Former Manchester United right-back Gary Neville feels Arsenal can send a strong message against his former team on Sunday.
The Gunners are just three points behind Louis van Gaal’s men at the top of the Premier League table, so the game at the Emirates Stadium is a huge one.
Tuesday was disappointing with Arsenal crashing to a 3-2 defeat to Olympiacos in the Champions League, but success is more likely in the league and – if Arsenal could send a real message by beating Manchester United – you’d think most of Tuesday’s shortcomings will be forgiven by fans.
“I think Arsene Wenger will be looking at games like Sunday – they lost against Chelsea and had players sent off – and thinking they have to start turning those games in their favour and win,” said Sky Sports pundit Neville.
“They lost this fixture last year – I’m not quite sure they deserved it because they played quite well in the first part of the game – but Sunday’s a big, big game for Arsenal.
“It’s a big game for Manchester United as well but whoever’s going to [potentially] win the league out of both of them, who’s going to handle Sunday? Who’s going to press forward and have confidence from that match?”
The former Manchester United right-back is now a coach for Roy Hodgson’s England and thinks one of the players he works with at international level could be key at the weekend.
Theo Walcott scored four times in September and has been named Arsenal player of the month, and Neville feels his blistering pace could prove the difference against a Manchester United side that plays open football.
“United can only play one way under van Gaal,” Neville said. “He won’t change; he’ll try to dominate the ball, he’ll send his full-backs forward.
“That means Daley Blind and Chris Smalling could become exposed if Arsenal can win the ball back in good areas.
“For that reason, [Wenger] will probably stick with [Theo] Walcott.”
If Walcott can continue his good form and expose United at the back, Arsenal have a great chance of taking all three points at the weekend and Neville knows it. The Gunners have looked their worst against sides which adopt a defensive approach, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll encounter that on Sunday.
It won’t right all the wrongs of midweek, but every will feel a lot better again if Arsenal can get one over Louis van Gaal’s team.