LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will delve into the depths of his squad for the visit to Arsenal in the Premier League on Saturday, as an injury crisis engulfs Old Trafford.
So often it has been Arsene Wenger cursing his luck after key players have been crocked ahead of big matches but this time it is United who could be missing up to 12 squad players, including goalkeeper David De Gea, at the Emirates Stadium.
United are exposed at the back, and with four first-team defenders possibly missing, Dutchman Van Gaal might have to call up teenagers Patrick McNair and Tyler Blackett to keep former team mate Danny Welbeck at bay.
England striker Welbeck has been in fine form since his 16 million pounds (US$25.06 million) move to Arsenal in September, scoring 10 goals for club and country.
Arsenal suffered two disappointing results before the international break, letting leads slip to draw 3-3 at home to Anderlecht in the Champions League and going down 2-1 at Swansea City in the league.
“We have two games against Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund at home and if we get the crowd with us from the start, and get the results, then it will be a very different story again,” Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta said.
Arsenal are currently sixth in the table with 17 points; United a place behind with one point fewer.
Leaders Chelsea host West Bromwich Albion earlier on Saturday looking to extend their four-point lead on second-placed Southampton, who visit Aston Villa on Monday.
Beleaguered Liverpool, in 11th after taking a paltry 14 points from their opening 11 games, visit struggling Crystal Palace on Sunday. Brendan Rodgers’ team will have painful memories of relinquishing a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Selhurst Park last season as the title slipped away from them.
That draw proved costly for the eventual runners-up, but a win at the same ground this season would provide a timely boost.
Fifth-placed Swansea City visit stuttering champions Manchester City on Saturday, while fourth-placed West Ham United face a difficult trip to Everton.
Meanwhile, Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud is fit to face Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday after recovering from a broken leg, manager Arsene Wenger announced on Thursday.
The France international, 28, was provisionally ruled out until next year after breaking his leg against Everton in August, but he is now ready to return.