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Arsenal resume battle with Man Utd
November 23, 2007 14:08 IST
Arsenal resume battle with Manchester United at the top of the Premier League on Saturday as England [Images] football fans come to terms with the midweek failure of the national side to reach the finals of Euro 2008 [Images].
At least none of Arsenal's likely starting line-up against Wigan will be suffering a bruised ego as manager Arsene Wenger is expected to field a completely foreign side.
In fact the Gunners should give another stark illustration of what the England team lack as their brand of slick, passing football will surely sweep away a struggling Wigan side who have lost seven league games in a row.
On current form Arsenal could run up a cricket score, especially as Wigan, 4-0 losers at Tottenham Hotspur last week, are in some disarray having seen their unveiling of Steve Bruce as new manager put on ice after late hitches.
United, who also had no representatives in England's crushing Wembley defeat to Croatia owing to Rio Ferdinand's suspension and Wayne Rooney's [Images] injury, travel to Bolton, who like Wigan are in the relegation zone.
Bolton, however, are at least showing some signs of revival under new manager Gary Megson and will be no pushovers for a United side unbeaten in the league since August.
United could have central defender Nemanja Vidic back now that Serbia's re-arranged match against Kazakhstan no longer has any influence on Euro 2008 qualification.
Arsenal and United are level on 30 points, four better off than third-placed Manchester City who host Reading aiming to continue their 100 percent record at home this season.
Fourth-placed Chelsea, a point further back, are at bottom club Derby County.
Derby, beaten 5-0 at home by West Ham United last time out, appear doomed already and could be the ideal opponents for Chelsea's England players Frank Lampard [Images], Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips to shake off the Wembley blues.
Chelsea, who lost ground on Arsenal and United when they drew with Everton, will be without Ricardo Carvalho who faces eight weeks out with a back injury.
Ashley Cole could return, however, from an ankle injury while captain John Terry trained with England and could come into contention.
Newcastle United have a familiar problem as they host fifth-placed Liverpool after Michael Owen [Images] was injured playing for England against Austria last Friday and is ruled out.
Liverpool have struggled to find their rhythm this season although an 8-0 European victory over Besiktas followed by a 2-0 win against Fulham has taken the spotlight off manager Rafael Benitez slightly.
Whether or not striker Peter Crouch gets a game, however, is doubtful, even if he was one of England's best players against Croatia when he struck a superb goal.
Elsewhere, high-flying Portsmouth travel to Birmingham whose manager Steve Bruce looks to be heading to Wigan, while on Sunday West Ham United host Tottenham Hotspur who have not lost since Juande Ramos took over from martin Jol.