MANCHESTER UTD vs ARSENAL
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger leads his side into a match that will have a huge bearing on their title ambitions tonight in the firm belief that winning the Premier League is tougher than ever.
The Gunners arrive at Old Trafford top of the table but battle-scarred from four defeats, three of them at home, already this season.
To some observers, it is evidence that standards at the top of the English game are slipping, but Wenger insists it merely proves how much those outside the top four have improved.
“I don’t agree with the people who say that the overall quality of the league is lower this season. In fact, you can say exactly the reverse,” he said. “Last Monday night, two quality teams – Aston Villa and Liverpool – met and both sides were in the bottom half, so that opinion is not really proven by concrete facts.
“The whole Premier League is more difficult for everybody and what you call mid-table teams and bottom-table teams have improved. Every single game today is a cup game for everybody.”
United’s own title aspirations ought to ensure this evening’s clash will be a fiercely contested one, while extra spice has been added to an already combustible rivalry by recent comments from Old Trafford left-back Patrice Evra, who taunted Arsenal over their five-year trophy drought last week.
Wenger (left) is set to make a late decision on whether to include captain Cesc Fabregas, who has been desperately fighting to recover from a persistent hamstring injury in time for the showdown. Defenders Johan Djourou and Gael Clichy are also doubts.
“We are top of the table at the moment, and at the start of the season if you had said we would lose four of our first 16 games, I would not have thought we would be top, that is for sure,” Wenger added.
“The positive thing is that if we manage to add home consistency to our away form, we will be very dangerous.”
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
31 Jan 10 Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd Prem
29 Aug 09 Man Utd 2-1 Arsenal Prem
16 May 09 Man Utd 0-0 Arsenal Prem
5 May 09 Arsenal 1-3 Man Utd Ch Lg
29 Apr 09 Man Utd 1-0 Arsenal Ch Lg