Manchester United versus Arsenal, and neither side can win the title. Those are words that have not applied to this fixture too many times over the last twenty years. Not that this match is insignificant at all. The runners-up spot in the League will almost certainly be Manchester City’s if they can beat Swansea away tomorrow, and Southampton at home next Sunday. Should they falter then Arsenal are likeliest to overhaul them.
Then there is a separate battle to avoid fourth place in the table, and a Champions League qualifier in August. Victory at Old Trafford would cement at least third place for Arsenal and condemn United to that play-off. Even were the home team to triumph then Arsenal could keep them in the last qualifying place in our final two home games against Sunderland and West Brom.
This is the pointed end of the season, and the FA Cup Finalists will be looking to regain form and confidence quickly after Monday night’s surprise reverse at home to Swansea. We looked at the injury list on Thursday, and we still have a very strong squad to pick from, but after fielding an unchanged starting line-up for five consecutive Premier League fixtures the boss hinted at some changes.
“We have three games to finish the season and it’s important that everybody contributes until the end. It’s important that at some stage you freshen up.”
Freshening up could take many forms. Caution could mean that those who have not put in a full week at Shenley, Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck, getting a rest until Sunderland visit the Grove on Wednesday. Theo Walcott has been clicking his heels on the bench lately and could replace Aaron on the right. Jack Wilshere and Gabriel may also come into the picture. I hope the full-back positions are not tinkered with.
For the hosts Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, and Luke Shaw will not feature, and defender Jonny Evans is a doubt, but Angel Di Maria, Robin van Stapleton and Marcos Rojo are available again. One would assume that van Stapleton and Falcao will be the candidates to replace Rooney, with Jones coming in for Shaw as the only changes from the United side that won at Crystal Palace last week. That result was perhaps made all the more impressive by Palace’s 1-3 win at Anfield this weekend?
The ‘holic pound
Dat guy scores at Old Trafford
Now we did win an FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford 1-2 just ten short weeks ago, but our rare-of-late recent League triumphs on United soil have been by that famous ‘one-nil to the Arsenal’ margin, and that is the choice for the destination of the ‘holic pound. The market is surprisingly generous about this outcome, Paddy Power for example offering nines against it coming to fruition. That suggests my confidence could be misplaced. We’ll see.
As usual I look forward to hearing the traveling faithful loud and clear on the match broadcast, and I wish you all a wonderful day/weekend out in the north-west. As for the rest of us let’s hope for a good signal, and three crucial points to ensure that Champions League group phase place.
Have a great one, ‘holics.