Manchester United will welcome Arsenal to Old Trafford in a contest that presents two sides among the Premier League’s best.
The Red Devils, positioned at fourth place in the league table with 68 points, enjoy a comfortable six-point lead on Liverpool and manager Louis van Gaal noted that he and the board outlined a top-four finish as the main goal of the season.
Therefore, it’s no surprise the happy Dutchman is content with the United’s season.
Ahead of the Arsenal clash, though, Van Gaal admitted that Wayne Rooney and youngster Luke Shaw cannot play, a scenario that ultimately hurts their chances.
“The situation is not positive for us, they cannot play, neither of them,” Van Gaal said, via Manchester United’s official website. “….I think it will be difficult for them to play again this season.”
United’s boss also warned against the former Southampton back performing in European U-21 Championship. Shaw was hit in the face in a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace a week ago and was substituted off for defender Jonny Evans.
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“When you are not playing for Man Utd you cannot play for other teams. He needs the rest….He is 19. We have to protect him. I hope that the coach of the Under-21s understands that,” Van Gaal said, responding to the possibility of Shaw being a part of the European U-21 Championship this summer.
Meanwhile, Radamel Falcao went in for Rooney at the half against Palace following the captain’s dead leg knock.
On the other side, Arsenal will not have the services of several players, including the persisting injuries of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy.
Continuing hamstring and groin injuries have kept Oxlade-Chamberlain sidelined. He last appeared for his side in the FA Cup quarterfinal against Manchester United in March.
Arteta has been dealing with the ankle and calf problems for the past six months, and Debuchy has been out for the past three weeks due to a hamstring condition.
“I don’t know how long the others will be out for, it’s difficult to say, but hopefully they will play again this season,” manager Arsene Wenger said.
He also mentioned that forward-winger hybrid Danny Welbeck, working back from two-game absence caused by a knee ailment, has “little possibility to be fit” for the upcoming match, which would see the 24-year-old face his former club.
On the bright side, Gunners midfielder Aaron Ramsey, despite being absent for most of training, looks ready to perform on Sunday.