Manchester United vs. Arsenal: Match Marks Chance for Gunners to Make Statement

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Manchester United vs. Arsenal: Match Marks Chance for Gunners to Make Statement
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Saturday's match against Manchester United at Old Trafford means more for Arsenal than avenging Robin Van Persie's departure in the summer.

It's also about Arsene Wenger proving that he made the right moves in the summer, in spite of Van Persie's departure.

Friday's report by Goal.com highlighted Van Persie's insistence that Wenger bring aboard some big-name players to ensure that the 29-year-old would stay.

Wenger had already tried that approach after the 8-2 embarrassment to United on August 28, 2011, with mixed results. He ultimately decided to go back to his roots and do it the "Arsenal Way," or build a team with depth while developing the young players through the ranks. 

That obviously didn't sit well with Van Persie, and now he is basically Arsenal's sworn enemy.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

United decided to take on a high-priced player in Van Persie this summer, while Wenger stuck to his guns. Now, more than ever this season, Wenger is in the spotlight.

Arsenal has gone 4-2-3 this season, accumulating 15 points and finding itself in sixth place in the Premier League. The back-to-back losses to Norwich City and Schalke certainly hurt.

United, on the other hand, has gone 7-2-0, only behind first-place Chelsea in the league. Van Persie has seven of its 24 goals this season, including three assists.

There's no doubt that United has looked better this season, and perhaps will for a while as Wenger's club continues to develop, but the return of midfielder Jack Wilshere from injury last week in the 1-0 victory over QPR gives the Gunners hope on Saturday.

One thing's for sure: If Van Persie accounts for a goal or two against Arsenal, it will surely feel like a punch in the gut for the Gunners. That includes Wenger, who wouldn't dismiss his philosophy for one player in the summer, no matter how dynamic that player is.

 

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