LONDON (AP) — For once, Arsenal is traveling to Manchester United on a high, looking down on United in the English Premier League standings.
Eight out of ten league matches have been won so far by Arsene Wenger's side, including against title rivals Liverpool and Tottenham to sit five points clear at the top. Even though United is eighth, the match at Old Trafford should be a key indicator of Arsenal's title credentials. Here are five things to know about that game and the rest of the weekend's Premier League fixtures.
STAYING POWER? Does Arsenal have the staying power to win the title for the first time since the unbeaten 2003-04 season? United striker Wayne Rooney doesn't think so, even though his team has eight points to make up on Arsenal. "We've seen before that they've been in the top two until February or March and then faded away," Rooney said. "They are doing brilliantly at the minute, so it's down to them to try and stay there and us to catch them."
After opening its title defense by losing three of its opening six games, United has gradually rediscovered its form. "This is when we can edge closer to (Arsenal) and bring us back into the mix of being at the top of the league," Rooney said.
RAMSEY RESURGENT: The summer football talk was dominated by a Welsh player — Gareth Bale — exiting the Premier League, but the league has been lit up by another. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey has 11 goals in 17 games for Arsenal this season, having netted just twice in the previous campaign. "It seems like every time he touches the ball it goes in the net," Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny said.
Ramsey's latest goal came at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday to clinch a memorable Champions League win — the perfect preparation for United. "This season he has gained confidence and he has an unbelievable engine to go from box to box," Wenger said of Wilshere. "Confidence and his ability of course makes him a dangerous player."
CHASING PACK: Arsenal can't be caught this weekend at the top regardless of the United result. Arsenal has a five-point advantage over Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, who are separated only by goal difference. On Saturday, Chelsea hosts West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool takes on Fulham, while Tottenham plays Newcastle the following day.
HAZARD WARNING: Like Arsenal, Chelsea has had a good week in Europe. A victory over Schalke extended Chelsea's lead in its Champions League group to three points. Eden Hazard missed the 3-0 win after being dropped for missing training following a trip to France. The Belgium winger, though, will return on Saturday against West Bromwich Albion. "He is a kid and kids make mistakes and fathers, they have to be clever in the way they educate their sons," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "He didn't play, he wanted to play, he is sad because he didn't play, we won without him and Saturday he is back, end of story."
NEW RULES: The English Football Association faced criticism last month for allowing Chelsea striker Fernando Torres to escape disciplinary action for scratching an opponent. The FA has now decided that from Nov. 22 players can be charged with misconduct even if match officials have seen part of the incident. "This enables the FA to consider acts of violent conduct, like an elbow or a stamp, which have occurred after a challenge for the ball or coming together of players," FA director of governance Darren Bailey said. "It is sometimes difficult for officials to see such incidents, as they are often concentrating solely on the challenge for possession of the ball, and we are mindful of this. "Also, where off-the-ball incidents are concerned, the policy adjustment will allow action to be taken where an act of misconduct could not have been seen by the match officials, even though they may have seen some part of the players coming together."