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Man Utd v Arsenal, Sat 29th August, 17:15 Sky Sports 1

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Thomas Vermaelen is looking forward to locking horns with Wayne Rooney for the first time and is showing no nerves ahead of Saturday's encounter. Alongside William Gallas in the Gunners’ defence, the Belgian has starred in Arsenal’s searing start to the season. So far, he has gone head-to-head with the likes of Louis Saha, Marc-Antoine Fortune and Frederic Piquionne during the side’s four-straight wins. However, on Saturday he’ll face the unenviable task of keeping Rooney quiet. The striker, who is likely to start alongside Dimitar Berbatov on Saturday, brought up his Manchester United century with a 56th-minute header against Wigan at the weekend. And, when asked about facing the buoyant frontman, Vermaelen admitted that these are the clashes he moved to north London for. “I have not played against him yet, it’s my first time,” the 22-year-old said after Wedensday’s win over Celtic. “No I’m not nervous, every player looks forward to playing these types of games. “I think if you play for Arsenal in the Premier League, every game is a hard game. In Holland sometimes you had a game at home which was easy but here you fight very hard.“You are looking forward to every game but Man United is a special game.”After the multi-million departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side appeared to start the season slowly, following an unconvincing 1-0 win over Birmingham with a defeat at Burnley. But Vermaelen will not be reading much in to Man United’s early-season results. “I think they are a good team, they might have sold Cristiano Ronaldo but still they have very good players,” he explained. “When I saw them last year they are playing as a team and that’s very important.”“I think it’s a different game again on Saturday – it’s us starting again. We had a game on Wednesday so we’ll see how we recover from that.”
Theo Walcott will not be fit until after the international break. The winger sustained a back strain during Arsenal’s pre-seasondefeat at Valencia on August 8 and has missed the Gunners’ first four games of the season. Speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash against Manchester United, Arsène Wenger confirmed that the 20-year-old will certainly miss the trip to Old Trafford and gave an update on his situation.“I have not seen him for a while in my training sessions,” the manager told Arsenal TV Online. “He is monitored by the physios and the fitness coach. “At the moment he works in straight lines so he won’t be available until after the international break.”
Emmanuel Eboue is not letting himself dwell on the departure of his two friends, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor.The African duo left for Manchester City in the summer leaving the Ivory Coast international at Emirates Stadium. But the midfielder has accepted their transfer, improved his personal form and moved on. "With football you can’t play in the same team all your life," said Eboue. "For me, I am very disappointed because they are my friends and they’re gone but that’s football. The 26-year-old is now hoping Arsenal can push on with the wealth of talent the squad still boasts."We have Eduardo, Andrey Arshavin, Robin van Persie, Nicklas Bendtner and Theo Walcott, so I think we will try our best to do well with these players. "Thomas Vermaelen is a very, very good defender. He is very, very strong and I think him and William Gallas have a good partnership."
The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez in the summer has left critics doubting the ability of the Manchester United front line.Yes, Michael Owen has arrived but can he fill the gap for the Premier League champions?It is a question that has filled hours of talk radio already this campaign but the statistics suggest it is Man United’s lower profile players who actually make the difference when they take on their major opponentsThe last five seasons, the players with the best win percentage in games against the Big Four are Ryan Giggs (58 per cent), Paul Scholes (56), Wes Brown (53), Patrice Evra (53) and Owen Hargreaves (50).Meanwhile Manchester United lose 35 per cent of those games when Darren Fletcher does not play and just 23 per cent when he does.In addition, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have not picked up a win in the three Big Four games Edwin van der Sar has missed in the last five years. It is worth noting therefore that the big Dutch keeper will miss the game this weekend.Manchester United’s record against their main title rivals was relatively poor last season. The bulk of their points came from beating the almost the entire bottom half the Premier League home and away. That said, they have won 67 per cent of games against Big Four sides at Old Trafford in the last five years.In terms of goals, Wayne Rooney has three in 14 home games against Big Four opponents but Rio Ferdinand is second in the list with two. The current Arsenal squad has nine goals on the ground of their major opponents. Andrey Arshavin leads the list with four – and all of those came at Anfield last season.For Arsène Wenger, defensive players seem to be all important in games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. Surprisingly Manuel Almunia has played only three away games against Big Four teams in the past five seasons but his team have a win ratio of eight per cent when he does not play. Arsenal have averaged 1.25 points in this category of game when Denilson has played and one point when he has not. Gallas stats are similar - 1.17 to one.In keeping with the theme of ‘unsung heroes’, Arsenal have averaged 1.67 points in away games against the Big Four when Alex Song and Denilson have played in tandem but just one point when they have not.If, as Wenger says, the strength of Arsenal’s squad has improved then this game could demonstrate it.
Arsène Wenger believes UK tax laws will put an end to the Premier League’s “great days”. In Britain, anyone earning over £150,000 per year is taxed 50 per cent, much higher than many other European countries. With most - if not all - Premier League footballers well within this bracket, the law could make playing in English football a less-appealing option. The issue cropped up at Wenger’s pre-match press conference, and the manager pulled no punches in his response. “My view is quite simple,” he said. “The great days of the Premier League will disappear because of pound and tax problems. “It’s simple, let’s say a man who earned £1million per year [takes home] £600,000 per year. But with 50 per cent tax, if you want to keep him at the level of £600,000, you have to increase his wage by 20 per cent. Not every club can afford that. “On top of that, players who go abroad have tax advantages that we don’t have here. In Spain they pay their first five years only 25 per cent, that means it’s a lost battle.” So have any of Wenger’s transfer moves been affected by the Premier League’s apparent disadvantage in attracting the world’s finest players?“No,” he confirmed. “but it is a disadvantage. “In France they have made tax rules easier to attract foreign players and they managed to do it now. But here it is not up to me to assess that or judge that but basically it is a disadvantage to the Premier League. “We are privileged people and we cannot complain about that. If we have to share for the need of the country we have to accept that, but compared to other countries it is a disadvantage.”
Fabregas is already ruled out.So I'd expect...AlmuniaSagna Gallas Vermaelen ClichySong DenilsonBendtner Diaby Arshavinvan Persie
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Cesc ruled out, when did that happen? Thought he'd been called upto the Spain team for next week.Still fancy our chances. 2-1 Arsenal.

