Arsenal visit Manchester United this weekend (Sunday) in the Premier League’s greatest rivalry that is known to surely evoke plenty of remarkable memories for supporters, despite the current sense of glumness around Old Trafford.
Manchester United go into the match after seeing off FC Midtjylland in the Europa League on Thursday, following a 5-1 win that saw manager Louis van Gaal admit the meeting the Gunners would present a step up in the quality from the Midtjylland.
United will be fighting for a win to move back to the fifth position on the Premier League table.
For Arsenal, the match proves a vital title challenge and manager Arsene Wenger insisted that his current squad is strong enough to make a difference from the previous teams that have buckled in the title challenge the previous years.
A win on Sunday will see the Gunners stay on the Premier League title race after Leicester City recorded a win on Saturday against Norwich City.
Speaking ahead of the Premier League clash against the Red Devils, Wenger said: It is the key period. We work the whole season for this period and that’s where you’re really tested but it’s where you have an opportunity to show quality, nerves and desire as well.
“Everybody drops points. It is unpredictable. We have rebuilt a good run in the Premier League and we need to continue that.
“We need to get over the disappointment of the result [against Barcelona] in the Premier League.”
Louis van Gaal’s side are winless in their last five games against London opposition, drawing the last four, and victory would see the Old Trafford outfit become the first team to win 50 top-flight home games against Arsenal.
Speaking ahead of the match against the Gunners, Van Gaal said: “I shall never use youth for myself, only to improve the team. I have a philosophy that I don’t want big squads because then you cannot give youngsters a chance.
“Now because of that you see a lot of youngsters who can show their quality, and you can also win. But it’s a big risk. Manchester United also want to give youngsters a chance. It is in the culture of Manchester United.
“We are doing that but we have had a lot of bad luck. It is not normal that you have 14 injured players.”
Manchester United may miss the services of Anthony Martial, who missed Thursday’s win against Midtjylland with a tight hamstring.
David de Gea is likely to be welcomed back following a minor knee injury.
It remains to be seen whether two other recent addition to United’s lengthy injury list, defenders Chris Smalling (shoulder) and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (unspecified), are able to make their comebacks, while the likes of Antonio Valencia (foot) and Adnan Januzaj (hamstring) are nearing readiness.
Arsenal, meanwhile, will be without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who injured his knee against Barcelona.
The north London club is likely to have the services of Gabriel, who is nearing a return from a hamstring problem.
Arsenal(4-2-3-1): Cech, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Ramsey, Coquelin, Sanchez, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud.
Machester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Carrick, Blind, Varela, Riley, Schneiderlin, Herrera, Lingard, Mata, Depay, Rashford.