Under different circumstances, this would have made an excellent ‘match of the season’, but the truth is Arsenal are only fighting to win a Champions League ticket, while Manchester United have already been crowned champions, and besides a Premier League points record that might not matter to them too much, there’s nothing left to play for.
Some think Manchester United might opt to play in some experimental lineup – the important things are the trophies that lie ahead, only next season promising that kind of fortune, while setting new records for points in a Premier League season might not be that important to the players and the manager. And yet, Ferguson has promised his fellow managers his team will keep up professional appearances and give it their all in the final days of the season.
The match means more to Arsenal, because of the Champions League ticket they can’t afford to miss out on, but also because of the Robin van Persie factor, making his first return to the Emirates after “defecting” for greater honors and a better team last summer. Arsenal haven’t really found a striker to match his quality and goal scoring despite his sale money being spent on Olivir Giroud and Lukas Podolski.
The German hasn’t played in a central role all season and seems to be an afterthought when it comes to game planning, while the Frenchman won’t be available due to a red card. That leaves the option of Theo Walcott as the target man, although Wenger hasn’t been inclined to use him that way despite his decent scoring rate at the position when given the chance.
Arsenal last beat United on May 1, 2011, with an Aaron Ramsey goal giving the gunners a 1-0 win. Since then it’s been two 2-1 wins for United, who often strike strong and early before letting Arsenal pass the time with their ineffective passing game, not creating too many chances against a comfortable, organized defense.
Predictions – Ferguson loves sticking it to his rivals, and despite the “lack of motivational reasons” we’ll see the same United we’ve seen in the past few weeks. Not at their best, but not about to give up three points meekly. Van Persie himself, in quite excellent form again, has plenty of reasons to bring out his best. Feels like a draw.