Premier League champions Manchester United are getting ready to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon and with the league title already in the bag, the Red Devils may find motivation hard to come by.
The fixture marks Robin van Persie’s return to the club where he spent eight years as a player - the last of which, he was the Gunners' captain and the Premier League’s leading scorer, earning himself the golden boot at the end of the season.
With Manchester United only playing for the record of most points in a 38 game season and Arsenal fighting for the right to play in the Champions League next season it might turn out to be a game where United lack the desire and drive to win.
Here, we look at five reasons that Arsenal can beat Manchester United this afternoon.
1) Title Hangover
Manchester United have been celebrating their title triumph all week since their emphatic 3-0 victory over Aston Villa – the players have been partying into the night ever since. With the United stars revelling all hours of the day and night, the celebrations will most definitely leave some residual side-effects come the match on Sunday. With players like Ryan Giggs, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Anderson, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Wayne Rooney still partying after their title win United should be ready to face a tough task ahead of their trip to Arsenal.
With Arsenal preparing for the game all week and mental, physical and emotional strength might turn out to be the deciding factor on Van Persie’s return, which adds to that the challenge of the champions Arsenal might just be ready to spoil United’s party.
2) Robin van Persie’s return
With many anticipating a Van Persie goal and his potential celebration or lack of, Arsenal would have been galvanized and would be itching to ruin their former star’s party mood.
It will have hurt to see their former main-man win the title with United and bring it back down to North London to rub it in. Also the fact that the Gunners have now honoured the tradition to perform a guard of honour for United will only sting further.
Arsenal will be going for Manchester United’s throat when the game kicks off – Van Persie’s departure left the club in turmoil and a big hole in the heart of the team and it’ll be filled with fire come Sunday. The fact he returns as a title-winner will only add more fuel.
3) Pressure off United
Alex Ferguson's side are under no pressure, and could quite easily relax as they head to the Emirates. Just look at Swansea City, they won the League Cup and haven't been the same since.
The United manager has talked about the team vying to break Chelsea’s record for the highest points tally in a season but with the all the celebrations afoot complacency might be setting in. United having reclaimed the title from City in sensational style, are likely to take their eyes off the ball.
4) Pressure on Arsenal
The Pressure is on Arsenal to win all their remaining matches and keep a hold of a Champions League position, this being a must-win game for the Gunners they will definitely give it their all from the onset.
Arsenal are in a delightful vein of form and know they must continue it throughout the remainder of the season.
5) No Oliver Giroud
Due to Olivier Giroud’s suspension, Arsene Wenger might elect to play Lukas Podolski or Theo Walcott as his centre-forward and, if he does, it’ll be an opportunity for one of the two men to claim the spot as a regular centre forward for the team.
Podolski has been a peripheral figure – on the bench or on the left wing but is widely regarded as the most clinical and gifted finisher of anyone in Arsenal’s ranks. In fact, his international record (44 goals for Germany) is superior to both Wayne Rooney’s for England and Van Persie’s for the Netherlands. Podolski will certainly be hungry, to say the least.
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