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Creaking Arsenal face untimely Man United test

November 06, 2008 10:29 IST

Arsenal [Images] are going through a sticky patch, goals and points are drying up and injuries are mounting, so it is not the best time to entertain Manchester United [Images] on Saturday.

A home defeat by Hull City and last week's shipping of two late goals to allow local rivals Tottenham Hotspur to grab a famous 4-4 draw both undermined the "Fortress Emirates" mentality.

That was followed by another defeat at Stoke City and Wednesday's goalless home draw with Fenerbahce in the Champions League, a team they thumped 5-2 away last month.

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor will miss Saturday's game with an ankle injury, winger Theo Walcott is doubtful with a shoulder problem and Robin van Persie is suspended.

Without their first-choice strike duo, Wenger is likely to turn to 19-year-old Carlos Vela, who played the last 30 minutes on Wednesday, and Nicklas Bendtner, hardly ideal against the Champions of Europe.

That lack of depth has left Arsenal exposed a little but Wenger, instead of looking to his own selections and dealings, or otherwise, in the close-season transfer market, has chosen to look elsewhere for blame.

Increasingly frustrated by the way more physical teams have been able to negate his slick-passing but lightweight side, the Frenchman this week claimed that Stoke's players had set out to deliberately hurt his players.

NO PANIC

However, he is refusing to panic.

"We want to be guided by the way we want to play football, our spirit and not to go over-board," he said.

"We lost a game (against Stoke) but we are six points behind the leaders. It is the start of November and we have plenty of quality to get it back.

"United is always a massive game and Saturday is no different. But they drew also against Celtic so maybe that shows you how demanding the Premier League is."

Another defeat could stretch that gap to nine and see Chelsea, Liverpool and United pulling clear.

Although United needed a late Ryan Giggs header for their point at Celtic Park, their multi-pronged attack again looked extremely dangerous.

Soft defending allowed Hull to score three at Old Trafford last week but United bagged four.

Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney [Images] and Cristiano Ronaldo [Images] are all starting to find the net regularly and Carlos Tevez is also showing some sharpness after spending time on the bench.

A point ahead of Arsenal and with a game in hand, an away victory for United, something they have managed in the league just once in 10 years, would leave the Gunners in real trouble.

Chelsea, who returned to the top last week on goal difference with a 5-0 thrashing of Sunderland, are at Blackburn Rovers on Sunday while Liverpool, stunned 2-1 at Tottenham Hotspur, are at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.


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