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Jon Riley 30th Jan 2010 - 16:42

Red hot Rooney to shoot down the Gunners?

Arsenal entertain their great rivals Manchester United at the Emirates this weekend in one of the biggest matches of the Premier League season.

The Gunners head into this vital game as slight favourites with the bookmakers at 8/5 compared to the 17/10 on offer for United. This slender edge afforded to Arsene Wenger's men is duly in part to their imperious home form this season, only Chelsea have been able to leave the Emirates with three points.

The draw, which would do neither team much good considering the terrific form of Chelsea, is priced at 9/4. A Cesc Fabregas equaliser (first or last goal 15/2) earned a 2-2 draw for Arsenal in 2007 and a similar scoreline would see odds of 12/1.

Their form recently though is not quite as impressive having won only two of their previous 5 matches, losing once and drawing twice. This run of disappointing results shouldn't count for too much as Wenger's troops will be highly motivated for a game where a win would take them above their rivals and signal their intentions as genuine title contenders.

Sol Campbell is on standby to replace Thomas Vermaelen if the Belgian international cannot win his race against time to be fit for the game.

United will travel to north London in buoyant mood after beating local rivals City in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final at Old Trafford on Wednesday. From United's last 5 fixtures they've played out 3 wins, a loss and a draw. The club hasn't performed particularly well away from Old Trafford this season though, losing away to Liverpool, Manchester City, Fulham and Chelsea.

Sir Alex Ferguson has no new injury worries ahead of this Super Sunday clash. However, Rio Ferdinand will be absent as he is starting a four match ban after having failed with his appeal against a violent conduct charge for his 'coming together' with Craig Fagan. Nemanja Vidic is expected to replace him.

Despite Arsenal's favourites tag I feel that the in-form Wayne Rooney could prove the difference and be the catalyst for a United victory. The two teams last met at the end of August in a pulsating game at Old Trafford in which United, courtesy of a Rooney penalty and a Diaby own goal came out on top by 2-1; despite Andrey Arshavin earlier scoring a beauty to put the Gunners a goal up.

The Red Devils to triumph by that scoreline is priced at 15/2, incidentally four out of the last six meetings beside the sides have ended with this score.

If you feel that Rooney can continue his stunning run of goal scoring form then odds of 5/1 first goal scorer or 5/4 anytime goal scorer could be very appealing. The man from Merseyside will cause the Arsenal defence all sorts of problems and if Sol Campbell does return at centre back, Rooney's pace could be key to getting in behind the ex-England man.

With over 175 markets available for the match, an outside bet could be the Total Goals markets. Over 3 goals in the game is priced 5/2 so when you consider that Arsenal are averaging 3 goals a game at home this season and Manchester United 2 away from home, there could be some serious value here.


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