Manchester United v Arsenal preview
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp. Last Updated: 05/11/12 2:58pm
Robin van Persie: Manchester United striker up against his former club
Robin van Persie takes centre stage on Saturday as the former Arsenal captain comes up against his old employers for the first time in a Manchester United shirt.
The Holland international, who spent seven years with the Gunners before departing in a £24million deal this summer, has made an immediate impact at Old Trafford.
Van Persie already has seven goals to his name from just nine Premier League outings to demonstrate why Sir Alex Ferguson was so delighted to land his signature despite competition from Manchester City, while he has won more points (nine) for his team with his goals than any other Premier League player this season.
The striker's priceless ability to turn a game to his team's advantage will be sorely missed by the supporters who once idolised him, and even though Arsene Wenger has called for respect from the visiting fans on Saturday, the vitriol is likely to pour down from the away section.
Arsenal also need to banish the demons of last season's Premier League visit to Old Trafford, when they suffered an 8-2 humiliation in what ranks as one of Wenger's darkest days in a distinguished career.
The North London club are currently six points adrift of United in the standings and while it would be foolish to write off their title ambitions in November, a nine-point gap would be a significant deficit to bridge.
Victory for Ferguson's men, meanwhile, would put them top of the standings for the first time this season as Chelsea - who were beaten 3-2 by the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge last weekend - are not in action until later in the day when they travel to Swansea.
Manchester United have no fresh injuries following their two dramatic matches against Chelsea over the past week.
Defender Chris Smalling continues to make good progress in training in his recovery from a broken metatarsal, but the game at Old Trafford will come too soon.
Fellow centre-back Phil Jones (knee) is also not quite ready, while another defender, Nemanja Vidic (knee), and midfielder Shinji Kagawa (knee) remain sidelined.
Sir Alex Ferguson made a host of changes for the midweek defeat and will bring back his big guns for the Premier League encounter.
Arsenal will revert to a more recognised team after changing their entire starting XI for the astonishing midweek Capital One Cup success at Reading.
England midfielder Jack Wilshere and full-back Bacary Sagna are in contention, but forward Theo Walcott - whose hat-trick helped the Gunners comeback from 4-0 down to win 7-5 - may be back on the bench after playing all 120 minutes at the Madejski Stadium.
Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip) faces a fitness test, but winger Gervinho (ankle) will be out for around three weeks, while defender Kieran Gibbs (thigh), first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (ankle), midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) and Czech winger Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) all continue their rehabilitation.
Previous game's starting line-ups
- 13 Lindegaard
- 12 Smalling
- 4 Jones
- 6 Evans
- 25 Valencia A
- 24 Fletcher
- 21 Herrera
- 18 Young
- 8 Mata
- 10 Rooney
- 19 Welbeck
Team taken from Manchester United vs Inter Milan (Friendly Match) on Wednesday 30th July 2014
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