Alexis Sanchez scores as Arsenal thump Manchester United 3-0 back in October
Anthony Martial is a major doubt for Manchester United, who are already missing captain Wayne Rooney through injury. Martial picked up a hamstring injury in the warm up against FC Midtjylland in midweek and could well miss the clash against Arsenal. David De Gea is due to return in goal for the home side, having also missed the game through picking up an injury in the same warm up. United have only won two of the last six games at home.
Arsenal are looking to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat at the hands of reigning European Cup holders Barcelona. Arsene Wenger suggesting that his side only has a 5% chance of qualifying for the next round – so focus will turn to the league title and the FA Cup. The Gunners last picked up a league win at Old Trafford in the 2006/07 season, when Emmanuel Adebayor scored a late winner. The away side are without Alex Oxlade Chamberlain – who picked up a knee injury in the Champions League match against Barcelona. Wenger’s men have only won one of their last four away matches.
We are join by Arsenal fan and season ticket holder Mark Gilbert, who kindly answered some questions for us ahead oft he game today. We caught up over who was better out of Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, what was the best win at Old Trafford and can Leicester City actually go on to win the league! You can follow Mark on Twitter @gilberto82.
1. What have you made of the season so far and can Arsenal win their first league title since 2004?
Probably the most surprising in Premier League history. With the reigning champions Chelsea collapsing spectacularly & parting company with Jose Mourinho, as well as Leicester’s stunning ascent to the top of the table, it’s been a terrific season for neutral fans. Manchester United & Liverpool have both struggled in the league, Manchester City have been patchy & Tottenham look like they’ll take the title race to the wire, it’s been a brilliant campaign. Arsenal have impressed in flashes but the lack of a top class goalscorer has hampered them. Put Anthony Martial, Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane in the No9 position & the Gunners would be top by a distance right now. They’ll push Leicester. Man City & Spurs all the way but there’s stills third of the season to go. I’m hopeful, but Sanchez & Giroud need to get back amongst the goals.
2. How surprised are you that Leicester City remain in the title hunt?
Nobody saw that coming. Jamie Vardy was in & out of the side last season but has been a revelation this term. Riyad Mahrez looks a class act & Danny Drinkwater & Kante have formed a superb partnership in central midfield. They’re certain to claim a top four spot…but I still doubt they’ll last the pace because if they pick up a couple of injuries, there’s not a lot of depth in their squad. It’d be an amazing story for the Premier League & football as a whole if Leicester could do it though.
3. What did you make of Per Mertesacker’s comments regarding Arsenal’s “problem is up front”?
He’s half right. We’ve not scored enough goals…but defensively we’ve been a shambles on occasions. On Tuesday, Mertesacker was at fault for Barcelona’s opening goal & played a part in Mathieu Flamini conceding the penalty that led to their second. Mertesacker is not good enough to be a first choice centre half at Arsenal. He should get his own performances in check before giving comments like those to the press.
4. Just how much longer will Arsene Wenger go on for and will Arsenal ever win the European Cup?
I think we’ll see Wenger in chance for at least two more seasons after this one. Arsenal as a club is perfectly set up to win Europe’s top prize: It’s financially rock solid, has quality players & a terrific infrastructure. Whoever replaces Wenger has an excellent platform to move the club even further on.
5. If you had to rate Ian Wright, Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Alexis Sanchez and Robert Pires in order of importance to Arsenal – what would be your five and why?
1. Dennis Bergkamp
2. Thierry Henry
3. Robert Pires
4. Ian Wright
5. Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez hasn’t done enough or been around long enough to warrant being placed ahead of the other four, great player though he is. Ian Wright was a complete goalscorer but was a bit of a one-man band in his pomp. Robert Pires was the best left winger we’ve ever had & his 2002 season was sensational. Nobody was better in the Premier League that season. He’s an Invincible & a true legend. Thierry Henry’s our record scorer – a true great of the modern era. But for me, Dennis Bergkamp made everyone around him better. Wright, Nicolas Anelka, Freddie Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Marc Overmars & Henry all looked better because of Bergkamp’s vision. Henry & Wright say he’s the best striker they ever played with. That’s good enough for me.
6. What have you made of Manchester United this season and will Louis van Gaal be at the helm next season?
Pretty poor. The team is not set up offensively enough – LVG is defence-minded but United fans expect a tracking football. I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t leave at the end of the season.
7. Other than the 1-0 victory at Old Trafford in May 2002 – what is your most memorable Manchester United vs. Arsenal match at Old Trafford?
The 1998 game we won 1-0 thanks to Matc Overmars’ goal. That victory sealed the club’s belief it could go & win the title.
8. Is there any part of you that is slightly worried about the prospect of Spurs winning the league?
9. If you could take one United player and put him in the starting XI for Arsenal, who would it be?
Anthony Martial. He’s the type of player we need. Strong, quick, deadly in the box. Exactly what we are missing up front.
10. What is your all time Arsenal 1-11 with gaffer and subs?
4-4-1-1: Seaman, Dixon, Cole, Campbell, Adams, Petit, Vieira, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp & Henry.
Subs: Keown, Cech, Gilberto, Overmars, Wright, Sanchez & Fabregas
Manager: Arsene Wenger