Two elite Premier League clubs meet at Emirates Stadium as Arsenal host Manchester United on Sunday, with the result of their last meeting still fresh in both clubs' memories.
Back on Aug. 28, Manchester United gave injury-plauged Arsenal a historic thumping, 8-2, at Old Trafford, and it would be almost impossible for either club to forget the carnage. The Red Devils scored five times in the final half-hour, and the normally reliable Robin van Persie made a mess out of first-half penalty kick for an overall dreadful day for the Gunners.
Once again, Arsene Wenger will be without several key players for a match against Manchester United. Arteta has been ruled out with a calf injury, while Thierry Henry and Thomas Vermaelen are also nursing calf injuries, though their status this weekend is unclear.
According to Wenger, full backs Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, and Bacary Sagna should be sidelined for two-to-three weeks, while Andre Santos is expected to be out of action for two more months. Defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin might be available for the home match against Aston Villa on Jan. 29, while midfielder Abou Diaby is set to return to training next week.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has not played a minute this season, is back to running, but isn't close to a return.
Despite the long-term absentees, Sir Alex Ferguson will have a generally fit squad. Rio Ferdinand will be tested to see if he's fit following a concussion. Jones and Anderson are expected to be available after suffering knocks.
Manchester United will be aware that their hosts have revenge on their mind this weekend.
Arsenal should attack with Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott looking for van Persie. The Dutch forward, who has 18 goals in 21 league appearances this season, has been very consistent, and the United centre backs will need to pay extra focus on containing him.
While the Gunners offer a strong central attack, Manchester United should exploit Arsenal's full backs. Expect winger Nani and Valencia to play a pivotal role this weekend, as reserves Miquel and Johan Djourou should start the match.
Arsenal have only two home losses in all competitions this season. The first loss was to Liverpool in the home opener, and the other loss was a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Carling Cup quarter-finals.
Manchester United have only one road loss this season.
In the last meeting between the two clubs on May 1, 2011, Arsenal defeated Manchester United on Ramsey's second-half goal, 1-0.
D: Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Djourou
M: Song, Rosicky, Ramsey
F: Walcott, Van Persie, Oxlade-Chamberlain
D: Smalling, Evans, Jones, Evra
M: Giggs, Carrick, Nani, Valencia
F: Rooney, Welbeck