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All Guns Blazing: Arsenal must triumph with United back to shaky 70s form

14:18 19 November 2014

Manchester United

Manchester United's Robin van Persie. Picture: Nick Potts

PA Archive/Press Association Images

In our weekly Arsenal fans column, Layth Yousif says the Gunners must capitalise while history is repeating itself for Manchester United.

My first Arsenal vs Manchester United match was May 2, 1983. The Gunners won 3-0 in front of a Highbury crowd of 23,602, with a rare goal from David O’Leary and two from Brian Talbot.

Led by the now-disgraced Ron Atkinson, the Red Devils also had Remi Moses sent off late on to complete a miserable day for the Mancunians.

How times change. Or do they?

This Saturday we face a Manchester United side still reeling from the ‘aftershock’ – as Ryan Giggs put it – of a legendary manager departing Old Trafford.

For all their success of the last three decades, make no mistake: this United side is a team in transition. Parallels are being drawn with the early 70s.

David Moyes was the equivalent of Wilf McGuinness, who stepped in after Busby retired in ‘69. He didn’t last long as United quickly lost the heroes of their European Cup-winning side. Frank O’Farrell fared no better as United slipped inexorably towards relegation under Tommy Docherty.

Disciplinarian Louis van Gaal admitted himself it may take three years for him to turn the situation around. If United fail to attain a top four place, having spent £150 million on a lopsided team, just how much leeway will the abrasive Dutchman have?

Which brings me to an Arsenal forward who was a hero – only to leave for United and become vilified for moving. But enough about Frank Stapleton – I wonder how Robin van Persie feels? Was it really worth betraying Gooners worldwide for one single Premier League medal?

Arsenal can add to these questions by winning on Saturday. Yet, from beating United regularly during the first ‘Wenger era’, we struggle to do so at all these days. Ironically, if we don’t pick up three points on Saturday, voices will again be raised querying our own manager.

How times change.

I’ll be doing a book signing of Arsene Wenger’s 50 Defining Fixtures at the ever-excellent Gunners Pub, 204 Blackstock Road on Saturday from 2pm to 4pm. Hope to see you there and we can talk men like David O’Leary and Brian Talbot.

Will we have new heroes from this Saturday to talk about 30 years from now? It’s certainly a thought to get us excited – ‘What d’you say?’

Follow me @laythy29

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