Arsenal take on newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester United on Sunday at the Emirates, and Arsene Wenger will know that his side will need to pick up all three points to stave of top four rivals Chelsea and Tottenham.
Despite the visitors sitting top of the table, Arsenal are 5/4 to win against Manchester United with Ladbrokes, in what should be an exciting and end-to-end game.
The Gunners sit a point ahead of Chelsea and two ahead of Spurs before the weekend’s games, but the chasing pair have an extra game to play – ironically against each other. The Emirates side have their Champions League destiny in their own hands, with games against QPR, Wigan and Newcastle to play also.
United have won the last three meetings between the sides, including a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the last encounter at the Emirates back in January 2012. Wenger’s men will want to break this run of defeats, however they will have to be at their best if they are to get a much-needed three points.
The game will have a number of sub-plots that could well decide the result. Former Arsenal attacker Robin van Persie returns to the Emirates for the first time since his summer transfer to Old Trafford, and the hosts will need to monitor their former charge closely; Van Persie has netted 24 times in the Premier League this term.
Gunners fans will hope that their opponents will take their foot off the gas slightly given that they have already wrapped up the league title. Any slackening by United should be punished ruthlessly by the north London hosts, in a game that means a lot to Arsenal but does not have meaning for United at this stage of the campaign.
Since losing the north London derby to Tottenham at White Hart Lane, Arsenal have been in good form and won six out of their last seven games in all competitions. A hard-fought 1-0 win over Fulham in their last outing has the side in poll position in the race for Champions League qualification, but the Gunners must deliver in their final four games.
Olivier Giroud was sent off against Fulham however, and will miss the clash with United due to suspension. Arsene Wenger has a choice to make in terms of who will lead the line, with Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski ready to step into the France international’s shoes.
The clash should be an exciting game, however the most important thing is a positive result. With Chelsea taking on Swansea at home and Spurs away to Wigan, Arsenal need to get points on the board to maintain their current third place standing.
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