Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gunners Welcome Back African STAR

Arsenal will welcome back Cameroon midfielder Alex Song from international duty for the visit of Manchester United on Sunday.

Centre-back Thomas Vermaelen has a small chance to feature despite picking up a leg problem in midweek. Striker Eduardo (hamstring) and midfielder Abou Diaby (calf) are, however, out injured.

Veteran former captain Sol Campbell could be in line to make his first home appearance for the club while Nicklas Bendtner, back after a three-month lay-off because of groin surgery, is pressing for a start.

Samir Nasri, who had been out with a hamstring problem, is also back in contention while Emmanuel Eboue has returned from the African Nations Cup.

Robin van Persie (ankle), Kieran Gibbs (foot), and Johan Djourou (knee) are long-term absentees.

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas enjoys facing Manchester United more than any other Premier League team.

"Manchester United surpasses all the other matches for me,'' Fabregas told The Sun. "As a player it is the one game I really look forward to playing in every season.

"Chelsea is really good, Liverpool too and Tottenham is special, particularly for the fans who get really excited.

"But if you have to pick one game from 38 then playing against Man U is the game.

"For me it is definitely the most special game to play in the Premier League."

Nemanja Vidic is set to replace Rio Ferdinand in the Manchester United line-up.

Ferdinand misses out as he starts a four-game suspension, the FA disciplinary panel deciding his appeal against a violent conduct charge for an attack on Hull's Craig Fagan last weekend was "frivolous''.

But Vidic is ready to step into the breach after a six-game absence with a nerve problem down the right side of his leg.

United head to Arsenal on Sunday with Sir Alex Ferguson believing the top end of the Barclays Premier League has finally split into two.

Heading out of the Christmas period, seven teams could plausibly have claimed to retain some involvement in the Premier League title race.

Now that number is down to three. As Aston Villa, Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool have continued to drop points, Chelsea, United and Arsenal are piecing together unbeaten runs that have started to ease them clear.

"It looks to me that there is some consistency coming from the top three,'' Ferguson said.

"There are more points being dropped by those trying to get the fourth position than those in the top three now, which makes it very competitive. Fourth looks like a league of its own. You cannot dismiss any of them.

"But I don't think anything is settled. We are not certain to win the league. Neither are Chelsea or Arsenal. But we have all got a chance.''