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The photo I took at the end of this match last season will remain forever my PDA screen-saver.
OK I will admit that I also took 7-2, just in case.
This was Fairyland. Everything went right for United, and Arsenal were bad, but not awful. They were missing a couple of players, but this was a very open match to the end and, unlike City, Arsenal’s defence was dreadful.
So United fans will be very confident of beating Arsenal at home, though not by a cricket score.
The Gunners play pretty football but so much will hinge on whether they can keep Robin van Persie. if they can’t, and better still if the Dutchman were playing for the home team, this would be a banker home.
OK, so Arsenal fans are already raving about Olivier Giroud, but they also were about Marouane Chamakh and, to a lesser extent, Nicholas Bendtner, both of whom are likely to leave.
And then there was “wonderkid” Andrei Arshavin, and now even Theo Walcott may not be there next season.
A lot falls on the shoulders of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain if all these things come to pass.
United’s recent success has been built on defensive reliability. That this was lacking last season was largely down to the appalling injury crisis, of which losing Nemanja Vidic was the most costly.
This season, United will have a more settled look, even though five centre-backs and four full-backs will be used. Ferdinand is back to his best; Vidic is back; Jonny Evans has arrived; and Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are chomping at the bit.
Arsenal won’t be good enough to break United down. The Red Devils should make hay.
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Edin Dzeko will be long gone and United won’t play like headless chickens—especially if Leighton Baines has been signed.
United committed hara-kiri last year, led by Patrice Evra who thought he was centre-forward for the day.
That memory will be bitterly etched into the minds of United players, and revenge will be desperately sought.
It will be close, fast and potentially physical but United will just edge a thriller. once again it could be critical in the title run-in.
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Manchester United have an excellent recent record against Arsenal, whose form at the Emirates last season was disappointing by their standards.
As seen with United, when you create a massive increase in capacity, the crowd can become more quiet.
United were good at silencing Arsenal supporters last season and the trip this season will hold no fears.
Arsenal play pretty football and their defence will be less brittle this time around, but United will get a result again, especially if Van Persie has gone.
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Assuming that Torres stays, Chelsea’s hopes of revival could rest squarely on his shoulders.
In previous seasons for Liverpool, he has been scary good. Even Vidic struggled to hold him.
Last season at old Trafford, he had one of the worst misses in footballing history. if he had scored, Chelsea could well have got a result.
The Blues will be a different proposition this season, irrespective of personnel changes, because you don’t need any motivation to play Manchester United.
But have they got the right manager, and, to take Juan Mata and Raul Meireles as an example, new signings don’t always become legends.
Mata may get more chances this time and he is still a good player, but how will Chelsea set up, who will stay and who will go?
If Torres is in the team and in form, this one will be close and potentially critical to the Premier League title.
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Some of you may think I’ve lost the plot by including this match, which will happen almost exactly a year after last season’s fixture.
On the face of it, that match was a routine affair, but Swansea were many people’s second team to watch last year.
This season there will probably be many changes of personnel. Gylfi Sigurdsson could end up at Liverpool or Tottenham; Brendan Rodgers has gone; and players like Scott Sinclair, Joe Allen and Michael Vorm will undoubtedly attract interest.
Added to that, Swansea may experience “second season syndrome” and could well be in a relegation dogfight.
So why is it included here and why would United be eagerly anticipating this match?
Simply because, if all goes to plan and United do as we all hope and expect—especially if it proves to be Fergie’s swansong—this is the last home game of the season.
And therefore, the one at which we will receive the Premier League trophy, recording an epic 20th title and a fitting coda to Sir Alex’s career.