It’s the clash of the heavyweights as Manchester United face off against Arsenal at Old Trafford in matchweek seven of the Premier League this weekend.
Matchweek seven of the 2020/21 Premier League is already underway and the marquee fixture of this round comes our way from Old Trafford on Sunday, as Manchester United get ready to host perennial rivals Arsenal.
Manchester United are on a corrective course after the humiliation at the hands of Tottenham. In the four games since, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have picked up three wins (D1), with their most recent fixture ending in a resounding 5-0 win over RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League earlier this week. However, they are yet to win a league game at home this season.
Arsenal, on the other hand, head into the game having lost their last two Premier League fixtures against Manchester City and Leicester City. And while the 3-0 midweek win against Dundalk in the UEFA Europa League will have come as a boost, a trip to Old Trafford will pose a serious challenge for Mikel Arteta & co, as they aim to get back to winning ways in the top flight.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 1-1 stalemate, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cancelling out Scott McTominay’s strike. And ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
There are no fresh injury concerns for Manchester United heading into the game, with Jesse Lingard and Eric Bailly still ruled out while new signing Alex Telles will also miss out after testing positive for coronavirus. In addition, Anthony Martial will miss out again as he serves the last of his three-match ban in the Premier League.
Solskjaer has tweaked his system according to the opposition in recent matches but might opt to stick with the 4-1-2-1-2 that he utilised against RB Leipzig in midweek, given how impressive United were in both halves of the pitch. However, there could be a few personnel changes for the clash on Sunday.
David de Gea has kept back-t0-back clean sheets and will be hoping to add another against Arsenal this weekend. The Spaniard will continue to be shielded by an unchanged backline of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw. Although, Axel Tuanzebe is an option that Solskjaer might consider, especially if he decides to switch to a three-man defence.
Nemanja Matic started at the base of the midfield diamond in midweek but is expected to drop out in favour of academy product Scott McTominay against the Gunners. The Scotsman will be key to curbing the influence of someone like Dani Ceballos, with support coming from Fred, who will slot in on his right.
Paul Pogba turned back the clock to his Juventus days on the left side of the diamond and should play in a similar position on Sunday, with Bruno Fernandes set to replace Donny van de Beek at the tip. Marcus Rashford who scored a scintillating hat-trick in midweek should start alongside Mason Greenwood in the two-pronged attack.
Probable Lineup (4-1-2-1-2): de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay; Fred, Pogba; Fernandes; Greenwood, Rashford
David Luiz is a huge doubt for the game after picking up an injury last weekend. The Gunners are also without fellow defenders Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Pablo Mari, all of whom are closing in on a return to full fitness in a week or two. Gabriel Martinelli is back in full training which comes as a boost but is unlikely to be rushed back into action.
Arteta has looked to use the 4-3-3 formation following the arrival of Thomas Partey and while he did switch to a three-man defence in midweek, the Arsenal boss is likely to revert to the former shape in front of goalkeeper Bernd Leno against Manchester United.
Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney ought to be the full-backs on the right and left sides respectively. The duo will flank the centre-back partnership of the shaky Shkodran Mustafi and the impressive Gabriel Magalhaes. They will seek protection from the much-vaunted summer signing Thomas Partey, who will slot in as the holding midfielder.
Granit Xhaka will act as the conduit between the two halves of the pitch while Arteta will look up to compatriot Dani Ceballos to provide the creativity from the centre of the park in the absence of a genuine playmaker in the squad. Bukayo Saka wasn’t involved in midweek against Dundalk and could get the nod on the right flank over Willian.
Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is once again expected to slot in on the left flank. The Gabonese ace has gone five league games without a goal for the first time since 2014 and will be hoping to end that run on Sunday. Spearheading the Gunners’ attack will be Alexandre Lacazette, even though Eddie Nketiah scored in the midweek win.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang
1. Manchester United Draw No Bet @ 1.50
1. Edinson Cavani to score anytime @ 2.40
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 13 home matches against Arsenal in the Premier League. Their last defeat against the Gunners at Old Trafford came in September 2006.
- Arsenal have won two of their last three Premier League games against Manchester United (D1), as many as they had in their previous 15 against them (W2 D5 L8).
- Manchester United have failed to win any of their three home league games this term (D1 L2). The last time the Red Devils were winless in their first four league outings at Old Trafford was in 1972/73.
- Should Arsenal win on Sunday, Mikel Arteta will become just the second Arsenal manager after Herbert Chapman (1925/26) to win both of his first two games against Manchester United.
- Manchester United are without a win in their last five league encounters at home. It is their longest such run since February 1990 (6).
Player to Watch
Whether it be on the football field or off it, Marcus Rashford can just do no wrong at the moment. The Englishman, who turned 23 this Saturday, has been making waves with his fight against child poverty for quite a while now and continues to shine bright on the pitch for Manchester United.
On Wednesday, the Red Devils’ academy product scored his first career hat-trick after coming on the bench against RB Leipzig. Set to start against Arsenal on Sunday, Rashford will be hoping to carry that momentum forward and fire his team to another important victory.
The England international has not scored against the Gunners since bagging a double on his PL debut in 2016. Indeed, he has failed to find the back of the net in his nine subsequent appearances in all competitions against the North London giants and will be itching to end that run this weekend.
Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
Arsenal have had the rub of the green in their last four Premier League meetings against Manchester United (W2 D2). However, they head into the game on the back of two defeats in the league, with the form of Aubameyang a major concern for Arteta.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have responded to their brutal defeat to Tottenham in a brilliant fashion, racking up some impressive results since. The home team seem to have tightened things up at the back in recent games, while the form of Rashford and Fernandes stacks the odds in their favour heading into Sunday’s game.
It will be a closely-contested affair at Old Trafford and while Arsenal will make things hard for United, based on current form, The Hard Tackle is predicting a narrow win for Solskjaer & co.