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Manchester United vs. Arsenal: match preview

Kickoff: 3 PM EST
TV: ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Mobile
SBN Man U perspective: The Busby Babe

Arsenal travel "north by northwest" today to Old Trafford; let's hope they don't end up hanging off the front of Mt. Rushmore by the match's end (har har).  Currently one point ahead of Manchester United (although United have a game in hand), tonight's match is a great chance to solidify the move to the top of the table.



This is, of course, a match that the league table does not quite sum up; these two clubs share a rivalry that sums up a large portion of the Premier League's history.  Comments have come from all sides ahead of the match, but interestingly, the managers, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger, have been the calm at the center of the media hurricane.

United are mostly at full strength now; Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes look set to play tonight.  Antonio Valencia is out, as are Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves, and Jonny Evans and Wes Brown are slight doubts as well.

Arsenal, meanwhile, will miss out on the services of Cesc Fabregas, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs, and possibly Johan Djourou.

UPDATE: Djourou is fit, according to the official website, while Fabianski may not be; could Wojciech Szczesny start?

A tactical question that is coming up ahead of the match is Arsenal's formation; now that Robin van Persie is available again, alternatives to the usual 4-3-3 present themselves.  Whether Wenger will opt for one of these or stick with his usual formation is to be seen.  Assuming a 4-3-3, a possible lineup:


Sagna        Squillaci       Koscielny/Djourou       Clichy

Song        Wilshere

Van Persie

Nasri        Chamakh        Arshavin

Although there has been talk of a 4-4-1-1, with van Persie behind Chamakh, and a midfield quartet of Nasri, Song, Denilson, and Wilshere...