Arsenal v Man Utd: can Martial consign Wenger to history?
The French teenager could become a symbol of the Arsenal manager’s inability to move with the times and rebuild his side
Could this be the year that the Arsenal, Manchester United rivalry is rekindled? The pair have not gone toe to toe in the title race for almost a decade and neither side has mounted a serious title challenge for the past two seasons, but with Louis van Gaal's side sitting on top of the table and the Gunners just three points behind could that be about to change?
The two teams lock horns on Sunday at the end of a hectic period, and the clash will be the seventh game in just three weeks for both sides.
There is no doubting which side goes into the game in better form. Arsenal have won three and lost three of their previous six games, while United have won five of their last six.
Another cause for optimism for United fans is Arsenal's home form. So far this season they have won just one of four games at the Emirates, been beaten twice by unfancied opposition (West Ham and Olympiakos) and scored a grand total of four goals.
The main talking point ahead of recent games between Arsenal and United is usually how their rivalry has dissipated down the years, but this game "feels like a genuine title clash", says Goal.com. "Arsene Wenger will know, for example, that his side must prove their credentials having already lost to Chelsea and drawn at home to Liverpool. For United, it is a first test against another member of last season’s top four."
The pressure on Wenger is growing after some poor performances from his side already this season, and one thing that could expose him still further is defeat at the hands of new Man United sensation Anthony Martial.
Louis van Gaal appears to have unearthed a diamond and if he sinks Arsenal it would seriously "embarrass [a] manager whose knowledge of Ligue 1 was once unparalleled", says Goal.com.
Martial has come to symbolise the difference between United and Arsenal, and Van Gaal and Wenger, says the Daily Telegraph. The £36m deal for an untested teenager was bold but "defines Louis van Gaal as someone who knows how to build a football team, someone who knows what it takes to get that that team to win... certain other managers are being left in the past," writes JJ Bull.
"Perhaps Arsene Wenger was right not to bid for the striker," he adds, but if Martial succeeds he will become "a symbol of Manchester United's power, Arsene Wenger's stagnation and Arsenal's failure to punish weakness".
But will Martial be able to humiliate the Gunners? He will be up against Gabriel, who will fill in for the injured Laurent Koscielny. And Sky Sports believes the French teenager may meet his match in the pacy defender.
"Martial will do well to find success when running at the Brazilian... Gabriel brings an aggressive, hands-on approach to defending and will be as physical as any defender to face Martial so far," says Sky.