22nd November, 2014; 17:30 GMT
Back in the day, an Arsenal–Manchester United fixture was perhaps the most fiercely fought game in the Premier League, one that would go a long way in deciding the fate of the title. It is no secret that Sir Alex Ferguson wasn’t very fond of Arsene Wenger and the two often fought it out for several Premier League titles. But times have changed. Ferguson has left Old Trafford and Wenger has found a new nemesis in Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho. The two clubs have also suffered a break-down in their fortunes. Sitting on the 6th and 7th spot in the table, both Arsenal and Manchester United have already lost the race to win the league just 11 games into the season and will perhaps be looking to compete for a spot in the Champions League next season.
Though the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona and Welbeck from United brought a sense of optimism at the Emirates, Arsenal haven’t been able to kick-start their season. Suffering from a series of injuries coupled with Arsenal’s inability to seal victories, Arsene Wenger has managed to win just 4 of his league fixtures.
Despite their rivalry, Arsene Wenger hasn’t really been able to get the better of Manchester United in recent years and coming from a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City, Arsenal will be keen to win against United considering that they will be playing at home. The fact that United have been down in the slumps will boost Arsenal’s morale who will be without several key players due to injuries.
Koscielny is yet to recover from his injury which means that Monreal will partner Mertesacker in front of Szczesny who will be featuring between the posts at the Emirates. Chambers and Gibbs are likely to start and will play an important role in the game as they will have to contain United on the flanks.
The midfield battle is going to be interesting at the Emirates but Arsenal will be without Ozil who is yet to recover from his knee injury. Though Arsenal have received a boost with both Arteta and Giroud making a return to the squad, Flamini is expected to start in the midfield along with Wilshere and Sanchez. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cazorla are likely to feature on the wings with United old boy Welbeck leading the team’s attack.
Sanchez has been lethal for Arsenal and is expected to lead the team’s attack against United’s make-shift defence. His pace along with his partnership with Wilshere and Welbeck is going to be the key to winning the game. Without Blind and a string of important defenders, Welbeck is expected to come up against Smalling and will be looking to make a strong impact after his sale from his boyhood club.
Expected Starting Eleven: Szczesny(GK); Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs; Flamini, Wilshere, Sanchez, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Welbeck
Despite their summer spree, things are not going good for Van Gaal. Entrusted with the responsibility to take United back to the top of the Premier League, Van Gaal’s progress at United shows no more promise, statistically, than David Moyes. His job is not getting easier with several key players suffering from injuries leading Van Gaal to continuously tinker with his formations and starting eleven.
New signing Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo have been ruled out with long-term injuries and join Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Rafael on the sidelines. Michael Carrick and Luke Shaw remain doubtful for the clash though there is a chance that Carrick will feature for United at the Emirates.
United is expected to start with a 4-3-3 formation with Smalling and Blackett featuring in the defence supported by Valencia and Paddy McNair on the sides. De Gea has staged an impressive recovery following his ‘international’ injury and will start the game at the Emirates. With Blind injured, Carrick is expected to start as a holding midfielder and is likely to be partnered by Rooney and Fellaini who will be playing in the centre midfield. Di Maria is sure to start on the left wing while Mata could get to start on the right. And the United attack will be led by Arsenal old boy Robin Van Persie and it will be interesting to see the reception he gets from the Arsenal faithful. Falcao remains unavailable for selection and will miss yet another crucial fixture for United.
Wayne Rooney is going to be Manchester United’s key player and his presence is the midfield is going to be important for Van Gaal. The United captain will have to put forward his best foot against Arsenal and will have to control the proceeding in the middle of the pitch. Di Maria will be United’s main attacking threat and his partnership with Rooney and Van Persie will be a threat for Arsenal’s defence. Expect Di Maria to curl in the ball looking for Robin Van Persie to head in the goal!
Expected Starting Eleven: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blackett, McNair; Carrick, Fellaini, Rooney, Di Maria, Mata; Van Persie
- Manchester Unite have won 10 of their last 14 competitive fixtures against Arsenal.
- Wayne Rooney is tied with Robbie Fowler as the player to have scored the most number of times against Arsenal.
Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
Despite United’s recent form, Van Gaal is expected to triumph against Arsenal in what will be a fiercely fought encounter.
Player To Watch Out For
All eyes will be on Danny Welbeck as he steps out to face his childhood team. Having been nurtured at Manchester United, Welbeck was let go in favour of Radamel Falcao who will be missing the game due to an injury. Expect the Englishman to come out all guns blazing as he will definitely have a point or two to prove.
Blast From The Past