Arsenal v Manchester United: Defeat for either side at the Emirates will see more 'crisis' talk

Neither side can afford another slip up if they are to meet their respective ambitions of Premier League glory or Champions League qualification

Arsenal will look to recover from their humiliating 5-1 defeat to Liverpool when they welcome Manchester United to the Emirates on Wednesday, in a match that could prove crucial for both teams in determining where their Premier League aspirations lie.

The Gunners’ title hopes took a serious blow on Saturday, as the Reds ran rampant to clock up a four-goal lead in under 20 minutes. In all seriousness, they were lucky to concede just four as Liverpool had another three clear-cut chances to score, and they were soon 5-0 down in the second-half before a late Mikel Arteta penalty gave them nothing more than a consolation.

The result meant that Chelsea leaped from third to first, given Manchester City’s failings at Norwich, and despite Arsenal still being well placed to continue their push for silverware for the first time in nearly a decade, they have shown signs recently that they could find the next two months a real struggle as they take on the best that both the Premier League and Europe has to offer.

Slightly lower down the table, United’s attempt to salvage a fourth-placed finish could have really done with a Liverpool loss, but they have far more problems at home to sort out before they can even think of making a late charge for Champions League qualification. The late Darren Bent equaliser in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Fulham saw United slip a worrying nine points behind their long-time rivals, and they are edging towards the point of no return – where even Europa League qualification could prove hard to come by.

A victory over the Gunners would send out a serious message that Moyes and his side are not done yet. The £37.1m addition of Juan Mata has looked a step in the right direction given his three assists in as many games, but the question remains whether he was the type of player United really needed. Further questions arose at Old Trafford on Sunday when Mata began the match on the wing, a position that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho decided he wouldn’t make the grade in.

History is on United’s side heading into the Emirates encounter though, as the Gunners have beaten the Red Devils just once in their last 13 attempts. However, as the club’s history may be on their side, Moyes’s history certainly isn’t. The Scot is yet to beat one of the so-called ‘big four’ (Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool) when on his travels, and the philosophy of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ doesn’t appear to have done his luck any good at all.

Should Liverpool secure an expected win at Fulham on Wednesday, a United defeat would leave them 12 points away from Champions League football next term, and when they slipped that many points behind the league leaders, talk of a title defence was quickly ended.

In effect, the match against Arsenal is one they simply cannot afford to lose, and with Arsene Wenger’s squad set to come out with a point to prove of their own, the fixture could prove to be a nervy affair. That’s not taking in the always frosty reception that former Arsenal captain Robin van Persie receives whenever he returns to north London, which always adds something to these games since the Dutchman made the switch in his personal hunt for silverware.

While Arsenal have been labelled a “big horse” in a two-and-a-half horse race (according to the ever-entertaining Mourinho and his “little horse league leaders”), they could end up falling short before they’ve even reached the last. It is not so farfetched to say that Arsenal could lose against United plus next month’s important fixtures against Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham, and immediately they would have let 15 points slip through their grasp since the Liverpool mauling and see their title hopes ended for another year.

Read more:
Moyes: We gave away a diabolical second goal
Ozil's disappearing act a sign that title talk doesn't add up
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot