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Campbell set to face in-form Rooney

Campbell set to face in-form Rooney

With four goals against Hull and an injury-time header that put Manchester United into another League Cup final, Wayne Rooney has hit top form at a time when his team appeared to be sliding.
Now he needs to maintain it in a big Premier League confrontation with Arsenal, as defending champion United bids to stay in touch with leader Chelsea.
Rooney' scoring streak has taken him to 21 in all competitions this season and his return to form has come after United was knocked out of the FA Cup by third-tier club Leeds and then slipped to third in the Premier League standings.
United has since moved up to second, a point behind Chelsea having played a game more and Rooney denies that the team, which has won the last three Premier League titles, has been in trouble.
"I don't need to say too much at all to people who think that United are starting to slide," the striker said. "Chelsea have a game in hand, but we're still up there, in a good position in the Champions League and the final of the Carling (League) Cup. I can't see any slide from us at the minute."
He has also shrugged off suggestions that United is relying too much on his scoring, especially with Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen not getting many recent starts and United playing a different formation.
"I don't look on us as a one-man team or see it as a great burden on me, it's nonsense," he said. "If I don't get the service, I can't score. If I don't, I expect others to, and we've done that well. We've shared the goals out well and it's certainly not just about me. We expect to win as a team, not as individuals."
Rooney is waiting to see which Arsenal defender will be marking him at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
Thomas Vermaelen limped out of Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Aston Villa fearing he may have broken his leg just below the knee. But the injury turned out to be not so bad and manager Arsene Wenger said Friday the Belgian defender had a slight chance of facing United.
"The good news we have on Vermaelen is that there is no fracture," Wenger said. "We have to assess his knee today, there is still a small chance that he will play on Sunday. We will do the maximum to get him fit but at the moment it looks unlikely. It should be a very short-term injury.
"It looked to be a two-month problem, now at the latest he should be ready for the Chelsea game (on Feb. 7)."
If Vermaelen is ruled out, Wenger may have to turn to 35-year-old Sol Campbell, who has returned to the club after three seasons with Portsmouth and only one game for fourth tier Notts County.
Campbell went on as a first half substitute for Vermaelen and also played in Arsenal's 3-1 FA Cup defeat at Stoke on Sunday. Now he could be up against Rooney.
"He's the talisman for United," Campbell said of his former England teammate. "He's always going to pop up, he's always dangerous. "As a top striker, you have to watch him. In a flash, something can happen and they're in."
Campbell also noted that Arsenal's bid to win the title for the first time since 2004 might hang on the next three games against United, Chelsea and Liverpool.
"It's a challenge. That's what it's all about. We're at the business end of the season," said the central defender, who helped Arsenal win two Premier League titles. "It's a big two weeks for the club. We have to get some points and go from there."
Wenger said he was confident Campbell would be able to stop Rooney if Vermaelen didn't recover.
"He is ready if he has recovered well (from the Villa game)," Wenger said of Campbell. "I have to assess him today but normally he will play if Vermaelen doesn't play. I think he can stop Rooney. He has experience and he likes the big games. He can turn up if needed and experience helps in these kind of games."
A day before Arsenal and Man United meet, Chelsea should collect three points at Burnley, which has slipped into the relegation zone.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti has Ivory Coast strikers Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou back from the African Cup of Nations.
His team has a game in hand on both United and Arsenal and plays that makeup match at Hull on Tuesday. That means, if Chelsea's two nearest rivals draw on Sunday, Ancelotti's team will go six points ahead with two victories.
Saturday's other games are: Birmingham vs. Tottenham, Fulham vs. Aston Villa, Hull vs. Wolves, Liverpool vs. Bolton, West Ham vs. Blackburn, Wigan vs. Everton.
On Sunday, Manchester City hosts last place Portsmouth.


Updated : 2020-12-05 14:13 GMT+08:00