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Friday, July 30, 1999 Published at 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK


Sport: Football

Big two gear up for Wembley

Arsenal beat Manchester United 12 months ago to win the Charity Shield

The two strongest teams in English football over the past decade meet at Wembley on Sunday to decide the final Charity Shield of the 1990s.


Ex-Arsenal and United player Frank Stapleton previews the Charity Shield
Treble-winners Manchester United meet Premiership runners-up Arsenal in the traditional curtain-raiser to the new season.

Some critics have recently doubted the value in the modern era of what is little more than a glorified exhibition match.

But managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger will both be looking for an early morale boost against their rivals for the title

Keane holds fire

Ferguson takes United into the Charity Shield already missing two players through injury.

Captain Roy Keane is yet to recover fully from an ankle injury sustained in the FA Cup Final.


[ image: United's David Beckham holds off Emmanuel Petit's challenge in the 1998 match]
United's David Beckham holds off Emmanuel Petit's challenge in the 1998 match
And the long-term cruciate ligament injury to young defender Wes Brown could persuade Ferguson to enter the transfer market before the Champions League deadline.

Mark Bosnich takes up residence in the United goal following the summer departure of Peter Schmeichel.

But that change aside, the message is one of continuity at Old Trafford for the coming season.

Ferguson has been delighted with his squad's pre-season preparations:

"Because we were going to Australia, we had to shorten our training and condense a lot into the five or six days before we went," he said.

"We had managed to get the main body through without any serious injuries and the only big problem is Wes Brown."

Old boys carry on

Despite their advancing years and the arrival of new recruits, the Arsenal defence is ready for another season.

Steve Bould may have departed for Sunderland but veterans David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn, Tony Adams and Martin Keown are still at Highbury.


[ image: Dennis Bergkamp beats Ronny Johnsen to the ball at Wembley]
Dennis Bergkamp beats Ronny Johnsen to the ball at Wembley
However, Seaman misses the game after an injury in a pre-season match and Adams is absent for the start of the campaign following a hernia operation.

Dutch stars Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars are also injured and will be watching from the stands.

Wenger said: "It is difficult to have these problems, but we still have many good players here."

"It may be that we pushed Dennis and Marc too far last season. The six weeks they have had off has not been enough.

"Dennis has a small chance of being fit for the opening game against Leicester, but Marc has no chance at all."



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