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Time for United to shed the inferiority complex

Man-Utd-v-EvertonWhile we wait to find out whether Daley Blind’s knee injury will keep him out for six days, six weeks, six months or six years, proper football makes a welcome return as the third international break in as many months is finally behind us.

As it’s becoming the norm this season, United are decimated by injuries and confidence isn’t exactly sky-high ahead of a testing trip to the Emirates. A last minute draw against Chelsea was followed by a somewhat unfortunate defeat against City and an unconvincing win against Crystal Palace, which has left United a point behind Saturday’s opponents and just two adrift of fourth place.

United have not won against one the big four for over a year – when Arsenal, incidentally, fell to a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford – and the sooner the Reds get rid of this inferiority complex, the better. Results against Chelsea and City would look a lot better if United were to pick up three points on Saturday, while another defeat would see the thunder of doubts grow louder and louder.

Arsenal have problems of their own after a promising start to the campaign was somewhat derailed before the international break, as the Gunners surrendered a 3-0 lead against Anderlecht, thus all but relinquishing any chances of winning the group, and that was followed by a 2-1 defeat at Swansea, where Arsenal had led with 20 minutes to go.

UNITED TEAM NEWS

Well, where do we start? Phil jones, Marcos Rojo, Johnny Evans, Rafael, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao are all injured, which means United might be forced to field one between Tyler Blackett and Paddy McNair alongside the Chris Smalling, with Antonio Valencia at right-back. Alexis Sanchez will undoubtedly be bricking it.

David De Gea, Angel Di Maria and Michael Carrick have all passed fit and all three are expected to feature, though United’s midfield remains a puzzle. Will LVG opt for Carrick and Ander Herrera or will he give Marouane Fellaini the nod again, after the Belgian impressed against Chelsea and Manchester City?

Things are rather more straightforward up-front. Robin Van Persie will be booed and, on current form, he’s unlikely to score. Wayne Rooney will also be booed but, on current form, he’s more likely to hit the target.

ARSENAL TEAM NEWS

Mikel Arteta and Olivier Giroud have both been passed fit for Saturday and the latter in particular is a surprise inclusion in the matchday squad, given he was expected to be out until next month. Don’t expect the Frenchman to start, however, for Arsene Wenger has claimed that Giroud is still not fully fit.

Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny, David Ospina and Mathieu Debuchy are all out.

KEY MEN

With players dropping injured left, right and centre, whoever manages to stay be fit enough to play is likely to be a pivotal figure for United. Angel Di Maria looks to have lost some of the spark he showed early in the season but Arsenal’s back four is almost as suspicious as United’s and the Gunners’ knack for committing men forward could present the Argentine with spaces to exploit.

Wayne Rooney has been in great form for England and normally plays well against Arsenal, therefore expect him to be a marked man, while whoever gets the nod in midfield will an important role as United must starve Arsenal of possession and disrupt their rhythm.

As far as Arsenal are concerned, there are two mens to keep an eye on. Alexis Sanchez has been in scintillating form for the Gunners, scoring eight goals in his last eight games in all competitions and with United’s back four boasting all the solidity of a chocolate bar that’s been left in the sun too long, keeping the Chilean quiet could prove almost impossible.

Danny Welbeck, meanwhile, meets his former club for the first time since moving down south on transfer deadline day and provides an almost inescapable bit of narrative to the match. Welbeck has scored five times in 12 appearances for the Gunners, therefore expect him to bag a brace tomorrow.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

Even under David Moyes united were able to keep Arsenal at bay last season, beating the Gunners 1-0 at home in November and drawing 0-0 at the Emirates.

United haven’t lost against Arsenal since May 2011, which was also the last time they lost at the Emirates.

PREDICTED LINE-UP

Screenshot 2014-11-21 09.53.01

Dan