Injury hit Arsenal to take on Man U

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Manchester United goes into Sunday's Premier League showdown with Arsenal boosted by yet another cup final appearance while the Gunners limp into the match with

Updated: January 29, 2010 18:28 IST
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Manchester United goes into Sunday's Premier League showdown with Arsenal boosted by yet another cup final appearance while the Gunners limp into the match with more injury woes.

United beat neighbor Manchester City 3-1 on Wednesday to set up a League Cup final against Aston Villa while Arsenal came out of its 0-0 draw at Aston Villa with injuries to defender Thomas Vermaelen and striker Eduardo da Silva.

With Chelsea back at the top, with a game in hand and facing a Burnley side which has dropped into the relegation zone, both United and Arsenal badly need the three points when they meet at the Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea regained the lead with a 3-0 victory over Birmingham on Wednesday and is a point ahead of United with Arsenal a further point behind.

That means Arsenal could wind up five points behind Chelsea and four behind United if the top two teams win. Then the Gunners have to face Chelsea and Liverpool in the league.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Vermaelen was doubtful for Sunday's game and ruled out Eduardo. Vermaelen went off with a leg injury while Eduardo has a hamstring problem.

"There is no fracture in Thomas' leg but his injury still has to be assessed," Wenger said yesterday. "There is still a good chance he will not play on Sunday.

"Eduardo ... will be out for one week. He will not make Man United but he might make Chelsea."

Vermaelen and Eduardo have joined Robin van Persie, Johan Djourou, Kieran Gibbs, Fran Merida and Abou Diaby on the Arsenal injury list.

Now it looks like Wenger, who is proud of the young team he is building, will have to send out a central defensive partnership with a combined age of 67 against United on Sunday. Sol Campbell has rejoined the club at age 35 and is likely to partner 32-year-old William Gallas.

Ferguson, who has won 11 Premier Leagues, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues during his time at Old Trafford has now taken defending champion United to his seventh League Cup final, a record for one manager.

"We'll assess (the final) when we get to it," he said. "We've got some important games in the league and the Champions League to look forward to now. Arsenal on Sunday at the Emirates is a big game for us, we need to win that game."

Chelsea is likely to field striker Didier Drogba at Burnley now that the Ivory Coast striker has returned from the African Cup of Nations. But captain John Terry is not assuming it will be three easy points.

"At Burnley on Saturday we have to win where Manchester United have lost and Arsenal have drawn," he said. "When we play Arsenal at home (Feb. 7) wins against Burnley and Hull, if we can achieve them, would have opened a healthy gap for us. But to achieve that, it's got to be champion form."

The top three are eight points clear of Tottenham, which goes to eighth place Birmingham on Saturday. Fifth place Liverpool hosts Bolton and Manchester City hopes to bounce back from its League Cup loss at United by beating last place Portsmouth on Sunday.

Despite gaining a point against Arsenal, Villa is back in seventh and has not scored in its last four league games.

Manager Martin O'Neill, whose team visits Fulham on Saturday, was angry at Wenger's comments after Wednesday's 0-0 draw that Villa had played an unattractive long-ball game to sidestep Arsenal's talented midfield.

"If that is what he saw tonight, well that is a ridiculous statement," O'Neill said. "He has made a few ridiculous statements in his time here (in England) and that is as good as any. That is an appalling insult."

In Saturday's other games, West Ham hosts Blackburn and Everton goes to Wigan.

Newcastle has a three-point lead over Nottingham Forest at the top of the League Championship after both teams won their midweek games. Newcastle goes to Leicester on Saturday while Forest visits neighbor Derby.

Third place West Bromwich Albion has dropped off the pace with eight points to make up on Newcastle and five on Forest and has a home game against Sheffield United.

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