With Sir Alex Ferguson retired from his post as manager of Manchester United, the rivalry between Arsenal and the Red Devils is just not the same.
Arsene Wenger is still in place for Arsenal, but he's now pitting his wits against David Moyes. Early results from Old Trafford suggest that is not a fair fight.
The Red Devils, the defending league champs, sit in seventh in the EPL table. To be fair to Moyes, his club doesn't have the talent to suggest this team is capable of defending its league crown.
Even in light of that, the Red Devils have underachieved. Fitness problems have contributed to that, but the Red Devils have had both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie on the pitch together for recent contests. On top of that, Juan Mata was added to the fold after a transfer from Chelsea.
Still, the Red Devils have gone just 1-1-1 in their last three league games and that has come against Cardiff City, Stoke City and Fulham.
Now Moyes and the Red Devils must travel to the Emirates to take on a feisty Arsenal squad. At least Arsenal better be feisty.
The Gunners were recently dispatched from the top of the Premier League table by Chelsea. That occurred after the Gunners were embarrassed, 5-1, by Liverpool.
Mikel Arteta, via Andy Hunter of The Guardian, let fans in on Wenger's mood at half-time of that contest: "The manager was really upset at half-time, that's normal because it wasn't good enough for this football club. It was the angriest I have seen him."
Wenger is now looking for a better effort from his team. Here is the manager, as quoted by Sky Sports: "What is important is that we respond to that result, especially respond with a different performance because our performance overall was poor."
Here are the vitals for this contest as both managers attempt to get their squads on the winning track.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 12
Where: Emirates Stadium, London, 2:45 p.m. ET/7:45 p.m. GMT
TV: NBC Sports Network; BT Sport 1
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Odds (via Bovada)
Manchester United: +250
Key Storyline: Can RVP and Rooney learn to thrive together?
With the prodigious scoring talents of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, the Red Devils have the potential for a menacing front line. This has been slow to develop. The chemistry between the two has been stunted by fitness issues, but it goes beyond that.
To reap the full benefit of these two fabulous players, their has to be an effort made by each player to learn the other's style, tendencies and strengths.
Now, perhaps RVP and Rooney are working diligently on this task. I'm not in a position to comment on that. What I can say, however, is that there are no signs of that process on the pitch.
This tweet helps highlight that fact:
If these two are going to keep playing like complete strangers on the pitch, the Red Devils would be best served to let one of the two go.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United
Arsenal's midfield will dominate possession, and the Gunners' defense will atone for allowing five goals to Liverpool.
It helps that this match is at the Emirates. Arsenal have not allowed a single goal there since Dec. 8. That will be enough to keep the Red Devils' attack at bay and eventually create a few easy scoring chances for the home side.
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