Manchester United-Arsenal in clash of the sleeping giants

There was a meme making its rounds this morning, poking fun at Arsenal, which has not won the English Premier League since the 2003-04 season.

The meme had a picture of Wayne Rooney re-signing for Everton in 2017 with the caption: ‘Did you know? Rooney left Everton, got married, had three kids, played in three World Cups, won 16 trophies, went bald, had a hair transplant, became Manchester United’s all-time top scorer, returned to Everton … and Arsenal still hasn’t won another league title.’

Some have added that in that time, Everton has not won a single trophy!

It may be funny to some, but it is also the truth.

Arsenal has gone 16 seasons without regaining the title while United, which was dominant under Alex Ferguson, has not won a crown since he quit in 2013.

Yet, they remain two of the biggest names in England, and their clash on Monday (12.30am) is the highlight of this weekend’s Premier League.

Both are coming off victories in Europe with the Red Devils thrashing RB Leipzig 5-0 on the back of a Marcus Rashford hattrick while the Gunners blanked Dundalk 3-0.

But it is their domestic form which needs examining. Arsenal has played six times, winning three and losing just as many.

United has lost two of its opening five matches, winning two and drawing one.

Both those defeats came at home while the draw against Chelsea last week meant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team became the first United side since the 1972-73 season to fail to win any of its opening three home league matches.

It did brush aside RB Leipzig at Old Trafford in midweek and this has given Sha’arin Razali Wong confidence the Devils will register a home win.

“I’m no expert but I predict a 2-0 victory this weekend,” said the executive director of Blublack Productions.

“Our home form may not be great but I expect better things from them.

“I watched the highlights of the match against RB Leipzig. We should stick to the same line-up – except that Rashford should start the match.”

He added United’s defence has grown in strength recently with captain Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof finding their feet after a poor start to the season.

“Maguire was all over the place at the start of the season. Perhaps he was affected by off-field problems,” said Sha’arin who was the drummer of local rock band Black Rose, before carving a name as an actor and producer.

“He doesn’t deserve some of the brickbats the fans throw at him. We should support the players,” added Sha’arin, who is married to celebrity Yasmin Hani Richardson.

Sha’arin’s son, Noah, who turns seven in two weeks, predicted a 2-1 victory for United.

“(Bruno) Fernandes and (Edison) Cavani will score for United. (Alexandre) Lacazette will get Arsenal’s goal,” said Noah.

Separately, league leader Everton travels to Newcastle on Sunday (10pm), hoping to bounce back after losing for the first time last weekend.

After a fabulous start to the season, where it won seven consecutive matches – four in the league and three in the League Cup, the Toffees are winless in their last two.

Struggling Manchester City, which could only draw 1-1 with West Ham a week ago, faces Sheffield United, which is searching for its first win of the season.

Defending champion Liverpool hosts West Ham, looking to equal its 63-match unbeaten home record.

The Reds, however, may have to rely on 19-year-old Rhys Williams in the centre of defence, unless Jurgen Klopp decides to play skipper Jordan Henderson there. This is depending on Joel Matip’s fitness.

The club is already without Virgil van Dijk for the season while Fabinho could be out until late November.

Fixtures (Malaysian time)

SATURDAY
Wolves vs Crystal Palace (4am)
Sheffield United vs Manchester City (8.30pm)
Burnley vs Chelsea (11pm)

SUNDAY
Liverpool vs West Ham (1.30am)
Aston Villa vs Southampton (8pm)
Newcastle vs Everton (10pm)

MONDAY
Manchester United vs Arsenal (12.30am)
Tottenham vs Brighton (3.15am)

TUESDAY
Fulham vs West Brom (1.30am)
Leeds vs Leicester (4am)