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Arsenal must overcome Old Trafford hoodoo in battle of the fallen giants against Manchester United

05 Mar | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Arsenal must overcome Old Trafford hoodoo in battle of the fallen giants against Manchester United

Louis van Gaal’s men have been underwhelming of late, but recent games between the sides suggest the Gunners may still struggle

Games between Manchester United and Arsenal, over the last two decades at least, have rarely been anything other than blockbuster affairs.

This, of course, is the rivalry that has defined the Premier League era more than any other: between Arsène Wenger’s arrival in London and Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, the pair scooped 13 of 17 league titles, establishing their clubs as the dominant forces of the modern era. This was a battle that has shaped a generation of football fans: Wright vs Schmeichel; Vieira vs Keane; Invincibles vs Comeback Kings.

But things change quickly in football. United find themselves in a post-Fergie purgatory, scrabbling with increasing desperation to regain a foothold as Chelsea and Manchester City scamper off into the distance.

Louis van Gaal’s bravado and conviction has thus far provided a welcome shield from the maelstrom of criticism that swept David Moyes off his feet, but only the most blinkered fan could be happy with the brand of football on display at Old Trafford in recent months. The Red Devils remain in the top four but with Liverpool lurking, things could get fretful between now and May.

Arsenal, for their part, appear to be caught in a time loop, doomed to the agreeably mild disappointment of a springtime European exit, a top-four place and the possibility of a big-name that could – but ultimately won’t – bring back the glory days. Things could be worse, of course, but the true frustration must be that they could so obviously be significantly better; Arsenal are now in a permanent state of almost-greatness.

Given the way the league table is shaping up, both sides would kill for the distraction of an FA Cup win. On current (domestic) form, there can surely only be one winner: the Gunners have won ten of their last 11 league and cup games, while United struggled to see off Cambridge United and Preston in previous rounds.

And yet for all their travails, United remain something of a bête noire for Arsenal. This is particularly true at Old Trafford, where nine of the last ten meetings between the sides have been won by the hosts.

There is something about the pattern that is impervious to variations in form and fortunes: if United are playing well, they beat Arsenal; if United are struggling, they still beat Arsenal. Hell, even if United play Chris Smalling in midfield and Fabio da Silva on the wing, they beat Arsenal.

Wenger will need to buck that trend to prevent Arsenal’s season petering out for the millionth time on Monday night.