Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson will give his pre-match view and you can get his post-match verdict in our Talking Tactics feature on Arsenal Player.

Arsène Wenger and his side face Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Sunday so, to find out more, we also asked journalist James Robson for his thoughts and analysis.

Stewart Robson

STEWART ROBSON
"Manchester United are dangerous going forward but they are still trying to get the right blend at the back. Patrice Evra's attacking play is now better than his defending, Rio Ferdinand doesn't possess the same pace as he once did and Jonny Evans has made too many mistakes over the last two years to be considered totally dependable. Excellent youngsters Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have had a drop in form as all youngsters do but they will be top players for United for years to come. If Arsenal can get enough possession in forward areas, they can cause United plenty of problems."

Scouting Report - Tactics

JAMES ROBSON, MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS
“You would say it’s been an up-and-down season so far because the defeats United have had have been bad ones, but if you look at their form consistency-wise, they have been very consistent. In terms of points it has one of their best at this stage of the season since the Premier League began, so it is an odd one. If you spoke to the fans, they would say it has been hit and miss, but in the league you couldn’t really complain – even after the defeats to Blackburn and Newcastle – as they’re right up there at the top.

"People always say, ‘we’ve got loads of injuries’ but United’s injury record this season has been incredible really. They’re without crucial players like Nemanja Vidic; they haven’t had a right back all season; and it can’t be underplayed how important Tom Cleverley was to the start United made – he really did fill the Paul Scholes void, so once him and Anderson got injured it created a big hole in central midfield.

"In terms of the goalkeeping position, that has become an issue - although Fergie has tried desperately hard not to make it one. He thinks the press have been too quick to jump on David de Gea’s back, but I wouldn’t agree with that. The fact is he’s a young guy, he’s replacing one of the best goalkeepers that the club has ever had in Edwin van der Sar and he is the second-most expensive goalkeeper in history.

"He also made some rudimentary mistakes in his first few games, so it is right that questions were asked. It looked like he had overcome that, but his part in Blackburn’s third goal recently was poor. The problem is that Anders Lindegaard has looked good when he replaces De Gea for the odd game, but against Manchester City his part in the second goal wasn’t great. But it looks like he will be given the role for a little while.

"The one thing about Arsenal v United games is that they are often exciting. Often in the big games, it is very cagey as teams are more afraid to lose than wanting to win, but I don’t think that’s the case in Arsenal v United matches. Often United go with a five-man midfield in the big matches, but I think Danny Welbeck is playing so well that he will partner Wayne Rooney up front. They will go for it, hopefully it’ll be another thriller. I’m going for a 3-1 win for United.”

    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 20 Jan 2012