Arsenal vs Manchester United Preview

The chase for top four continues on Sunday as Arsenal host Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.
The chase for top four continues on Sunday as Arsenal host Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.
English Premier League | Sunday 7 May | Emirates Stadium | 17:00

The chase for top four continues on Sunday as Arsenal host Manchester United. Both sides come off disappointing results last weekend, but a win here could boost some confidence in their respective camps for the last few weeks of the season. The long-lasting rivalry between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho will continue with both managers seeking to compete in Europe’s elite tournament next season. Mourinho hasn’t lived up to his standards this campaign while Wenger has been under criticism and begged not to sign a new contract by majority of the Gunners fans. Arsenal lie sixth on the log while the Red Devils are burning in fifth spot.

To Win (90mins)
Arsenal 19/20
Draw 49/20
Manchester United 11/4

Arsenal

After what has been a somewhat disastrous season for Arsenal, last weekend made it the most devastating for Gunners fans with it set in stone that Arsene Wenger’s side will finish below their arch-rivals Spurs for the first time in 22 years.

The Gunners have a mountain to climb now, sitting well outside the top four with two games in hand over third-placed Liverpool. Anything but a victory against Manchester United this weekend could all but end Arsenal’s hopes of competing in next season’s UEFA Champions League.

At home is where the Gunners have thrived, winning 11 of their 16 matches at the Emirates Stadium, losing just twice – to Liverpool on the opening day and Watford back in January. The North Londoners don’t have the best record against the top six, but they claimed a share of the spoils in their home games against Spurs and Manchester City, not to mention a convincing 3-0 win over soon-to-be champions, Chelsea.

Arsenal managed a draw at Old Trafford in the previous meeting between the two sides courtesy of a late Olivier Giroud header. It also needs to be said that the last time Manchester United travelled to the Emirates, they left disappointed, losing 3-0 last season.

Wenger’s record over Mourinho doesn’t bode well. The Frenchman has won just one of 16 matches against the Portuguese across all competitions. This is a rivalry that will always continue as long as they manage in the same league. My favourite Wenger quote on Mourinho would have to be:

“He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.”

If Wenger is to pick up his first league victory over Mourinho, he will need contract rebels, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, at the very best. Sanchez is still seeking his 20th league goal for the season. Arsenal’s new 3-4-2-1 formation sees the duo roaming in and around the striker to confuse the opposition. Wenger has to get his tactics right if he wants to claim maximum points and push for the top four.



Manchester United

Off the back of a disappointing setback last weekend, drawing 1-1 at home to Swansea, Manchester United find themselves in an uncomfortable position despite Arsenal and crosstown rivals, Manchester City, also failing to win.

The Red Devils did, however, set a new club record, going 25 matches unbeaten in the Premier League – the most in the club’s top-flight history. However, the draw also set an unwanted record for United, as it was their 10th home draw in the league this season; also the most in the club's history. Speaking on his side’s draw against Swansea, Mourinho added that United’s fixture list is ‘not human.’

“We did not look tired and exhausted, we are tired and exhausted. You cannot isolate the performance out of the context. This is the ninth match of April, it is not human. We have a squad of 22 that is reduced to 13 or 14 players. The players are very tired,” Mourinho said.

The Portuguese manager enjoys a match against Arsene Wenger after winning 50 percent of the 16 ties they have faced each other. When he first joined United, Mourinho had another dig at Wenger saying: “There are some managers, the last time they won a title was 10 years ago. If I have something to prove, imagine the others! To finish 4th is not the aim.”

United have been plagued by injury for much of the season, but should welcome Paul Pogba back from injury in their Thursday night UEFA Europa League clash against Celta Vigo. That could also dent United’s chances of winning against Arsenal as their second leg tie comes just a few days after.

In defence, star players like Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones are all out through injury. It got worse for the Manchester side last weekend as Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly also picked up injuries. Further forward, Paul Pogba remains a doubt for the tie, while Marouane Fellaini misses out through suspension. The biggest injury for United has to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish superstar will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing knee surgery.

That’s not the worse news for Marcus Rashford who will get his chance to shine up front in United colours. The English teenage sensation netted a brace against Arsenal in his debut last season, which coincidentally, also came after a Europa League clash.

Probable line-ups:

Arsenal: 3-4-2-1
Cech; Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Gibbs; Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud.

Manchester United: 4-2-3-1
De Gea; Valencia, Carrick, Blind, Darmian; Young, Herrera; Lingard, Rooney, Martial; Rashford.

Prediction: Sanchez to Score First (4/1)
As much as United haven’t been in the best of form this season, they have proved tough to beat under Mourinho. However, with the Red Devils’ injury crisis coming at the worst possible time, Arsenal should open the scoring. Alexis Sanchez will be pushing for his 20th league goal this campaign and is tipped to Score First at a great price of 4/1. The Chilean has hurt United in the past and should come good.


Written by Jesse Nagel.