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Rupert Wyman 28th Aug 2009 - 20:54

Arsenal can take advantage of Man Utd’s defensive problems

Arsenal make the trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the first all-Big Four Premier League clash of the season. The Gunners will be boosted following their qualification to the Champions League group stage in midweek following their win over Celtic.

How much will their midweek exertions have taken out of them? While Arsenal were eliminating the Scottish side Man Utd were resting in preparation for this weekend's big match.

It is probably a good job Man Utd didn't have a match as Sir Alex Ferguson's side are struggling for  defensive personnel. Serbian colossus Nemanja Vidic only returned to the side for last week's 5-0 hammering of Wigan and he is likely to be partnered by Jonny Evans at the heart of the defence once again.

However, the Northern Irishman is struggling with an injury himself and playing through the pain barrier. Other options for Fergie include the erratic Wes Brown who has only just recovered from yet another injury.

Rio Ferdinand will be absent for a further couple of weeks at least and young Brazilian Rafael is still missing as is number one goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

These problems lead me towards the away win which is priced at 5/2 as it looks a far better proposition at the prices than the 23/20 about a home win or the 11/5 for the draw.

Man Utd won only one match against another Big Four side last season and Sir Alex has spoken about the need to improve their results against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

United are of course no mugs but their one impressive result so far, 5-0 against Wigan, doesn't mean all their problems are solved, certainly not to the extent where they can be judged as clear favourites to beat Arsenal.

Indeed will the lack of Ronaldo in the Red Devils' team ever be solved? The Portuguese winger was of course the star of the show as Man Utd knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League last season and one man who will be happier than most to see the back of him will be Arsenal's left-back Gael Clichy.

Man Utd's indifferent form at the start of the season combined with injuries and Arsenal's stunning start makes the away win look good value.

If you are not completely convinced then perhaps the double chance market with a draw or an Arsenal win (67/100) is the way to go. The Gunners have only lost one match in their last 26 in the Premier League and are without a loss in 13 on the road.

A change in system for Arsene Wenger's side this term makes Arsenal harder to beat as it is 4-3-3 with the ball and 4-5-1 without it. Before the Gunners had a bit of a soft underbelly but with more men in midfield plus with Alex Song performing the anchor role there is more steel about them.

At the same time the change in formation has not detracted the team away from their fluid football which is by far the best to watch in the top flight.

With an attacking trio of Robin van Persie and Andrei Arshavin as well as one of Eduardo or Nicklas Bendtner then they should cause Man Utd's defence plenty of problems.

If Eduardo is picked ahead of Bendtner which let's be honest he should as he is a far superior player then he could be the one to back at 11/4 to score at any point during the match.

The Croatian was the centre of attention on Wednesday, and indeed after the match, for his antics to win a penalty, but he should be fully focussed on the game and one thing you know with him if he gets a chance he will more than likely take it.

For the home side Wayne Rooney is the obvious choice at 6/4, but last week Dimitar Berbatov was starting to show up in a United shirt and he could be a better pick at 15/8.

All these great attackers on the same pitch then goals should be expected. Arsenal have scored 40 goals in their last 13 Premier League matches and 14 in the last three, therefore the selection of over 2 goals at 8/11 in the total match goals market could be a good bet.

Missing for Arsenal will be star man and captain Cesc Fabregas, but even without the Spanish maestro the Gunners look well placed for the win at Old Trafford to make it three wins out of three in the Premier League.

Join us to bet In-Play on a wide range of markets from the first whistle to the last, the perfect accompaniment to watching the match live on Sky Sports  1 from 17:15.

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