With an impressive—albeit extremely drama-ridden—victory against Chelsea last week that moved the Red Devils up to second in the table (just one point behind the London Blues, who, despite the defeat, still lead the way), this is the perfect chance for United to continue their current great run of form in the league.
Since the shock 3-2 upset against Tottenham Hotspur in early October, the tablecloth army have managed to go on and win every game they have played in the Barclays Premier League since that defeat.
In theory a game against one of the other sides genuinely chasing the Premier League crown, whether at home or away, should never really be considered “easy” for any side—even for a fellow title contender. But with the recent record that the Gunners have exhibited at Old Trafford and their somewhat lacklustre start to the campaign, this is the ultimate opportunity for United to kick their title hunt into overdrive.
With the important win at Stamford Bridge last week closing the gap on Chelsea, combined with the recent run of good form that the Red Devils have been experiencing, a solid victory against Arsene Wenger’s boys could give the team that extra smidgen of confidence to keep them undefeated domestically from now until Christmas.
Of course nobody is expecting the 8-2 wonder-show that this exact same fixture churned out last year. But a decent victory by a two- or possibly even three-goal margin for the Lancastrian side could result in a brilliant streak of form for the rest of 2012.
It goes without saying that a good run at this stage of the year does not guarantee you anything in this country, but it does crucially put you in a position of dominance over the rest of the division—something that United are known for usually thriving upon.
United fans should not kid themselves, however. Yes, if the form books and team sheets are anything to go by, then the Red Devils should realistically run out winners on the day. But then this is football.
And that’s without taking into account the defensive frailties that continue to plague the United back four this season.
It has been well documented that England’s most successful side has had more than their fair share of problems at the back since the season began. In fact, so far United have shipped a whopping 13 goals in just nine league games—only Fulham have conceded more out of teams in the top half of the table, letting past 14.
In stark contrast, United’s opponents this weekend have conceded less than any other side in the country, allowing only six goals.
But it’s at the other end of the team sheet that most fans will be focusing on Saturday. The stats are almost completely reversed, with United having scored the most goals this season (24) in the Premier League and Arsenal netting just 14 (six of which came against Southampton).
This is in no small part due to the man of the moment, Robin van Persie.
Since leaving the Gunners the goals have very much dried up for the London side, whilst United have been experiencing free-flowing goal scoring (something they so crucially lacked in periods last season) with the Dutchman up front.
This weekend will be the first time that the former Arsenal man has had to face his old club, and no doubt tensions will be running high both on the sidelines and in the stands.
If RVP plays as well as he has done so far in a United shirt, then we could be looking at yet another victory for Fergie over Wenger and co.
This is the time for United to go on and grab the proverbial bull by its horns. If they can put in a good performance and walk away with all three points, then the confidence will be at an all-time high.
Back-to-back victories against London’s best two sides isn’t something that most teams will be achieving this season—or any other for that matter.
If United walk away with the points, then I pity Aston Villa come November 10. But first they have to go and get that result!