Arsenal v Manchester United: 5 key battles

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All eyes in the Premier League will be on the Emirates Stadium tonight as Arsenal welcome Manchester United to North London.

Here, we look at five key battles that are set to play out this evening and could have a decisive say on the outcome of the game:

Arsene Wenger V David Moyes

The battle of the bosses. Moyes is coming under terrible pressure from supporters and pundits alike following his dismal first season in charge at Old Trafford and he will surely be getting desperate to prove to his considerable list of doubters that he has the right credentials for the job.

Wenger, meanwhile, must have been absolutely basking in the glow of apologetic supporters following Arsenal's great 2013/14 campaign, yet needs to ensure that his side are able to suitably overcome that blip and

Mikel Arteta v Wayne Rooney

As Manchester United's biggest attacking threat, Rooney will look to wreak havoc for Arsenal by dropping off slightly deeper and drifting seamlessly in that corridor between midfield and attack.

In the absence of combative Frenchman Mathieu Flamini, the job of attempting to shackle and nulify Rooney's threat is likely to fall upon Arteta. Given that he is not really a defensive midfielder by trade, however, it is a task he could well struggle with.

Laurent Koscielny/Per Mertesacker v Robin van Persie

Given that it is almost certain that Robin van Persie will lead the line for Manchester United on Wednesday night, Arsenal's previously solid centre-back pairing of Koscielny and Mertesacker are likely to know exactly what they are dealing with.

While, as former teammates of the Dutchman, they should know all about Van Persie's game and talent, that doesn't make him any easier to stop.

Indeed Van Persie, who moved from Arsenal to Manchester United during the summer of 2012 and was absolutely pivotal during Sir Alex Ferguson's final season as manager, notched the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Red Devils over his former club at Old Trafford in November.

Olivier Giroud v Nemanja Vidic

At the other end of the pitch, Serbian powerhouse Vidic - who has announced his intention to leave Manchester United when his contract expires at the end of the season - should have his hands full with Giroud.

The physical Frenchman has become arguably the most crucial component of Arsenal's title push, with Wenger only able to call upon the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Yaya Sanogo in his absence.

Vidic was particularly poor during the draw with Fulham on Sunday and he will want to prove that he is still very much committed to the United cause despite his impending exit.

Mesut Ozil v Darren Fletcher

Despite initially earning rave reviews for his quick impact at the Emirates after his summer switch from Real Madrid, Ozil has attracted criticism of late for his apparent tendency to go missing in some of the biggest games.

While the German playmaker certainly did not play well against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, no-one in Arsenal yellow came away from that particular fixtures with their heads held high.

On Wednesday he has the chance to prove that he is capable of performing on the biggest stage. Manchester United, who will likely partner Michael Carrick with Darren Fletcher in that holding midfield area, will look to the Scot - who has shown admirable bravery and resilience to successfully return from such a debilitating illness - to keep Ozil quiet.

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Robin Van Persie
Premier League
Manchester United

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