Manchester United visit Arsenal on Sunday with Sir Alex Ferguson’s men closing in on what would be a record 19th championship.
Until recently, this match was considered a pivotal one in deciding the eventual destination of the English Premier League title, but the form of Arsene Wenger’s side has dipped so markedly that they have slipped to third place behind Chelsea, nine points off the pace.
Interestingly, it has been Arsenal’s form at home that has let them down this season.
Since the New Year they have been held by Blackburn (0-0), Sunderland (0-0), Newcastle (4-4), Manchester City (0-0) and Liverpool (1-1) – with all but the Newcastle game at the Emirates.
In their most recent match, a 90th-minute header from Tamir Cohen lifted Bolton to a 2-1 win at the Reebok Stadium, prompting Wenger to all but concede his side’s title challenge was over.
For Ferguson’s men, the march towards a 12th Premier League title continues relentlessly – and they could also be heading towards a third Champions League crown under the Scotsman’s watch, after taking a 2-0 lead over Schalke in the first-leg of their semi-final on Tuesday.
In their most recent league match, a late goal from Javier Hernandez handed United a 1-0 win over Everton at Old Trafford.
Both squads are in excellent shape for this time of the season, with Arsenal’s only casualties being goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, whose season is over with a shoulder injury, and midfielder Abou Diaby who is nursing a calf problem.
In better news for Wenger, Belgian centre back Thomas Vermaelen made it through 90 minutes of Arsenal’s reserves clash with United on Thursday unscathed, after missing most of the season with an Achilles tendon problem.
For United, striker Dimitar Berbatov did not feature against Schalke and is in doubt, midfielder Darren Fletcher is still battling back to full fitness after a virus and Owen Hargreaves is still unavailable.
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