By Chris Harris
If the outcome of Arsenal's clash with Manchester United rested on reputations and experience, Arsène Wenger accepts that his team might as well not turn up. So it's just as well that the Frenchman expects Saturday's result to depend on different factors.
Sir Alex Ferguson will arrive at Emirates Stadium with a stellar cast at his disposal including Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and summer signing Dimitar Berbatov. In stark contrast Wenger's strike options consist of the 20-year-old Dane Nicklas Bendtner and a Mexican teenager with just one Arsenal start to his name - Carlos Vela.
As a result the 'experts' and the bookmakers are leaning towards an away win but Wenger begs to differ. At his pre-match press conference, the Arsenal manager insisted that experience does not necessarily bring success.
"You are right that if the result at the end of the season will be based on experience, we will go down," said Wenger, "because every single team has more experience than we have.
"But I don't believe that success is linked with experience. It is linked with desire, with talent, with intelligence. You can be intelligent at 18 or 20 and you can be stupid at 30.
"I believe we need a great team performance to stop them [United] from expressing their qualities because they are intelligent players with a lot of talent and we want to stop them.
"But I believe when you say Rooney, Ronaldo, Berbatov, Giggs, you think straight away that it is down more to our defending than trying to stop any given individual because any one of them can make a difference."
One man hoping to make a difference for Arsenal is Bendtner. Robin van Persie's suspension and Emmanuel Adebayor's injury have given the Danish striker a golden opportunity to make his mark in the first team. Wenger believes that Bendtner can prove his worth this weekend.
"I believe Nicklas is intelligent, he has strength, quality, good collective sense and is good in the air and on the ground. He is quick as well. That is plenty of qualities," said the Frenchman.Copyright 2017 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