Welcome to Talking Heads.

Before and after every first-team fixture, our MatchDay Show guest and an Arsenal blogger will have their say on the game.

Arsenal took on Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday and our Talking Heads for this game were Dan Roebuck and James McNicholas of Gunnerblog.

Dan Roebuck - Arsenal Live

If you didn't see the game and were only told the scoreline you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a close encounter. Disappointingly it was anything but. As Arsène Wenger said, Man United deserved to win and their victory never really looked in doubt from the moment Robin van Persie took advantage of Thomas Vermaelen's mistake.

Mikel Arteta usually pulls the midfield strings but Wayne Rooney dropped deep to deny him space and Santi Cazorla was stifled when he received the ball in central areas. As a result there was little or no service for Olivier Giroud. Indeed Arsenal only came into it when they were two goals down and a man down thanks to the introduction of Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin. I expected a much tighter game - as we saw when Arsenal faced Man City earlier this season - but it wasn't to be. Now another very tough away trip awaits in Germany.

I'll start with one confident prediction: it won't finish 8-2 this time. Arsenal are a much more cohesive unit than the one that arrived at Old Trafford last season depleted by injury, illness and suspension. What's more they have arguably their first-choice midfield available with Jack Wilshere returning to slot in ahead of Mikel Arteta and behind Santi Cazorla. Olivier Giroud is going from strength to strength on the evidence of his performance at Reading and I guess the only issue is whether Arsène Wenger opts for a conservative option - Aaron Ramsey - or a more adventurous one - Theo Walcott - on the right.

Man United are very strong on the flanks and they will look to exploit Andre Santos, who was given a tough time by Jefferson Farfan when Schalke won at Emirates Stadium. Antonio Valencia is just as quick and direct so Lukas Podolski will have to get back and cover his full back. If Arsenal can keep United's wide men quiet they can get a positive result - if they don't, it could be a difficult afternoon.

Blog - Gunnerblog

While the scoreline was close, the gulf between the two sides was worryingly wide. Arsenal could and perhaps should have lost this game by three or four goals, and can thank some excellent goalkeeping from Vito Mannone, a wayward penalty from Wayne Rooney, and a sumptuous stoppage time strike from Santi Cazorla for putting a flattering spin on an otherwise comprehensive defeat. Robin van Persie's goal was predictable, but few would have expected it to arrive with the Dutchman's first touch of the game. From that point on it wasn't much of a contest, and after going 2-0 down to a Patrice Evra header, the sending off of Jack Wilshere proved to be the final nail in Arsenal's coffin. Just over a month ago Arsenal were in Manchester, outplaying Manchester City and were unlucky to come away with just a 1-1 draw. This time, against a side of similar calibre, we looked worryingly ordinary.

It's a significant blow that neither Wojciech Szczesny nor Kieran Gibbs are fit to boost Arsenal's back-line. In recent games, their respective deputies, Vito Mannone and Andre Santos, have looked a little out of form, and United will doubtless seek to exploit any weakness. Going forward, things look more positive. Jack Wilshere is back, and Olivier Giroud played like a lion at Reading. With Gervinho injured, surely the Frenchman is the only choice to lead the line. There will be clamour for the inclusion of Theo Walcott, but I wonder if 120 minutes of midweek action prohibits him from starting. There will inevitably be a lot of focus on Robin van Persie's first meeting with his former club, but there are bigger issues at stake here: after the infamous 8-2 in this fixture this year, this game is all about Arsenal's pride. A positive result would be great, but our recent form both at Old Trafford and in the last few games makes that look a little unlikely. If Arsenal are to suffer defeat, much focus will be on the manner of it. A display such as the one we saw last year won't be tolerated.

* The views expressed in Talking Heads do not necessarily reflect those of Arsenal Football Club or Arsenal Broadband Ltd

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5 Nov 2012