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First goal may come from midfield when Man Utd host Arsenal

Manchester United are in for a real test when Premier League-leaders Arsenal travel to the north west, but with both teams sharing around the goals this season the first-scorer market for this clash is a real mire.

We’ve had a look at each team’s favourites to break the deadlock at the Theatre of Dreams, as well as a couple of interesting outsiders who are good value to sneak an early goal.

Robin van Persie @ 9/2

The two-time Premier League golden boot winner will be itching to score against the club he graced for eight seasons, prior to his £24m move north just over a year ago.

Van Persie took three minutes to get off the mark in this fixture last season and has scored in each of his last three Premier League games, breaking the deadlock in two of those clashes.

However, the 79-cap Netherlands international has not been at his imperious best this season and has missed chunks of the campaign so far due to recurrent injury problems.

His half-hour Champions League cameo in United’s 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad produced nothing but a glaring miss and a penalty save, so Van Persie is best swerved in this fixture against defenders who know him all too well.

Olivier Giroud @ 15/2

The French international was brought in to replace Van Persie in the summer of 2011 and took seven games to grab his first Premier League goal, ending the season with a modest return of 11 strikes in 34 top-flight appearances.

Giroud has improved markedly this season, scoring eight times in all competitions already and grabbed a goal in each of Arsenal’s first four Premier League games in 2013/14.

The last of those was in the Gunners 2-0 win at Crystal Palace recently, but apart from that effort the former Montpellier man has only scored once in the Premier League since his winner against Spurs at the start of September.

The 27-year-old made little impact in his 90 minutes on the Old Trafford turf last term and is also overlooked to strike first in this fixture.

Adnan Januzaj @ 8/1

Januzaj has quickly become one of David Moyes’ most important assets and the Brussels native’s game-changing contribution to his side’s recent win against Stoke helped ease the pressure on the beleaguered Scot.

The 18-year-old succeeded where his more experienced teammates failed against the Potters, laying on the equalising goal for Wayne Rooney and causing Mark Hughes’ side no end of problems with his pace and trickery.

Januzaj has fired 14 efforts on goal in his six Premier League matches for the champions and he has enough raw talent and youthful exuberance to add to his brace against Crystal Palace with the opener here.

Aaron Ramsey @ 8/1

The Welsh international’s 2013/14 goalscoring odyssey shows no sign of abating after he grabbed the winner at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

That was Ramsey’s 11th goal in 17 games for the Gunners this term, which means the 22-year-old has doubled his career strike tally since the start of the campaign.

He must be good value to score the first goal at Old Trafford, but the 11/4 about Ramsey scoring at any time during the match looks an even better bet.