By Chris Harris
Arsenal fans will never forget the night their team clinched the Premier League trophy at Old Trafford. Seven years on from Wiltord and all that, Manchester United can turn the tables.
Sir Alex Ferguson's team need just one point on Saturday to kick off another title party of their own. And while 70,000-plus let their hair down at Old Trafford, Arsenal will be the reluctant guests, nursing a drink in the corner before slipping away quietly.
But you have to hand it to United. They have given their title rivals the odd glimmer of hope - trailing in recent games against Wigan, Tottenham and Aston Villa - but every time the champions have found a way to win. They will be hard to stop again next season.
We spoke to Stuart Mathieson of the Manchester Evening News ahead of this weekend's potential title clincher. Read on for his take on the Carlos Tevez affair, how the class of 2009 compares to its predecessors and the chance to equal Liverpool's title record.
THE STORY SO FAR
"United came back at Wigan in midweek to pick up three vital points and they have done that so often this season. For all their entertainment value, their great football and great players, you have to have that resilience. They have it in spades and they’re absolutely wonderful when their backs are against the wall. When they’re not playing particularly well they’ll re-group, put it behind them and get on with it. They have done that so many times this season and they’re wonderful at it. For me, above anything else, that is what puts them above other teams."
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
"Sir Alex Ferguson keeps saying it’s not about equalling Liverpool’s tally of 18 titles but the fact is, when he took over at Man United, the benchmark were Liverpool. He had Liverpool absolutely rammed down his throat in those days and they were the ones he set a target to topple. When you think, at that point, Liverpool would have been 11 titles ahead of Man United. He has whittled that down now and, having made so much of the Liverpool thing, I can’t believe that he’s not absolutely swelling with pride over this one.
"How good is the current team? It’s definitely there near the top. If you’re talking about No 1 to 11 I don’t think there is an awful lot to choose between this best XI and the 1999 best XI and probably the 1994 one too. But when you’re talking in terms of squad strength in depth I don’t think anything in the past has come near to this one. We’ve seen the examples of that this season when the manager has had to freshen things up. It never seems to weaken the side. I certainly think this is the best squad but best team? I still say it would be on the toss of a coin."
MAN OF THE MOMENT
"Carlos Tevez's future is up in the air and it's a tough one to call, I must admit. From what we know Man United are locked into this deal which they agreed originally; they had to pay around about £26million this summer to make the deal permanent. They agreed £32million and they have paid £3million per season so far. As we know it, he’s locked into a £26million deal – that’s the fee. But the rumour is that the club thinks it’s a bit too high now and they’re offering less money and that’s what will be the sticking point. That’s why he might go. I don’t think Fergie will want him to go and neither do the fans. £26million? It’s a little bit extravagant in this credit-crunch era but all in all I think United have to weigh up what he offers them. I hate to sit on the fence but it’s a very difficult one to call at the moment."
IMPRESSIONS OF ARSENAL
"I can’t see anything other than a home win on Saturday to be honest. I love Arsenal and the way they play but I don’t think they’ve quite got it at the moment – there’s something missing. I think Arsenal are missing a Tony Adams in defence and a Patrick Vieira in midfield – that’s not asking much is it!? But I do think that’s what they’re missing – some big experienced characters in there. But I love their football and the way they play but when it came to the crunch in the Champions League Semi-Final I must admit I was disappointed in them. Because of that and because they have nothing to play for now, I don’t see them putting up a great fight at Old Trafford. United only need the point but I think they’ll get the victory.
"Arsenal won the title at Old Trafford in 2002 and Wayne Rooney has said this could be 'revenge' but I don’t know about that. It’s so long ago now and I don’t see why it would bother Rooney too much. I think revenge is the kind of thing can only be drawn from this season but I don’t think anything will bother them too much."Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 15 May 2009