By Pete Jaison:
Considered to be one of the fiercest clashes in England over the last decade, the hype and heat surrounding this fixture has declined over the years. But Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford might be the start of another long rivalry between these two English giants. United, who has dominated this fixture in recent years will be facing a rejuvenated Arsenal team who are a place above them in the league standings. However the last time these two teams met was in the quarter finals of the FA cup but it was Arsenal who had the last laugh when United discard , Danny Welbeck pounced on a poor back pass by Antonio Valencia and drilled home the winner. Which makes tomorrow’s match all the more interesting.
Manchester United have recorded five straight home wins over Arsenal in the league and another one would test the Gunner’s character in the race for the third position.After a stuttering start and a grueling mid-season ,United played their best football in recent years as they raced to a 5 match winning streak beating the likes of Tottenham , Liverpool and Manchester City on their run. But a loss against eventual champions Chelsea triggered a 3 match losing run and it ended only last week as United huffed and puffed before beating Crystal Palace 2-1.
Arsenal on the other hand found their lost rhythm at the turn of the year and was easily the best team in the league for the past 3 months. But they suffered a shock defeat to Swansea in their last PL encounter which leaves them only 2 points ahead of United(with a game in hand).
Unexpectedly ,the Reds have another chance to pressurise Arsenal and win on Sunday will buoy them to third place and avoid a champions league play-off that United manager, Louis Van Gaal would not look forward too.
SEASONAL MAGAZINE PREDICTION:
Man United 2-2 Arsenal
Expect a high attacking – high intensity match at Old Trafford on Sunday as old foes meet each other again this season with both teams fighting for the third PL position.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Marrounne Fellaini: This season has witnessed the big Belgian in the form of his life after a disappointing first season under David Moyes. Playing further up the pitch , Fellaini has been one of the most consistent performers for United this season and his burly figure in the box might be the decisive factor that will help United edge out the Gunners.
Ashley Young : Another player who seems to have found his best form after a disastrous campaign last year. With his energy bursting runs from the wing , Young has been near outstanding for United and it was his tireless work rate that ended United’s 3 match losing streak last week.
Alexis Sanchez : The former Barcelona forward was the main reason behind his side’s success this season and it wouldn’t leave anyone surprised if he manages to inspire his side to success over the Red Devils. Blessed with great pace and excellent professionalism , the Chilean has been one of the best performers in the premier league this season and he would definitely want to end his season on a high.
Francis Coquelin: He was one of the best performers for Arsenal in their FA cup victory over the Red Devils and his presence in the base of the midfield was key in nullifying the threat of Fellaini and he will have to repeat his performance on Sunday if the north London club are to leave Old Traford with all three points.