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Arsenal vs Manchester United Preview

Emile Smith Rowe

What a season we have enjoyed so far in the Premier League. We’ve got a proper ding-dong battle for the title, but we also have a race for Champions League places! A race nobody seemingly wants to win…of course until two challengers meet in a head-on collision. This should get the heart pumping early on Saturday afternoon!

English Premier League
Saturday 23 April
Emirates Stadium

To Win
Arsenal 5/4
Draw 47/20
Man United 43/20


To be completely fair – and I say this with absolutely no malice – Arsenal shouldn’t even be in the top four race this season. Now before I get the calvary come after me, what I mean is that they have not enjoyed a positive season and given their patchy results…shouldn’t even be in the conversation. I suppose you could say the same for most teams this year, but Arsenal have done excellently to ensure they make the most of their rivals’ mishaps.

Mikel Arteta is proving himself to be more than competent, and I don’t care how many times I say this, the patience the club showed him should be more widely celebrated than it currently is.

Of course, the concern now with the London side is their lack of goals and the rate at which they continue to drop points. Yes, there are flutters of brilliance here and there, but they are not taking games by the jugular and putting them to bed. This is a side riddled with young talent all over the pitch. They have quality and speed and yet the pressure on the players is becoming uncomfortably obvious. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe in particular, are names who were seen to be driving their side forward, making headlines, bagging valuable league points for their team, and yet now are reduced to headlines which read ‘…forced a fine save’ or ‘…denied from point-blank range’.

The narrative around Alexandre Lacazette suggests that the Frenchman sees his future away from the Emirates, a loss which I am sure will not bring too much joy to fans. In my opinion, patience was what allowed us to see the quality which underpins this famous club…and patience is what is required now.

It is not as though they are being undone and taken apart, on the contrary it is Arteta’s side which is bossing games and dominating opposition sides. And yet as the old saying goes – it only counts if it ends up being in the back of the net.

Arsenal went on a magnificent run of victories which started in February. They won five on the bounce and in that time scored an average of two goals per game. Since then, they have only secured three points from a possible 18 and scored an average of 0.4 goals per game!

Manchester United

United find themselves – almost humorously so – on the opposite side of the issue. They can’t keep a clean sheet for jam. Their defending has at times been vague and embarrassing. I suppose the only point of admiration has been the blunt acknowledgement of this issue by Ralf Rangnick, with the German manager constantly calling for more commitment and physicality from his players if they wish to continue their push for a top four finish.

I’ve been intrigued by the abandonment of a recognized ball-winner sitting in the middle of the park at United. It is certainly a bold decision, which has seemingly encouraged the team to play higher on the field. Granted, it has come about through injury, but I wonder if the subsequent experience will influence the approach to games going forward.

It would be remiss of me to not comment on the ‘problem at United’, the ‘stat padding player’, the ‘old man’ who has scored 50 hat-tricks in his career and scored a record 807 times…you know, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Anyway, the one thing United have managed to continue to do is score goals. The Red Devils have scored on average 1,5 times from their last 10 games. Obviously, they haven’t always gotten anything to show for it due to their poor defending, but you get the feeling they will ask questions of this rather fragile looking Arsenal confidence.

This game will have a say in the race for those Champions League places and so I think we can expect a throwback of sorts to the grittier encounters played out between these two English clubs.

Although, I’m sure there are a couple readers hoping for a throwback to the 2011 encounter between these two – you know, a happier time before more recent world events…

Prediction: Manchester United (43/20)

I think Manchester United win this football match. I wouldn’t suggest adding this to any extended multiple bets nor taking office wagers where you might find yourself wearing a rival club jersey. However, the inconsistency which casts doubt over the United win, is applicable to both Spurs and Arsenal – and I suppose you could even throw West Ham into that conversation.

The difference here is in the attacking opportunities each side will create and I think with that in mind, you simply must side with the visitors.

Written by Ryan Liberty