Football Expert & Columnist
Attack, attack, attack
Expect goals, but not three points for either Arsenal or Man Utd on Sunday, says Jamie Redknapp.
Last Updated: 24/02/12 9:37am
The last time Arsenal and Manchester United met there were 10 goals. There's no way we'll see a repeat of that, but it's another game where I expect the attacks to come out on top, even if the stats suggest that won't be the case.
Arsenal's record at the Emirates this season is excellent. Their only defeat came against Liverpool early on and they've conceded just six goals in total.
United, meanwhile, have scored 19 goals on the road compared to the 33 they've got at Old Trafford, so there's an argument to say that this could finish 1-0 to either team, but I just can't see that happening.
Both defences are missing key men and neither has looked rock solid in recent weeks. The Arsenal back four did not look comfortable at all at Swansea, but I have a certain amount of sympathy for Arsene Wenger.
Thomas Vermaelen has been a huge loss for them at centre-back and they've really struggled with the amount of injuries they've had in both full-back positions. They've had to fill the gaps by playing centre-backs in those positions like Ignasi Miquel and Johan Djourou, which isn't ideal.
But it's still no excuse for how poorly they've been defending, especially away from home. Liverpool won four trophies back in 2001, including the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup, playing with four centre-backs.
Jamie Carragher and Markus Babbel played left and right-back respectively that season, so I can understand if Djourou and Miquel were a bit lacking going forward, but they certainly should be defending better.
And when you're a team like Arsenal and you've conceded more goals away from home than any other team, well that tells you everything you need to know.
There's a chance that Vermaelen will be back for Sunday, which will be a huge boost. The only question is will Arsene Wenger play him at left-back or at centre-back?
There's obviously an argument for both, but personally I'd stick him back at centre-back in place of Per Mertesacker.
Arsenal look a different team when Vermaelen's at the heart of defence, while Mertesacker has really struggled to find his feet in the Premier League. He looks really uncomfortable and his movement just doesn't look right to me.
The problem Arsene Wenger has is that Miquel has struggled as well. He's a young lad and I hope he turns into a good player, but at the moment he looks a bit lightweight. Premier League football is hard enough when you're playing in natural position, but he's overexposed at the moment and I'm sure Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking at that.
As far back as I can remember United have always played with wingers who stretch the pitch and attack the oppositions full-backs and I'm sure he will have looked at Djourou and Miquel and thought that's where he can hurt them.
Whoever plays in the wide areas - whether it's Nani, Antonio Valencia or Ji-Sung Park - will be too powerful for them. And it's not just United's wide men that will cause you problems; it's their full-backs too.
I can see this being a high scoring game for both teams though. United really miss Nemanja Vidic and with Robin van Persie in the kind of form he's in, I can see Arsenal scoring as well.
The early kick-off between Manchester City and Tottenham could be a factor too, because if City win, that will put a little bit of extra pressure on United.
I've played in situations like this before when you know what the result from an earlier game is and, whether it's consciously or sub-consciously, it does affect you.
If City get three points United will come out all guns blazing because they won't want that that gap at the top to increase.
It should be a cracking game either way though and if I was putting money on it I'd go for a score draw. Right now, I think both managers would take that.
As for the earlier kick-off, if Tottenham think they can win the league then they have to go to the Etihad Stadium and come away with a point. It's a tough ask because City have won 10 out of 10 there this season, but it's great time to be playing them.
The loss of Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure is massive. Within any team, no matter how good they are, there are a couple of key men who are irreplaceable and Kompany and Toure are those men for City.
That said, they grounded out a result against Wigan and were unlucky against United in the FA Cup. So it's still going to be really difficult for Tottenham, especially without Emmanuel Adebayor.
There's no doubt that Roberto Mancini and City are still in the box seat and you'd rather be in their position than any of those around them, even United with all their experience.
But wins for both Spurs and United this weekend could see a real swing in the title race.