Manchester Utd vs
Arsenal Preview: Gunners aiming to extend their unbeaten run
Photo: Getty Images

Manchester Utd vs Arsenal Preview: Gunners aiming to extend their unbeaten run

Arsenal travel to Manchester to face Jose Mourinho's struggling side on Wednesday.

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Mitul Samji

Arsenal come into this game with huge confidence after beating arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur and leapfrog their rivals into fourth in the Premier League table.

Unai Emery’s side face a stern test at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, where they have not won in the Premier League since 2006 and won in only two other occasions (1998 & 2002) since the formation of the Premier League.

Man Utd are just eight points and three places behind Arsenal and enduring their worst start to a season for over 26 years, with former Monaco forward Anthony Martial as their main top goal scorer with seven goals in all competitions.

Having not won in the last three league games, Manchester United will be keen to avoid in dropping any points to have any chance to maintain their chances of a top-four finish. Man United will look to utilise their midfield area to exploit Arsenal into the final third in having any chance of getting anything out from a highflying Arsenal side.

United manager Jose Mourinho highlighted they’re lacking “mad dogs” in midfield from their 2-2 draw against Southampton last weekend.

Team news

Arsenal will be without midfielder Granit Xhaka at Manchester United on Wednesday due to suspension. It will be the first league game he has not featured in since 11th February 2017, a run of 55 matches.

German midfielder Mesut Ozil remains in doubt whether he’ll be involved for Wednesday’s clash at Old Trafford because of a back problem.

Former Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck remains side-lined to a serious ankle injury against Sporting Lisbon. In defence, Arsenal continue to look short and will be without Nacho Monreal (hamstring), Konstantinos Mavropanos (Groin) and Laurent Koscielny (Achilles).

The hosts will line up without full-back Ashley Young who is ruled out of the game at Old Trafford after reaching five bookings this season.

Former Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez will not feature against his former club and is ruled out till the New Year after sustaining a hamstring injury. Swedish international Victor Lindelof will miss most of December, having suffered a groin injury against Crystal Palace two weeks ago. Manchester United continue to look short in defence with Chris Smalling (foot), Eric Bailly (back), Matteo Darmian (knock) and Luke Shaw (knock) all remain in doubt ahead of the game. United forward Marcus Rashford is also in doubt for the Arsenal game after coming off in the 77th minute in their 2-2 draw away to Southampton.

Predicted line-ups:

Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, McTominay, Jones, Rojo, Matic, Pogba, Herrera, Rashford, Lukaku.

Arsenal: Leno, Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding, Bellerin, Torreira, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

Key Clashes

Phil Jones vs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang/Alexandre Lacazette

Phil Jones has not regularly featured this season and there’s been a major shuffle in Manchester United’s defence, leaving him as United’s only established centre-back. Jones is never afraid to make challenges who can be commanding and composed at the back but faces a big challenge in stopping the Premier League top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and forward Alexandre Lacazette. Both have been scoring for fun and played a significant role in Arsenal’s strong start under new head coach Emery.

Nemanja Matic vs Lucas Torreira

Nemanja Matic has not had the greatest of seasons at Old Trafford and is widely regarded as a “top performer” in defensive midfield during his Chelsea days but Mourinho is most likely to play Matic in defence as United are currently short in defence, leaving Matic with more responsibility at the back.

For the visitors, Lucas Torreira has been one of the best signings this summer and has been Arsenal’s main man in midfield who can sit deep and break play and also provide cover to the defence. Torreira loves to sit deep and be responsible for covering spaces whenever fullbacks are caught out of position. He has been Arsenal’s key player in midfield and have received lots of plaudits for his performances so far this season. There’s more to come from Torreira as the season goes on.

Paul Pogba vs Sokratis

This is a game where Paul Pogba must take extra responsibility which Mourinho will demand a match-winning performance from him. Pogba has received criticism from his performances both on and off the pitch during the course of the season. United fans and players hoping he can replicate his performances against Arsenal from last season, where he played a big part in both victories against Arsenal. With his creativity and causing attacking problems, United and Pogba must look to take advantage in the first half in which Arsenal have not led at half-time this season.

With Sokratis, he has displayed a fighting quality in the heart of Arsenal’s defence. Sokratis demands the ball and often starts attacks by carrying the ball forward and linking with the midfield and attack. One of Arsenal’s problems in recent times has been a lack of composure in front of Petr Cech, and this is something Sokratis has helped to improve but he is strong, stable and is a leader. He has brought some steel, experience and leadership at the back which is key to Wednesday’s clash.

Emery: United clash will prove Arsenal’s progress

Following from Arsenal’s North London derby win over Tottenham on Sunday Emery relishes the challenge of facing Jose Mourinho’s United side at Old Trafford. Emery clearly believes that Arsenal’s result at Old Trafford will indicate whether Arsenal have turned the corner this season.

However, he has previously mentioned making history to change their recent records against the so-called “top six” sides.

Emery told Sky Sports: “It will be a very big challenge for us on Wednesday and it will confirm our good moment, or whether we need more.

“It is very difficult to win there because they are a very big team with big players and have a big atmosphere pushing them, but it is an exciting match and my motivation is very big.”

Mourinho: Difficult decisions ahead vs Arsenal

Manchester United manager Mourinho faces a selection headache in defence with the Red Devils currently short ahead of the Arsenal game- with Jones as there only recognised and established centre-Back. Mourinho is likely to continue to play the likes of Scott McTominay and may possibly hand a first start for Portuguese international Diogo Dalot.

Mourinho told MUTV: "We are going to be in difficulties again to build the team.

"We are again going to have to make adaptations and compensations to try to give some balance to the team. But then I believe we are again going to have the spirit to fight and to try to win the match."

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