Arsenal must bounce back against Manchester United if they want to be taken seriously

Wenger

Arsenal need three points versus Manchester United after recent defeats to Chelsea and Olympiakos.

Arsenal are in desperate need of three points on Sunday if they want to be taken as a serious Premier League title contender.

Although Arsene Wenger's side are only three points off the top ahead of their clash with Manchester United at the Emirates this weekend, back-to-back defeats in the UEFA Champions League have left many questioning the manager.

The Gunners have suffered shock defeats to both Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos and will be on the verge of elimination at best if they don't take anything from their next two games, home and away to Bayern Munich.

Many Arsenal fans have questioned Wenger over the past few seasons – failing to win the Premier League in any of the last 11 years and not making any impact in the Champions League since reaching the final in 2006.

A stuttering start in the Premier League this season hasn't helped – beaten at home by West Ham United, held by Liverpool and losing to rivals Chelsea.

Wenger can be thankful for Manchester City's slip ups over the past fortnight, as well as Chelsea making their worst-ever start to a season under Jose Mourinho.

So will Arsenal bounce back versus the Premier League leaders this weekend?

The numbers don't make for great reading for Wenger. He has lost 10 of the last 16 meetings with Manchester United, which included losing this fixture 2-1 last season, with the Gunners' goal a 90th minute consolation.

Wenger's record in the big four clashes over the past few seasons has been poor, too.

Injuries for once favour Arsenal. Although they could be without their star centre-back, Lauren Koscielny, Wenger has the same squad that he had available on the opening day of the season.

Meanwhile, United have a lot of issues to contend with in defence. Luke Shaw is a long-term absentee and Marcos Rojo is also out of this weekend's game. Antonio Valencia picked up a knock midweek, but should be good to go.

The Ecuadorian has started the last two games at right-back, with Matteo Darmian switching across to the left to cover the injury issues. Phil Jones made a late substitute appearance in last weekend's 3-0 thrashing of Sunderland – his first appearance of the season.

Manchester United are the form side currently and despite conceding a couple of soft goals in recent weeks, they are capable of setting up defensively and hitting Arsenal on the break.

Sir Alex Ferguson, and even David Moyes showed how to beat Arsenal by doing just that in seasons past. Arsenal are vulnerable to the counter-attack and will be even more so should Koscielny not be fit in time.

Per Mertesacker would likely be his replacement, and the 31-year-old simply doesn't have the pace to catch up with the likes of Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial. Gabriel Paulista looks like a liability to giving away cheap free kicks and being sent off.

One player out-of-form for United, Wayne Rooney, always seems to have a big game versus the North London club.

With concerns at the back for both sides and with them scoring a combined 12 goals over the past week (Premier League and Champions League), may we see an enthralling, end-to-end battle between these two?

However Wenger plays it, his side simply cannot afford to lose another big game...

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