So, it’s time for another round of Arsenal versus United.
This game has been the poster boy for the Premier League for decades. It may have tumbled down the pecking order a little in recent years with the surfacing of Chelsea and City, but it matters no less to us fans.
Now, there is also the added bonus of inflicting misery on Jose Mourinho – who doesn’t want to do that?
Both teams are in form. United have won four of their last six – their losses were against Chelsea and Huddersfield – and they lie in second spot, four points above us before the game.
We have won four on the bounce since our loss to City, and have conceded precisely zero. That is the key to any confidence we carry into this game. Our defence has been exemplary and the trio of Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal are really acting as a unit.
They will need to when facing Lukaku, Pogba and Rashford.
They possess very different traits, so we will be stretched. Our midfield has to be awake to the runs of Pogba, so the improved showings of Ramsey and Xhaka is crucial to our hopes.
In terms of who makes the team, our fantastic 5-0 win over Huddersfield in midweek came at a cost. Alexandre Lacazette was subbed at half time due to a groin injury, and he may be ruled out for the foreseeable. Seeing as December is crammed full of fixtures, he could miss a fair amount of games.
Step forward Olivier Giroud. He scored two in the second half of our 5-0 smashing of the Terriers, and he will need to be at his best against United.
We were all surprised when Wenger named a full team for the Huddersfield win. We all expected a few changes to prepare for this match, but Wenger opted to maintain rhythm and an unchanged side, aside from the inclusion of Ozil.
Now, the argument must be made that if players can’t maintain levels for three games in eight days, then the level of professional sportsmen they claim to be must be called into doubt. On the other hand, this is arsenal, and fitness is no god-given right.
Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott are both available for inclusion, and Jack Wilshere will be hoping his positive cameo against the Terriers will do his stake no harm.
United have a wealth of options in attack, with Rashford, Ibrahimovic, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku and Lingard all vying for a limited number of spots. Jose will have his defence drilled though. Away from home against a rival, he will have his team set up not to lose, rather than all out to win. Professional, pragmatic, but bloody boring.
We are still unbeaten at home, and we need to continue that if we are to keep the pressure on the top3 – and keep the gap between us and that lot down the road.
Predicted Lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal