Yaya Sanogo is in contention for a place in the Arsenal squad for the first time in five months when Manchester United visit the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday. The summer signing from Auxerre has been absent with a back injury picked up while on international duty with France’s Under-21 side in September.
Sanogo’s return will provide a welcome extra alternative to Olivier Giroud up front, although it remains to be seen how much of an impact he will have this season. The 21-year-old had made just two substitute appearances before his injury.
Arsenal’s options are otherwise unchanged, heading into what has become a crucial match, following their 5-1 mauling at the hands of Liverpool on Saturday. Aaron Ramsey and loan signing Kim Kallstrom are still several weeks away from a return, while Thomas Vermaelen remains sidelined with a calf injury. Mathieu Flamini is also out as he completes his three-match suspension.
It is a similar story for Manchester United. Marouane Fellaini has a groin problem that has delayed his return from wrist surgery, while Phil Jones and Jonny Evans are still recovering from calf injuries. It is likely to mean a continuation of the partnership of Chris Smalling and Nemanja Vidic in the center of defense, although Rio Ferdinand remains an option. A tabloid article claimed on Tuesday that Ferdinand was set to be left out of United’s warm-weather training camp in Dubai following the Arsenal match and that the player would retire at the end of the campaign. But Moyes has vehemently denied the report.
"I can only tell you that what was written today was a load of rubbish, complete nonsense,” he told reports, according to Manchester United’s official website. "We've got a chance of a few days away. We'll see. We'll go and try to have a few days away and get ready. We've got a big Champions League game coming up in just over a week's time."
Moyes is likely to opt for the attacking trio of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata for the third match in succession. There is also a possibility that for the first time they will be joined from the start by Adnan Januzaj. However, given they are away from home and with Moyes’s conservative tendencies, the more defensively reliable Ashley Young may again be preferred. Tom Cleverley could return from a knock to replace Darren Fletcher and line up alongside Michael Carrick in midfield.
For Arsenal, Tomas Rosicky could well come back into the starting lineup, likely in place of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Jack Wilshere, who are both still making their way back from injuries. Elsewhere, Nacho Monreal may be replaced by Kieran Gibbs after the Spaniard struggled against Liverpool.
Arsenal head into the match a point behind Chelsea at the top of the Premier League and badly in need of a reaction following events at Anfield. The big matches come thick and fast for Arsene Wenger’s men, with Liverpool again providing the opposition on Sunday in the FA Cup, before the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich.
United also require a strong response after their own weekend disappointment. A 2-2 draw at home to the Premier League’s bottom club Fulham leaves Moyes’s side nine points away from a top-four berth and a qualifying place for the Champions League.
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
M: Arteta, Wilshere
Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla
G: De Gea
D: Rafael, Smalling, Vidic, Evra
M: Carrick, Cleverley
Mata, Rooney, Young
F: Van Persie
Update (2/12 10:55 a.m.): Manchester United manager David Moyes has said that both Phil Jones and Marouane Fellaini are "in with a chance" of being fit to face Arsenal.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.