Arsenal vs Manchester United might not have the vicious streak it once had. You could say the same about Arsene Wenger vs Jose Mourinho, the rivalry that for so long stood as the most bitter between managers in the Premier League.

But the meeting between the two sides who once ruled the top flight is always a landmark date in the English football calendar with Saturday's (2 December) meeting at the Emirates Stadium the wrong time for either side to shy away given the looming chasm between them and league leaders Manchester City.

After putting five past Huddersfield Town on Wednesday [29 December], the Gunners have now won their last 12 consecutive home games in the league, a record that dates back to last January. It is at the Emirates where club record signing Alexandre Lacazette has been his most lethal with five of his seven league goals this term coming in north London.

But the former Lyon striker will miss the visit of United, replaced at half-time by Olivier Giroud against the Terriers with his manager confirming post-match he had picked up a groin injury.

Wenger has on occasion opted to omit the Frenchman from his starting XI in key clashes against potential title rivals, leaving him out against Liverpool and Manchester City. But he was given the nod against both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea with the new-found harmony between him, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil so key to their recent run of form. But given the striker's absence this weekend, another focal point must be considered.

Giroud helped himself to two goals after replacing his fellow France international last night but he is still to start a game in the league this season. Despite his prowess off the bench - he netted the late opening weekend win over Leicester City and two in the Europa League - it is difficult to envisage Wenger changing that routine.

Danny Welbeck could be the most likely option to come in. The former United forward has been deployed as a supporting striker and as a centre forward this season and while he has just three league goals to his name, he has proven he is the man for the occasion against his former employers, leading the line and scoring his side's second as the Gunners ended United's 25-match unbeaten run in the league last May.

Welbeck came on for the final 17 minutes on Wednesday to replace Sanchez. While the Chile international didn't seem to be suffering as he left the pitch, Wenger later confirmed the change was partially enforced, with his forward feeling the effects of a hamstring injury. According to the Gunners boss however, Sanchez is in no immediate danger of missing Saturday's match.

Arsenal XI vs Manchester United

Interestingly, Wenger also named Jack Wilshere when listing his "offensive weapons" for the United match. The 25-year-old is another who has not started a game in the league this season but in the Europa League he has been thriving in a more advanced position as part of an attacking triumvirate alongside Theo Walcott and Giroud.

Throwing the England international back in the starting XI against Mourinho's men seems unlikely, given Sanchez is expected to be fit and with Ozil in such sparkling form, but as an option off the bench he could be in the manager's thinking.

Arsenal's injury problems elsewhere have cleaned up nicely ahead of the festive period. Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal all completed the 90 minutes against Huddersfield, as did Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac. It is become a settled quintet, having all started and finished in the wins over Tottenham and Burnley and been given midweek rests in the Europa League.

Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal's most productive player this season with three goals and seven assists, and Granit Xhaka proved their worth as a midfield partnership at home to Tottenham, a vast improvement from their horror show at Anfield. Wenger has a settled side who have now found winning at home to be second nature; why should things change?

Arsenal
Arsenal are on a tremendous run at home, racking up 12 consecutive league wins. Getty