Arsenal fans can be forgiven for not wanting to make the trip to Old Trafford after witnessing horrific scenes on their previous visit.
The Gunners are 4/1 underdogs to avenge the 8-2 trouncing they suffered at Man United’s hands last term and their unconvincing recent form fully justifies this price.
United have been scoring goals for fun and, while they have been far from watertight at the back, Arsene Wenger’s side turned out three tentative performances at home and abroad – winning just once and scoring a solitary goal – before winning an almighty tussle with Reading, in which they were 4-0 down in first half stoppage-time.
The defence that started at the Madejski will be much changed to the one that will be gracing the field at the Theatre of Dreams, but if they defend half as bad against United, they’ll need to score seven goals just to get a draw and the hosts won’t be as charitable as the Royals.
Rio Ferdinand, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney – who has notched 12 goals in 25 career appearances against Arsenal – will all return to the fold after sitting out Sir Alex Ferguson’s sides’ 5-4 extra-time loss to Chelsea in their last game.
After bagging a hat-trick of his own in the Capital One Cup win over Reading, Theo Walcott will be expecting to retain his place in the visitors’ side. His pace was one of the few things to trouble United in the mammoth victory; he scored their first goal after winning a penalty that RVP failed to convert.
The 23-year-old is a big price to open the scoring at 11/1, while the 4/1 on offer for him to net at any time could be worth a bet with United looking shaky at the back.
They’ve shipped 11 goals in their past four games and have kept just three clean sheets in all competitions this season – not the sort of stringency you’d associated with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
This detracts value from the 13/8 that says they’ll keep the Gunners at bay, but heaps it on the 4/6 that there’ll be over 2.5 goals scored in this one.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date