According to Wayne Rooney, it’s too soon to consider Arsenal favourites to win the Premier League this season and the United striker has played down the Gunners’ threat ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Old Trafford.
After losing at home to Aston Villa on the opening day of the season, Arsenal have gone to register eight wins and a draw in the next nine games and currently sit at the top of the table, five points clear of second-placed Chelsea, but Rooney insists it’s too soon to draw conclusions.
“We’ll have to wait and see where Arsenal are in March,” said Rooney. “We’ve seen before that they’ve been in the top two until February or March and then faded away. They are doing brilliantly at the minute, so it’s down to them to try and stay there and us to catch them.”
One of the main critic that’s been directed towards Arsenal over the last couple of months is that they’ve simply made the most of a relatively easy run of fixtures in the Premier League and that they weren’t equipped to survive sterner tests, a logic that was reinforced by the Gunners’ back-to-back defeat on home turf against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and Chelsea in the Capital One Cup.
However, Arsene Wenger’s men have since beaten Liverpool on Saturday and recorded a surprise win in Dortmund last night, meaning they’ll arrive at Old Trafford with their confidence sky-high.
Rooney scored his first Premier League goal for United when the Reds brought Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run to an end in 2005 and the United striker is confident the Reds can do the job again.
“We’re obviously capable of beating Arsenal,” said Rooney. “We’ve done it many times in the past. They’re on a good run of form at the moment and they’re top of the league, so we know it’s going to be a difficult game.
“But we have to go into it with confidence and a belief this is when we can edge closer to them and bring us back into the mix of being at the top of the league.”
Despite collecting only a point from their three games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City, United are only three points away from second place and Rooney believes United must make the most of what’s so far been a very strange season, where some of the favourites have already dropped points in more than one occasion.
“When you know one of your rivals’ results before the game – especially if they’ve been beaten – it’s great to feel you can edge closer,” continued the 27-year-old. “We know we’re capable of playing better and we’re trying to do that. It’s up to us to keep trying to pick up points and then, come Christmas, see where we are.”
“We had a whole new setup and different ideas from the manager,” he said. “It was up to us to try and implement them. It was a bit of a change but we’re starting to show the things that the manager wants.
“There are only nine or 10 games gone so there’s no big worry at the moment. We’re starting to do well. We’re confident at the minute, we’re getting more clean sheets and playing with freedom. If we can get the victory on Sunday then we’re in a great position.”
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