EPL – Arsenal v Manchester United

Arsenal v Manchester United – Sunday 28 April – Emirates Stadium (17:00)

Jack Wilshere, Arsenal

Jack Wilshere, Arsenal

Arsenal will host newly crowned league champions Manchester United on Sunday in a must win match for the Gunners who seek an all important Champions League place. Arsenal have given themselves a fighting chance of finishing in the top four after some impressive form which has moved them up to third spot, but must beat Manchester United to keep the pressure on Chelsea and Tottenham who have a game in hand over Arsene Wenger’s team.

Arsenal’s problems this season have been well documented. After their worst ever start to a Premier League campaign they were knocked out of both domestic cup competitions by lower league opposition and also failed to make it past the first round of Champions League knockout stages. A loss to Spurs a few weeks back seemed set to condemn them to fifth, but a run of five victories punctuated by just one draw at Everton has seen their hopes revived. Arsene Wenger said Arsenal’s recent run of form has been “sensational” after the Gunners boosted their hopes of a Premier League top four finish with a 1-0 win at Fulham last Saturday.

Fulham’s Steve Sidwell was sent off in the 12th minute before Per Mertesacker scored the only goal of the match. Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud also saw red late on. The Gunners are currently on 63 points in third, but Chelsea and Tottenham on 62 and 61 both have a game in hand, albeit against each other. Robin van Persie is set to visit the Emirates Stadium for the first time since leaving the club for Manchester United last summer and is likely to be welcomed with a traditional guard of honour as a Premier League champion. However, though the home fans are set to jeer the striker, Wenger is adamant that the former Arsenal star will be treated well by his old club.

Manchester United won their record 20th English league title on Monday night, beating Aston Villa, 3-0, on Robin van Persie’s first-half hat-trick. United clinched the championship with four games to spare. Van Persie joined United last summer after eight unsatisfying years at Arsenal.  He put United ahead after 83 seconds when he scored from close range. He doubled the lead with a stunning volley in the 12th minute and completed his hat-trick in the 33rd minute. United who have won 27, drawn four and lost just three matches this season have a 16-point lead over second placed Manchester City, who have a game more to play.

City edged United in the final minute of last season with two injury-time goals against Queen Park Rangers. After that disappointment, United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson vowed that his team would never again lose the title because it had not scored enough goals, and his decision to sign Van Persie for 24 million pounds proved to be pivotal. The Dutch international has a league-leading 24 goals this season.

United won the reverse fixture 2-1 at Old Trafford and also won by the same scoreline in this fixture at the Emirates last season. However, Arsenal are unbeaten at home in seven matches since January and United don’t have much to play for here. Back the home win.

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