Manchester United’s 2-1 win at Anfield earlier in the season was shrouded with controversy as a late Robin van Persie strike ensured the visitors left with all three points. The major point of discussion was a coming together between Jonjo Shelvey and Jonny Evans in which the Reds midfielder was dismissed.
Van Persie’s winner arrived from the penalty spot in the 81st minute to continue the trend of late goals in this fixture. Last season’s two league meetings between these rivals arrived in the 80th and 81st minute respectively. Even United’s FA Cup clashes with Liverpool have involved late strikes and Dirk Kuyt’s winner last year came in the 88th minute. The one exception in recent seasons was in the 2010/11 FA Cup when Ryan Giggs scored the only goal of the game in the 2nd minute.
The final match goal in Man United’s previous five league games with the Reds has arrived after the 80th minute and the average time currently stands at 83 minutes ahead of Sunday’s clash at Old Trafford.
Manchester United started the New Year as they ended 2012 when hammering Wigan 4-0 at the DW Stadium. Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez got the job done for the league leaders to take United’s goals total to 54 in the league this campaign. They have now also scored 17 times in their past six league matches.
The FA Cup takes centre stage at the weekend as United try to get a decent cup run going for a change. United have not enjoyed the best of luck in the competition and they have a tough assignment at Upton Park to negotiate. It finished 1-0 to United in the earlier league meeting, but that was the first low scoring game in six contests.
The five previous matches accumulated 20 goals. Including the 1-0 result at the end of November, there has been an average of 3.5 goals per game in the past six matches between the clubs.
Arsenal's selections in the Carling Cup have, in the Arsene Wenger era, given us our first introductions to some gifted players. However, for every joyous first glimpse of a Jack Wilshere or a Kieran Gibbs, the experiemental sides haven't always done the business. Buyers of Arsenal's win index will be hoping to see at least a few experienced names in the line-up, and by experienced, I mean perhaps fans would be pleased to see 23-year-old magicians Cesc Fabregas and Sami Nasri and at 27 years old, the geriatric Robin Van Persie.
Hattrick hero (it should have been five) of the weekend Van Persie has had a startling effect on the Gunners' results when he has started. The side have won 16 of 18 league points when the Dutchman has begun a match but it's a different story when he comes off the bench. Arsenal have earned just seven points from a possible 18 when Van Persie has been introduced as a sub.
The Tractor Boys of Ipswich will be anticipating their opposition's teamsheet with interest.
Jack Wilshere offered a rare bit of excitement when we first saw him in Carling Cup a few years ago