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not sure about this one.I fancy arsenal in this one but after our last encounter kinda proved we were the weaker teamthough that probably has changed coz of the exit on one of them man

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2-1 arsenal. But will be satisfied with a draw.

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f*cks sake injuries again.Unpredictable game, i'd take a 1-0.

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Vermalen to boy off the Manyoo front lineFinally we have a defender who can pass for KKK

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You think he can boy off Berbatov OR Rooney? lawl at that seriously. Our frontline isn't yours mate.

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anyone going to the game tomorrow, dreading drive up could take 5+ hours

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You think he can boy off Berbatov OR Rooney? lawl at that seriously. Our frontline isn't yours mate.
To be honest apart from when Wenger handicapped Gallas & Toure in the Cup game, the two cos of there pace could deal with United.Vermaelen isnt as fast and you've since changed formation, if you play 4-3-3 with Rooney on the left, then all good imo, but if you got 4-4-2, we will find out how intelligent Vermaelen is and how he copes with Rooney buzzing around him.Whoever IMO the test of Vermaelen tho comes against Torres & Drogba.
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Whoever IMO the test of Vermaelen tho comes against Drogba.
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Cesc Fabregas’ hamstring injury will keep him out of Saturday’s clash with Manchester United.The captain was replaced at half-time of last weekend’s 4-1 victory against Portsmouth and missed the Champions League victory over Celtic on Wednesday.In an interview with Arsenal TV Online yesterday, Arsène Wenger rated Fabregas as “50:50” for the match at Old Trafford. However, at Friday’s pre-match press conference, the manager ruled him out. “Fabregas is out and his test was not conclusive this morning,” the manager confirmed. “Therefore he will not travel. “Ideally you want him to travel and to play but he would not be 100 per cent.“Everybody else who played on Wednesday is ok.”
Arsenal can prove their away-day ability against England’s elite at Old Trafford on Saturday, according to Arsène Wenger.November’s 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge was the Gunners’ first at another Big Four ground since they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2006. It was only their second since February 2004. But, after four-straight wins this season, Arsenal will travel to the home of the champions in buoyant mood. Speaking at Friday’s pre-match press conference, Wenger confirmed that belief in his squad is high ahead of the trip, but would not be drawn on the current shape of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.“We want to show that we can win the big games away from home,” he said. “This is a good opportunity to do it. “We know we go to Old Trafford with a good belief and that is very important before a big game like that. “I don’t speculate on any weakness of Man United – that would be a little bit naïve on my part.“ first of all the quality and talent of my players. Secondly the attitude, desire and togetherness of the team.”
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anyone going to the game tomorrow, dreading drive up could take 5+ hours
Leaving out 9am to get on the motorway early, and have a look around town for a few drinks and then head to the game.Got a minibus, 13 of us.2-0 Arsenal. Goal against the run of play 2nd half when they have their little period of possession, one last few mins of the game.*Dreams*
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1- 1 or 2-1, can see it being a 3-1 before a 0-0.

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i think we'll win tbh

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Thats the spirit!WE LOVE YOU ARSENAL WE DOOOO

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3-1 to the Arsenal

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anyone going to the game tomorrow, dreading drive up could take 5+ hours
Leaving out 9am to get on the motorway early, and have a look around town for a few drinks and then head to the game.Got a minibus, 13 of us.2-0 Arsenal. Goal against the run of play 2nd half when they have their little period of possession, one last few mins of the game.*Dreams*
your sick.I NEED to get on this minibus lol
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2-2both united goals from i'll-moon-ya howlers

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and a van persie/shava no show

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Really think we can do this one, shame I'm going to miss this one, will be on a plane to Dubai from Beijing :D didn't know when I booked it this would happen.Come on the Arsenal!

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