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Gunners will need convincing win to knock Reds off top perch

PUBLISHED: 10:43 12 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:51 07 September 2010

Arsenal could find themselves trailing Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League by the time they kick off their home game with Middlesbrough on Saturday teatime. Sir Alex Ferguson s side travel to bottom club Derby County, who have not picked up a

Arsenal could find themselves trailing Manchester United in the Barclays Premier League by the time they kick off their home game with Middlesbrough on Saturday teatime.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side travel to bottom club Derby County, who have not picked up a win since September, just two points behind the Gunners. A win would take them a point clear, even just for a couple of hours.

But the psychological effect it could have on Arsenal, who were five points clear just last month, remains to be seen.

In addition, the Gunners face the only club to beat them in the league this season.

Goals from local boy Stewart Downing and Turkey international striker Tuncay Sanli earned them a narrow 2-1 victory on December 9.

The pair are the club's leading scorers, with five apiece, but it is at the back where they have really impressed.

The form of centre-halves Robert Huth and Teeside lad David Wheater allowed manager Gareth Southgate to cash in on Jonathan Woodgate, who moved to Tottenham in January for a fee believed to be in the region of £8m.

Boro immediately went four games unbeaten following Woodgate's departure, keeping three clean sheets in the process.

But since then the wheels have come off, losing three of their past four matches, including last week's devastating 2-0 home loss to Cardiff City in the FA Cup quarter- finals.

That reverse has effectively ended hopes of European football next season.

"We've let the fans down," admitted a disconsolate Southgate as Cardiff took a huge step towards repeating their 1927 FA Cup final success over Arsenal.

The Gunners need a convincing win against Middlesbrough, preferably by a large scoreline - and history is on their side. Their joint record Premier League home win came in a 7-0 victory two season ago against Boro.

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