Arsenal are finally back to their favorite fourth position and need to face the second team in the table league. Doesn’t seem fair, right? Well, if you are the real fourth team in such a tough competition as Premier League, you better be ready for the big opponents. After the glorious game against Tottenham (2-0), Arsenal do not fear to face the big opponents. However, Manchester United have to place to slip up. Chelsea are right behind them, lacking only three points ahead of week 15. They also need to follow Manchester City, not willing to give them the opportunity to feel like champions even before the winter break. Let’s get brief information about the teams’ states and their possible strategies ahead of the Saturday clash.
Arsenal have raised the hopes of their fans, as they looked very confident against Tottenham (2-0). Moreover, the only game that didn’t turn out to bring three points to the Gunners from the last seven matches was the game against the league leader Manchester City. In general, Arsenal seem to look pretty confident ahead of the Manchester United clash, as Alexis Sanchez scored a last minute winner against Burnley (0-1) last weekend and also destroyed Huddersfield Town (5-0) in the midweek. The only bitter taste in Arsenal’s fans’ mouths are the winless two games in Europa League, despite the fact that they stay the leader in Group H, already qualified for the knockout stage and seem to be concentrated on English Premier League performances.
Manchester United are also showing decent football in the most prestigious league of the recent years. Jose Mourinho side have won three games in a row after losing in the away clash against Chelsea. They have also managed to win 2-4 in the midweek game against one of the toughest teams of the current season Watford. Manchester United are currently the second team in the league, are eight points behind the leaders of the competition at this point and, taking into account the pressure from their own followers Chelsea, the Blues prepared to face Newcastle in matchweek 15.
Arsenal have lost only one game on the five recent head-to-head clashes between these teams. Moreover, the last two games at Emirates stadiums were wins and wins without conceding the goal (2-0, 3-0). Both of these victories were achieved in Premier League clashes, in the seasons 2016/17 (2-0) and 2015/16 (3-0).
However, if we look in the overall picture of the history of matches between these giants, taking into account all competitions and both of the possible venues, these teams have a pretty equal record. In the last H2H matches Arsenal and Manchester United have three wins each and four games were recorded to be draws.
The Gunners will be missing one of their attack leaders Alexandre Lacazette, who has picked up a groin injury in the Wednesday clash against Huddlesfield and his recovery dates are yet unknown, as well as his teammate’s midfielder Santi Cazorla’s. Arsene Wenger is not expected to have any other injury concerns ahead of the Manchester United clash.
The Red Devils, in turn, will lack defensive and midfield forces, in the faces of Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, all of them announced to be injured. It has also come to light that midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is sidelined due to the manager’s preference, as Jose Mourinho is dissatisfied with his current form.
Arsenal – manager: Arsene Wenger (3-4-2-1)
Petr Cech; Laurent Koscielny – Shkodran Mustafi – Nacho Monreal; Hector Bellerin – Aaron Ramsey – Granit Xhaka – Sead Kolasinac; Mesut Ozil – Danny Welbeck; Alexis Sanchez
Manchester United – manager: Jose Mourinho (3-5-2)
David De Gea; Victor Lindelof – Chris Smalling – Marcos Rojo; Antonio Valencia – Ander Herrera – Nemanja Matic – Paul Pogba – Ashley Young; Romelu Lukaku – Marcus Rashford
Both Arsenal and Manchester United are currently in their decent form. These teams are expected to put up a fight against each other. Taking into account the bad record of Manchester United in the away games against big teams in this season, this game can be active for Arsenal, if Manchester United high class players do not show individual skills and save up the game. As one of Arsenal’s attacking forces Lacazette is sidelined due to the injury, the draw ending scenario seems reasonable.