Arsenal and Manchester United, the giants of English Football kick off the new year with the two sides facing each other in an English Premier League. To be honest though, is the term Giants really synonymous to them anymore? Based on their history, yes, but to associate the term on recent form could provoke a pause.
In the mid-2000s, a battle between the Gunners and the Red Devils used to be about who titles and to determine who the real leaders are of English football. But in the past few years, their face-offs have merely been restricted to who is the superior among the two sides. And on Wednesday, as the two sides kick off the first football match of the new year, it may be time for the one-time giants to wake up and live up to the moniker of an Arsenal-United game.
The lack of titles provide a clear picture. United, since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 have not won a major league title. Whereas, Arsenal last won the Premier League during the 2004-05 season. Three of their 13 FA Cup tiles have been won in the last six years, but even that took a toll last season with the departure of Arsene Wenger.
The current season of EPL is turning out to be even worse for both sides. With Arsenal are languishing at the 12th position, while United have been better, currently places sixth, just a point behind Champions League qualification. Arsenal’s woeful form led to the firing of Spanish manager Unai Emery and getting in former midfielder Mikel Arteta. Under him, the Gunners drew with Bournemouth before losing to Chelsea 1-2, but Arteta is keen on starting the new year on a confident note.
“We are the biggest football club in England, and we have to play a little bit with that arrogance, that belief,” Arteta told Sky Sports, urging the club’s fans to make the Emirates a fortress again.
“This stadium has to create fear again. I used to hate coming here as an opponent, and we need to use that power. The opponent must be uncomfortable playing here. It was incredible to play here as an Arsenal player. It’s one of the most beautiful, exciting stadiums in the world. When this crowd gets going, and you feel them right behind the team, it’s an incredible place.”
United are coming off wins against Newcastle and Burnley with forwards Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford combining to score five goals. And the likely addition of Paul Pogba, who was sidelined for three months due to injury. That said, United will be wary of the fact that they have lost three of their previous four Premier League games at The Emirates. Besides, no team has won more Premier League games on New Year’s Day than Arsenal, who have emerged victorious nine times.