Don't let anyone tell you that this is no longer a big game. Just because two financially doped clubs coincidentally find themselves dominating the top of the table come the end of the season doesn't take anything away from these two big historical clubs.
Not beating a David Moyes Manchester United team last season certainly felt like an opportunity missed, while Louis van Gaal's team have not provided any more points at the start of this season, it feels like overcoming the red devils will be a far more difficult task even with the waves of Arsenal-esque injury problems sweeping over the Northerners.
The Manchester United back line is well short on numbers but I suspect some of the less crocked will be wheeled out anyway. The one injury doubt that hasn't gone in our favour is that of Angel di Maria. I'd be hugely surprised if the Argentine was not given the role of Swansea's Jefferson Montero. Isolating Calum Chambers and dribbling at him at speed if that is the case I hope we've done some work on that to protect the lad. It would be frustrating for example if we were to have a majority of the ball in the opening exchanges only to see us concede due to Calum Chambers being hung out to dry again.
But as nervy as some of us are about our back four you'd think we are more than capable of causing a makeshift Manchester United defence plenty to think about. Danny Welbeck will be extra motivated against his old club assuming he comes through his fitness test without any problems. It always seems likely that the ex player scores against his former club when it involves our former player being on the opposite side but I cannot remember many instances of it working in our favour. Perhaps that is just myself writing on my red and white keyboard and the statistics would suggest otherwise. Nevertheless I would love to see Welbeck on the score sheet followed by some chest thumping in front of Robin van Persie, causing the Dutchman to react and swing a punch in the direction of Welbeck who artfully ducks only for the punch to land onto the eye of Angel di Maria. Van Persie could then be sent off for violent conduct and di Maria substituted to nurse his sore eye.
I might have to give Carlsberg a ring and see if they can be of assistance.
Jokes aside, our front players will be of interest. Alexis Sanchez could be moved out of his central role today. In a big clash like this, the team that takes control of the game is more likely to have the upper hand. For that reason I expect both Ramsey and Wilshere to start with Mikel Arteta. If we are to play three central players in midfield then someone will have to be sacrificed. I think we could see a front three of Alexis, Chamberlain and Welbeck.
Oliver Giroud returns to the bench for the first time since he was injured by a ball at Everton while Theo Walcott apparently misses out with a 'little tight groin' as Arsène said. Interestingly though, Theo Walcott was spotted in the training pictures.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
Both teams have to attack today as those are the strengths of both sides, so that should make for an entertaining game. I suspect that Manchester United will play counter attacking football today, looking to get behind our full backs and hit the large spaces we often leave behind when we attack. It would be nice to score first for a change in these big games. In fact I'm going for Welbeck to open the scoring turning in a cross from close range. I say this knowing full well that my random predictions almost never ever come off but what the heck.
A win today could give the players and supporters the confidence boost we all need right now. So let's hope we get a performance and result in our favour. Recent history is not on our side, 1 win in 14 is not fun but there is always the opportunity to make that change as the late Michael Jackson once said.
We've got a Manchester United fans perspective of the game coming up shortly and then the usual post match Q&A so pop back onto the site later.