The old rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal is set to resume at Old Trafford as both sides desperately look to gain form in the league.
Manchester United have not had the best of starts this season. In their 6 games so far in the Premier League, the Old Trafford side have managed just two wins. They suffered a morale-sapping defeat to West Ham United in the last matchday. They will be desperate to get going in the league when they host Arsenal or face further problems in terms of their position on the table.
More than winning games, the major concerns for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the team’s form. If last weekend’s loss to the Hammers was terrible, then the way United limped to a penalty shoot-out victory against Rochdale was a warning of sorts. Solskjaer will be hoping his team maintain their usually good form against Arsenal at home.
Arsenal meanwhile seem to have arrested their minor slump after three wins in as many games in all competitions. Wins over Eintracht Frankfurt, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forrest have boosted Arsenal, and the side will be confident about going to Old Trafford. But their game Aston Villa last weekend would have raised some concerns about the state of the defence, which has been leaky all season.
However, with many vital defensive stars returning to the side, Arsenal have fewer injury problems compared to their opponents. Emery will be hoping his team take full advantage of Manchester United’s current plight and inflict more misery on Solskjaer with a thorough performance.
Team News & Tactics
Manchester United have one of the longest injury lists in the division. As many as nine first-team players are missing from the action at the moment, with most of them set to miss the Arsenal game. The hardest they’ve been hit is on the attacking front, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial ruled out.
At the back, Eric Bailly remains a long term absentee, while Luke Shaw, who despite returning to training remains out of the game on Monday. The big concern will be over the fitness of Paul Pogba, who suffered a knock to his ankle in the victory over Rochdale. The Frenchman only returned last weekend against Hammers from the same problem. He remains a doubt against Arsenal.
Axel Tuanzebe, who was made captain during midweek, is expected to start in the team, in place of Victor Lindelof, who hasn’t made the best of starts to the new season. Mason Greenwood, who scored in the midweek clash, is in line for a start against Arsenal in light of the absence of Martial and Rashford, while Daniel James is a certainty on the left.
Solskjaer has used the 4-2-3-1 formation extensively this term, but might opt to reinforce his midfield further by adding another body in the centre in search of more solidity and control. The three-man midfield is likely to comprise of Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Pogba, provided he is passed fit.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Tuanzebe, Maguire, Young; Pogba, Matic, McTominay; Mata, Greenwood, James
The long injury list at Arsenal has now reduced to just two players. Alexandre Lacazette and Emile Smith-Rowe are the only notable absentees for the trip to Old Trafford. In defence, Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney and Rob Holding made their returns against Nottingham Forest. It remains to be seen if Emery starts either of those players against United.
Bellerin is expected to be out of the game after participating with the U-23 side, where he played the entire 90 mins. With Tierney too, Emery will be cautious and wait another week before handing the Scotland international his first Premier League start. Meaning, Sead Kolasinac is expected to be filling in at left-back.
Calum Chambers, who particularly impressed with three assists in the Carabao Cup has made his case to be in the starting lineup. However, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is also available after serving his one-game ban during midweek. Here too, Emery’s decision will be key to determine which player starts at right-back. David Luiz and Sokratis are expected to form a central defensive partnership.
After being named captain for the season, Granit Xhaka is set for a start, with Matteo Guendouzi, his partner in midfield. However, Emery might look to field Lucas Torreira in a midfield trio. If he doesn’t, then expect Dani Ceballos to start in the No.10 role ahead of Mesut Ozil. The front three, otherwise, looks likely to have Nicolas Pepe, Reiss Nelson and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Pepe, Ceballos, Nelson; Aubameyang
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 12 Premier League games against Arsenal at Old Trafford (W8 D4 L0) since a 1-0 defeat in September 2006.
- Arsenal are looking to register consecutive Premier League victories over Man Utd for the first time since winning both matches in the 2006-07 campaign.
- Arsenal have taken (1) or faced (3) a penalty in each of their last four Premier League games and could become just the sixth side in the competition’s history to see a penalty awarded in five successive games.
- This season, Man Utd have won the most (4), and Arsenal have conceded the most (3) spot-kicks in the competition.
- Manchester United lost their last home league game against a London club (1-2 vs Crystal Palace) – they’ve not lost consecutive home games against sides from the capital since December 2001.
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.53
1. Full Time Result – Draw @ 3.50
Player to Watch
This season has not been a pleasant one for Granit Xhaka so far. Time and again the Swiss midfielder has been caught out making errors that have cost the team dearly. In the six games so far, his lack of speed and the immobile nature of his game has been exposed badly by opponents, with Xhaka coming in for heavy criticism. After being named Arsenal’s full-time captain, the pressure increases even more.
Xhaka has to set an example, as his fellow partner, Guendouzi, has become a leader in midfield this season. Xhaka, despite the captaincy, is in grave danger of being dropped if his performance levels remain constant. He has to bring out his leadership qualities and prove Emery’s decision as the right one, starting with a good outing against Manchester United.
Manchester United 1-2 Arsenal
It’s a tough one to predict here. In recent years, United haven’t looked all too convincing when Arsenal have visited but somehow have managed to avoid defeat against their old rivals. This time, the scenario looks much similar to recent seasons, but Arsenal may have a case this season.
The Gunners have arrested their slump, while United are visibly struggling with cohesion and lack of cutting edge, while injuries have hit them hard as well. Emery will look at his side to take full advantage of the situation and will be aiming at three points. Expect Arsenal to win this one, but not without United giving a fight at Old Trafford.