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Arsenal vs. Manchester United: Match preview

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The Mancunians come to town.

This is seriously the first picture of Wenger smiling I've seen in months
This is seriously the first picture of Wenger smiling I've seen in months
Miles Willis/Getty Images

Arsenal v. Manchester United
English Premier League
Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday, November 22, 2014
9AM PT/Noon ET/5PM BT
Current Form: ARS fine I guess if you like defensive collapses | MUFC LOL
US TV: NBC | Worldwide TV: livesoccer.tv

Arsenal seem to be heading towards the happy end of the Great Injury Crisis of 2014. No, everyone's not fit yet, but those that aren't fit are close, and even the most diehard "Arsenal = injuries" person should be feeling just a tiny bit of happiness because that particular...well, I don't want to use the N word, but let's say that particular story line is starting to draw to a conclusion, as players return to training and want to see their names on the team sheet.  Theo Walcott is out with a tight groin, but that's a minor thing and shouldn't impact his return to full speed beyond tomorrow's absence.

And now we turn to Manchester United. The one certainty is that they will have eleven people on the field come 5PM in London; the question is, how many of those people will be professional soccer players, and how many will be backroom staff drafted in at the last minute to cover for the War and Peace-sized injury list that Arsen...oh wait sorry that was a reflex...that Manchester United are saddled with right now?

It looks like De Gea and Di Maria may be healthy again after injury scares from international duty, but that's just a dent in a list that contains a good chunk of their defensive corps, 2/3 of their regular midfield, and Radamel Falcao. In fact, a case could be made that a Manchester United injured 11 would give the potential starters a good game.

We all know that Arsenal haven't been at their best this season yet, at least in the league. We all have our theories as to why.  We all saw what happened before the break.  But you know what? Sports is fundamentally about optimism. Sports is about wanting your team to win, instead of exploring the many reasons why they may lose. So I'm going with optimism, because as much as a North London derby angries up the blood, there just ain't nothing like beating Manchester United, even in their current state of transition and underperformance.

They may not be the big kids on the block any more, but they're still a team that is a tremendous amount of fun to beat - they're the bully in the fifth grade whose growth spurt didn't happen over the summer while everyone around him got bigger and stronger, and once the school year started they all stopped taking his shit. In short, tomorrow's about taking back our goddamn lunch money, and I'm feeling like it's time to shove someone in a locker and close the door.