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Super Saturday: Is Arsenal-Man Utd clash losing steam?

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Arsenal vs Man Utd

There is always hype once the fixture list of every season is released. Most people quickly scan through the fixture list looking for Arsenal-Man Utd clashes, followed by circling the dates on their calendars. There seems to be an obsession in this fixture, so much as to influence a famous song, “Kati ya Man U na Arsenali gani kali”, which means between Manchester United and Arsenal which team is better?

However, this fixture has been one-sided in the recent past. It is so predictable that in the last 10 encounters between these two teams in the Premier League, Manchester have won seven, drawn two and lost one. In fact, Arsenal’s win was a slender 1-0 while Manchester has dished out enough humiliation to Arsenal, most notably the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford in 2011/2012 season.

Things have changed a little bit this time round. Manchester United is a pale shadow of its former days under SAF. Arsenal won the FA Cup last season and the Community Shield at the beginning of this season with an emphatic 3-0 win over Premier League Champions, Manchester City. This begs the question, will there be a paradigm shift in this fixture, or will it be the obvious predictable outcomes? Here are 3 factors that will influence the outcome of this fixture:

Arsene Wenger vs. Louis van Gaal tactics scorecard

Arsene Wenger, 65, has managed over 1000 Premier League games, spearheading Arsenal to win 3 Premier League titles in the process, with the last one in 2003/2004 where Arsenal were unbeaten throughout the entire campaign. Louis van Gaal, 63, on the other hand, does not boast equivalent experience in the Premier League.

The former Ajax man flexed his tactical muscles in the recently concluded Fifa World Cup, having an ordinary Netherlands team finish third undefeated throughout the campaign. LvG is a tactical genius and a winner, clear from his decorated managerial career. Both managers tend to have similar football philosophy, putting more emphasis on passing and possession.

However, the former Bayern Munich manager is more flexible in his formation, ranging from 3-5-2, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and most recently 4-1-4-1. On the other hand, Arsene Wenger sticks to his 4-2-3-1. Whichever tactics each manager employs will prove instrumental in the outcome.

Robin van Persie vs. Danny Welbeck

The 31-year old former Arsenal skipper is making a return to his former club. His last season at Emirates Stadium saw him score 30 goals to be crowned the 2011/2012 top scorer. The Dutch skipper carried his scintillating form to Old Trafford in his first season at Manchester United scoring 26 goals to retain his top scorer accolade.

However, the following season, Van Persie struggled for find form and didn’t see the net most of the time. This season, he has only scored 3 goals in 8 appearances for his club. Danny Welbeck is also set to play against his childhood club following a £16m move from Manchester United in August this year. The 23-year old England international has been in fine goalscoring form. Although with only one goal in the Premier League, Danny Welbeck scored his first hat-trick for Arsenal in the Champions League match at home against Galatasaray. He has been very instrumental in England’s 6-match winning streak scoring 5 goals in the process since joining Arsenal. This match puts both strikers in pole positions to make a statement to their former clubs. However, they’d better find their goal scoring boots, lest they become peripheral figures in the clash.

Although with only one goal in the Premier League, Danny Welbeck scored his first hat-trick for Arsenal in the Champions League match at home against Galatasaray. He has been very instrumental in England’s 6-match winning streak scoring 5 goals in the process since joining Arsenal. This match puts both strikers in pole positions to make a statement to their former clubs. However, they’d better find their goal scoring boots, lest they become peripheral figures in the clash.

Alexis Sanchez vs. Angel Di Maria

Should I call it a real South American standoff? Well, the two South American internationals are going head to head in this fixture. Alexis Sanchez, 25, has been in fine form, scoring 8 Premier League goals, third to Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero. The Chilean international and former Barcelona man has two assists to his name and has settled quickly into the Premier League following his £35m move from Barcelona.

His imperious work rate and impeccable dribbling skills, coupled with his pace, athleticism and knack for goals make him stand out from all Arsenal players. Di Maria has settled quickly too, following his £59.7m move from Real Madrid in August.The 26-year old Argentina international has scored 3 goals and has 5 assists to his name.The former Benfica man, wearing the iconic #7 shirt for Man Utd has been instrumental in Man United’s campaign so far. His excellent pace, wonderful dribbling skills and a long range of superb passes

His imperious work rate and impeccable dribbling skills, coupled with his pace, athleticism and knack for goals make him stand out from all Arsenal players. Di Maria has settled quickly too, following his £59.7m move from Real Madrid in August.The 26-year old Argentina international has scored 3 goals and has 5 assists to his name.The former Benfica man, wearing the iconic #7 shirt for Man Utd has been instrumental in Man United’s campaign so far. His excellent pace, wonderful dribbling skills and a long range of superb passes makes Di Maria crucial for Louis van Gaal’s team. The former Real Madrid player makes wonderful runs in the final third, persistently troubling defenders.

Will the London outfit outshine the Manchester-based club?  Give your predictions.

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