Manchester United vs. Arsenal: 10 Bold Predictions for Sunday's Game

Vijay MuraliAnalyst IAugust 25, 2011

Manchester United vs. Arsenal: 10 Bold Predictions for Sunday's Game

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    Arsenal advanced to the Champions League group stages through a rather nervy win against Udinese, in which they conceded a goal in the first half to the Italian side. However, goals from Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott helped the Gunners to win the tie and it was extremely important that they did win the game, considering that it will be a huge boost to their confidence and they could attract players through the lure of playing Champions League football with the Gunners.

    Arsenal have only secured one point from a possible six as they go into the third game of the league season against Manchester United, who have started the season confidently winning both games so far. United have one of the most settled teams in Europe and it is possible that Sir Alex Ferguson may opt not to buy anyone in the remainder of the transfer window considering that he has a strong team this season.

    There exists a huge rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United and though it is still early in the season, both teams will be eager to gain the maximum three points, which will also be a psychological advantage going into the season.

    It will be an interesting game between two of the biggest sides in England, and here are 10 bold predictions regarding the big game between the Red Devils and the Gunners.

1. Wayne Rooney to Be Utilized as the Lone Striker

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    Wayne Rooney did not have the best season in 2010-11 but if this preseason is any indication of how he is going to perform this season, it does seem that he has the desire to finish as the top scorer in the Premiership this season.

    Javier Hernandez has also emerged as a key player for United last season but the Mexico international might have to spend more time on the bench if Ferguson decides to go for the single-striker formation.

    Danny Welbeck can also consider himself to be unfortunate if he does miss out, considering he had a superb game against Tottenham.

    However, Ferguson is a manager who looks to win games against all opposition, and if it does means dropping someone, he would be bold enough to do so. His instincts have served him well for a very long time.

2. Robin van Persie to Score for the Gunners

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    Robin van Persie has a huge season ahead of him, as the newly appointed Arsenal captain needs to inspire his teammates to overcome the departures of important players like Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

    The Dutch international shares an excellent camaraderie with the fans and understands that he will have to step up in order to achieve success with the club. Van Persie scored the crucial equalizer against Udinese that helped the Gunners progress to the Champions League group stages.

    Van Persie was in sensational form in the second half of the 2010-11 season, when he scored 18 league goals. The Dutch international is clearly one of the best strikers in the world, and with Dutchman in good confidence after his recent goal, he could follow it up with one at Old Trafford.

3. Ashley Young to Score for Manchester United

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    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson made three excellent signings this season in David de Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, and though Jones and de Gea were still expected to take time to adjust to the team, Young was targeted as one who could most improve the quality of the team.

    Young has been impressive in the two games that he has played for Manchester United and he could start against Arsenal in what will be an important fixture for both sides.

    Young was an excellent signing for United considering that he is a player of the highest quality and will bring with him a number of goals and assists. The former Aston Villa winger had previously played with Rooney and some others in the England team and has adjusted well to United's style of play.

    Young has the capability to score some useful goals just when the team needs it and he could be the one to score for United against the Gunners. 

4. Phil Jones to Play in Midfield Against Arsenal

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    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has often employed a five-man midfield against the Gunners due to their possession style of play, which would make it an interesting contest since United are excellent on the counterattack. With Darren Fletcher being short of fitness, he could employ the impressive Phil Jones alongside Michael Carrick to break up the play.

    Jones is quite versatile and is comfortable on the ball as he showed on many occasions for Blackburn. The defensive midfield role is one of the most important positions in the team but Sir Alex could trust the young Englishman to do the job in midfield especially if Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand does return for the clash.

    Jones has the quality to be a top-class player in the future if he continues to develop under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson. He provides immense quality depth to the team in more than one position.  

5. David de Gea to Have an Excellent Game Against the Gunners

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    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson spent big money to acquire Spanish keeper David de Gea from Atletico Madrid and though the 20-year-old has shown glimpses of his talent, he has already made some mistakes though it has not cost United any points. De Gea was easily beaten by the long-range shot by Edin Dzeko in the Community Shield game, and against West Brom he should have also saved Shane Long's shot for which he reacted late.

    Although there have been many harsh judgements passed on his quality, de Gea is a player who has superb reflexes and is regarded as one of the best young goalkeepers in the world.

    Goalkeepers do not perform well when they are short of confidence, and for the Spaniard, he has to adjust to the rigors of the Premiership. However, it is only a matter of time before he produces his best for the Red Devils. He could have an excellent game against the Gunners.

6. Andrei Arshavin to Be Arsenal's Most Creative Player Against Red Devils

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    Andrei Arshavin is one of the most creative players for the Gunners, but bad form and fitness has meant that he is short of confidence. He also lost his place in the starting XI. However, despite having a poor season by his high standards, he managed to score 10 goals and 17 assists last season.

    If he can be at his best, there is every chance he could be the man to create things for the Gunners.

    Arshavin has scored in several important games for the Gunners against Liverpool, Manchester United and FC Barcelona and could strike again against United, which will be an extremely tough game for the Gunners. Arshavin is a player who could provide excellent service for Robin van Persie and if he does provide the opportunities for the Gunners, then there is every chance that they could win all three points.

    It is likely that the Russian midfielder will start the game due to the suspension of Gervinho. He will look to have a good game in the hopes of winning a place in the starting lineup. 

7. Red Card and Penalty to Be Awarded in the Game

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    Manchester United and Arsenal have been involved in plenty of heated games and despite the Gunners not in a great position going into the game, there is absolutely no doubt that they will be fighting hard to win against their rivals. Last season, Rooney's penalty miss was the subject of controversy simply on the awarding of the penalty.

    The Gunners have already had two players sent off in successive games but in a game of this magnitude, there is every possibility that someone might make a rash challenge that could result in a sending off. There have been a number of penalties that have been awarded in this fixture due to the boisterous home support and United do have the advantage going into the game.

8. At Least One New Signing for the Gunners Before the United Game

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    Arsenal have been linked with a number of players in the summer but apart from Gervinho, the other players who they have signed are teenagers with extremely less experience.

    For example, 19-year-old Carl Jenkinson was playing for Charlton Athletic last season, and this season he started in one of Arsenal's most important games of the last decade and helped them achieve victory by putting in a solid performance at right back.

    With Laurent Koscielny sustaining a injury and Thomas Vermaelen also possibly carrying a knock from the Udinese game, the Arsenal squad could be stretched. Wenger could possibly bring in a player before the game against United and if it is a defender, he will be vital for the Gunners. 

9. Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger to Respect Each Other Throughout the Game

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    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson are two of the longest-serving managers in the game and have had plenty to say about each other in the last decade.

    However, despite both managers making controversial statements in the past, they both have immense respect to the achievements of the other and have a healthy rivalry. There have been a number of heated games between Arsenal and Manchester United and this one could also turn out to be that way.

    Whatever happens on the pitch between the two teams, it is unlikely that either manager will have a dig at the other, considering that they do respect each other. It can be expected that they will both shake hands at the end of the game and that the match will be treated the right way by the managers. 

10. The Game to End in a Draw

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    Manchester United and Arsenal are two of the biggest teams in Europe and they share a healthy rivalry, having several quality games played between them. When the two teams take their places on the pitch, both sets of players will only be interested in a victory and both managers will look to outwit the other in tactics. Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are two of the longest serving managers in the game and it promises to be an exciting encounter between the two teams.

    Though both teams will look for the three points on offer, it could turn out to be a draw, which is not a bad result to either team, especially Arsenal who have lost some important players like Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

    The Gunners still have high-quality players like Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen but will need to be at their best to get a good result. United have a very strong team and will look to beat the Gunners and gain all three points from the encounter, but with both teams capable of quality attacking football, a scoring draw could be a likely result.