Arsenal’s lack of a recognised holding midfielder could prove their biggest undoing as they look to get their Premier League campaign up and running against Manchester United.
Arsene Wenger’s team have collected only one point and failed to score in their opening two Premier League games, which is not the ideal preparation ahead of a trip to Old Trafford to face an in-form Manchester United.
Although their big issues to date have been in attack, it is at the other end of the pitch where they have the greater difficulty at Old Trafford.
Arsenal may fancy their chances of scoring against a Manchester United defence without Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Rafael, but they have their own problems in defensive areas.
Winning the midfield battle could be critical at Old Trafford and Arsenal arrive without both enforcers Alex Song and Emmanuel Frimpong because of suspension.
With Jack Wilshere also injured, Johan Djourou may be shuffled forward for a rare venture into midfield, with a game of this magnitude not normally an occasion for such risks playing people out of position.
Manchester United tried such a move with Ferdinand against Blackburn in the past, with the decision emphatically backfiring.
Alternatively, Arsenal may hand a start to young Frenchman Francis Coquelin, who gained some valuable first-team experience when sent on loan to Lorient last season.
Manchester United have no such concerns and can call on the experience of Ryan Giggs, the energy of Anderson, the passing of Michael Carrick, the youth and enthusiasm of Tom Cleverley or the hunger of Darren Fletcher, who is on the comeback from injury.
Arsenal do look slightly overpriced at 6/1 to beat Manchester United and in Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott they have match winners.
However, given their lack of experience in the key central midfield area, it is hard to look past a Manchester United win at Premier League odds of 1/2, especially given the impressive starts to the season of attacking trio Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Nani.