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Nov 22, 2014

Network Front | The Guardian: Arsenal v Manchester United: Premier League – live!

Network Front | The Guardian
Latest news, sport, business, comment, analysis and reviews from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice 
Arsenal v Manchester United: Premier League – live!
Nov 22nd 2014, 16:40, by Barry Glendenning

Team news: I'll bring you the full ine-ups, with substitutes just as soon as they appear on the wires. It looks like Louis van Gaal; is playing a 3-52 with Paddy McNair, Chris Smalling and Tyler Blackett at the back, with Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw playing as wing-backs. Among the Arsenal ranks, Theo Walcott hasn't made the bench, but Mikel Arteta is fit to start and does so ahead of Mathieu Flamini.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Ramsey, Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Welbeck, Sanchez #AFC #MUFC

#MUFC: De Gea, Valencia, McNair, Smalling, Blackett, Shaw, Carrick, Fellain, Rooney, Van Persie, Di Maria. #AFC

Premier League: What looks like another merciless, cold blooded assassination-in-progress by Chelsea, this time of West Brom will put them 15 points ahead of Arsenal and 16 clear of Manchester United after just 12 games. That's a lot of points by any standards, not least considering we're still in November.

News on Arsenal's lame and halt: The Gooners have injury concerns of their own, with Arsene Wenger having suggested Alexis Sanchez looked tired before he went off on international duty with Chile and returned looking like he could do with a night in front of the telly with his feet up watching Pointless Celebrities and Strictly Come Dancing, rather than spend it gadding about the Emirates. He can't not start him. Can he?

Elsewhere in the Arsenal ranks, Theo Walcott (groin) is a major doubt, while Danny Welbeck (hamstring) will also need a late check but looks likely to play. He'll have bumped into long-term physio room occupants Laurent Koscielny (calf/shin), Mesut Ozil (knee), Mathieu Debuchy (ankle) and David Ospina (hip) while getting his rub yesterday.

News on Manchester United's lame and the halt: The international break was rather unkind to Manchester United, who lost their excellent Dutch defender Daley Blind to a knee injury that will keep him out until January at the earliest. England full-back Luke Shaw (hamstring) is also a doubt, while Michael Carrick (groin) may also join Blind on a lengthy injury list that includes - deep breath - Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Rafael, Jesse Lingard and Radamel Falcao. In some good news for United fans, Louis van Gaal has stated that he expects goalkeeper David De Gea and Angel Di Maria to be fit, while both Shaw and Carrick trained yesterday.

Guardian tactics expert Michael Cox was set the interesting task of figuring out which of Manchester United and Arsenal are weaker at the back. You can read his findings by clicking on the link, but in a nutshell, he concludes they're both a bit bobbins. Arsenal are seriously missing the pace Laurent Koscielny brings to his central defensive partnership with Per Mertesacker, while Manchester United are missing leadership and in a constantly changing back four (née three).

Good evening everybody. It's a tough one to call this, what with two fierce rivals, both teetering on the brink of "crisis", going head to head at the Emirates. Defeat for either side will leave their fans seething, although one gets the impression that already fuming Gooners may have to cut an extra couple of amps-on-11 Spinal Tap style notches in their rage-o-meters if their team capitulates against injury-ravaged United.

With the strength of both teams quite obviously lying in attack, stoutness of defence is likely to be key today. Both sides have more than enough firepower to punish the kind of ill-disciplined and kamikaze defending that has been the hallmark of many of Manchester United and Arsenal's poorer performances this season. Alternatively, they could just go hell-for-leather and treat us to a massively entertaining 9-9 draw.

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