draw and a loss in their past five outings after losing three of their first half dozen league matches under new manager David Moyes. They have 10 points in their last four games though and seem to be back on track for now. However, they have been playing some of the league’s weaker teams, such as Fulham, Sunderland and Stoke City. Ex-Gunner Robin van Persie has managed to score in his last three league appearances and has six goals in nine games now.
Arsenal will also have to keep an eye on Wayne Rooney, who has five goals and always players well against the Gunners. In their own end of the pitch, United has just a pair of clean sheets this season and are vulnerable against a quick-paced attack. It looks like Moyes may be without the services of Michael Carrick, Rafael, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck for the encounter, but that won’t be confirmed until game time.
Arsenal has four wins and a draw in their last five outings, but may have to play this game without Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Jack Wilshere,
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Yaya Sanogo. If anybody does make the squad it will likely be Flamini. Van Persie scored in this fixture last season in a 2-1 United win. The return match at the Emirates saw the teams battle to a 1-1 draw.
Overall, these sides have faced each other a total of 217 times with Arsenal winning 79 times, drawing 41 and losing 91. They’ve also been outscored over the years by 334 to 308. This should be another hotly contested meeting and it’s one Arsenal has the capability of winning if they stick to attacking football.