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RVP returns to a guard of honour

Manchester+United+v+Arsenal+-+Premier+LeagueThe moment Robin Van Persie left Arsenal in the summer, this fixture was immediately circled in red on many Arsenal fans’calendars.

The Dutchman will probably be subjected to a feisty atmosphere upon his return to the Emirates, but the reception shouldn’t daunt him one bit for he’s proved he was right in leaving N5 for M16.

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Before the boos, though, Arsenal fans will have to stand and watch as their players form a guard of honour for the newly-crowned Premier League champions. For all the rivalry between the two clubs in the 1990s and early 2000s, the animosity between the two clubs has somewhat mellowed down in recent years – particularly as Arsenal have fallen off the radar in terms of competing for trophies – and Arsene Wenger has called for his players and fans to pay tribute to United, in the same way United did in 1991.

Despite having wrapped up their 20th league title on Monday night – the 13th for Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex Ferguson, which puts them level with Arsenal – United are looking to finish the season with four more wins, to secure a record Premier League points haul.

United travel to North London 21 points ahead of Arsenal – incidentally the last team before United to win the title with four games left – looking to replicate last season’s result that saw them leaving the Emirates with a 2-1 win. During the week Sir Alex hinted at the possibility of rotating his squad, although major changes are unlikely. Tom Cleverley could return in midfield after missing the last four games, while Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans are expected to start given that Nemanja Vidic are both carrying knocks.

Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney should start up-front, while the Dutchman’s replacement at the Emirates, Olivier Giroud, is suspended meaning that Theo Walcott is likely to lead the line for the Gunners.

Arsenal, who have beat United only once in the previous 11 attempts, have enjoyed an excellent run of form of late, winning five and drawing one of their last six games as they look to secure a top-four finish. The Gunners are currently third, a point ahead of Spurs and Chelsea (although the Blues have a game in hand) and a win today could put them in a commanding position in the race to a Champions League spot.

Despite enjoying the league’s best defensive record away from home, Arsenal’s defence has been leaking in goals at home where the Gunners have conceded 21 goals in 17 games, while United boast the league’s deadliest attack away from home, having scored 35 goals in 17 games.

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Dan (@MUFC_dan87)