Arsenal host Manchester United on New Year’s Day in what should be a mouthwatering clash between two sides who used to be bitter rivals.
The Gunners have just one win in their last 15 games, but there have been signs of improvement under the management of Mikel Arteta against Bournemouth and more recently Chelsea.
United are enduring a largely inconsistent season, often slipping up against sides in the lower reaches of the table after promising performances against the league’s bigger boys. The Red Devils will hope to flourish in another big game here, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial full of confidence right now.
Here is 90min‘s preview of the massive fixture.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Wednesday 1 January|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Emirates Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport 1|
For Arsenal, they will be hoping that Sokratis can return and take his place in defence in place of the calamitous Shkodran Mustafi. With Calum Chambers and Rob Holding likely to miss the game, the Greek defender’s return couldn’t come quick enough.
Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac continue to be sidelined, but Arteta will be hoping that Hector Bellerin and Gabriel Martinelli are fit to return to the squad. Question marks remain over Granit Xhaka, with the midfielder missing the last game with illness, while a move to Hertha BSC appears to be edging closer.
Despite being in and out of the team for the last few matches, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be tempted to play Paul Pogba in a match of this magnitude. The Frenchman has just returned from injury and is being managed carefully by the Norwegian. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also expected to return after being rested against Burnley.
Luke Shaw could also come back into the team in place of Brandon Williams. However, Scott McTominay, Eric Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Marcus Rojo and Timothy Fosu-Mensah remained sidelined for United.
|Arsenal||Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Saka; Torreira, Guendouzi; Nelson, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette|
|Man United||De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw; Matic, Fred; James, Pogba, Rashford; Martial.|
Mikel Arteta is still searching for his first win as Arsenal manager after seeing his side capitulate lateon against Chelsea.
However, the Gunners are unbeaten in their last three Premier League meetings with Manchester United – they have not gone four without defeat against them since February 1999.
United have lost three of their last four away Premier League matches against Arsenal, while no team has won more games in the competition on New Year’s Day than the Gunners. However, United have won their first league game in each of the last four calendar years.
Arsenal vs Manchester United has been a historic fixture in England for decades, with the sides taking each other on a whopping 231 times. United lead the head-to-head with 99 wins to Arsenal’s 83, and will be in search of a century of wins over the Gunners. There have also been 49 draws been the two teams.
Arteta’s men have just one win in their last six against United, with that coming at the Emirates last season in a 2-0 Premier League victory. Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were the goalscorers on the day.
The last meeting between the sides ended up in a 1-1 draw, with a cheeky finish from Aubameyang (who else?) cancelling out a brilliant strike from McTominay at Old Trafford.
Simply put, Arsenal are in a torrid run of form, claiming just one win in their last 15 games. As well as that, they have lost four home games in a row for the first time since 1959. Something has to change and fast, otherwise they may soon find themselves around the relegation zone.
United are consistently inconsistent. After a draw against Everton, they lost to relegation strugglers Watford. However, recent wins against Newcastle and Burnley would have injected them with some confidence. As they battle for top four, this game is massive for the Red Devils.
|Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea (29/12)||Burnley 0-2 Man Utd (28/12)|
|Bournemouth 1-1 Arsenal (26/12)||Man Utd 4-1 Newcastle (26/12)|
|Everton 0-0 Arsenal (21/12)||Watford 2-0 Man Utd (22/12)|
|Arsenal 0-3 Man City (15/12)||Man Utd 3-0 Colchester (18/12)|
|Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal (12/12)||Man Utd 1-1 Everton (15/11)|
Although many may think that United are favourites for this game, you get a funny feeling that the Gunners will pull this one out of the bag. With United’s defence shaky at times, the hosts will be confident of creating chances for the likes of Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
However, Arsenal need to be fitter than they were against Chelsea, which is clearly something the Spanish manager needs to work on. They also need to be wary of the United counter-attack, something that has proven deadly on a number of occasions.
If the London outfit can put in a similar performance to the one against Chelsea then they have every chance of getting a much-needed win. One thing is for sure, this fixture is guaranteed to be an absolute cracker.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-2 Man Utd