The battle of Buffet(2004/05), The battle of Old Trafford(2003/04), Manchester United – Arsenal brawl(1990/91),… these were some of the popular captions that made the tabloids when Arsenal visits Old Trafford in the past, admittedly so, the pre-match, on-field and post-match war of words and/or scuffles between the managers and players of the two(2) clubs are 2nd to none in the premier league. The rivalry between United and Arsenal reach a boiling point in the 1990/91 season that both clubs were docked points by the FA(the only time till date in premiership history in which points were deducted from clubs due to players brawl). It is unsure whether the new set of players and managers of both clubs still have such burning fire and combativeness in them, to replicate Man United-Arsenal classic of the time past, however, the encounter is delicately poised.
Manchester United’s performances have been appalling in recent weeks, having begun the season with a comprehensive 4 nil drubbing of Chelsea, United has since gone on to lose 2 and drawn 2 out of their 6 league matches so far and currently sits 8th on the league table with just 8 points. In defence of the manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his team has been ravaged by injuries to key players such as Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and recently Marcus Rashford and are now short of players upfront, however, United made her own travails by selling striker Romelu Lukaku.
Arsenal may sit 4th on the log table with 11 points, their performances, however, have left little to admire. Their shambolic defence has put them in all sort of troubles already this campaign, Opta stats show that the Gunners’ defence has committed some of the most errors that led to goals conceded, errors that led to penalty-kicks conceded etc. They have conceded 10 goals in 6 matches already, a poor return for a UCL chasing team. Arsenal’s bright spot is their formidable attack that has scored 11 goals.
Both teams met 3 times in all competitions last season, a 2-2 league draw at Old Trafford, a 3-1 United win in the FA Cup and an Arsenal 2-0 reverse league-fixture win at the Emirate, which happened to be Arsenal’s first win over United in 5 meetings. In terms of form, United(L, D, W, L) could only manage 4 points in 4 league fixtures while Arsenal(L, D, D, W) only better United by a point in 4 fixtures also. Nevertheless, United seems to often raise their game when they face Arsenal.
United boss Solskjaer will be sweating over the fitness of his players Martial, Rashford and Pogba, if they all failed a late fitness test, then, Solskjaer may be forced to drop his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation and deployed a more cautious approach. Youngster Mason Greenwood may be called on to spearhead United’s forward line.
Arsenal boss Emery had tweaked his formation between 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 & 4-4-2 diamond formation, whatever tactics he decides to use, the focus will be on his fragile defence line. Will the return of defenders Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney and Hector Bellerin improve Arsenal’s defence? It is a big ask.
Either team wins,…
I’ve never gotten my Man United – Arsenal prediction right, so, you’ll all cut me some slack for opting to sit on the fence.
Cross-posted @scorum, feel free to blog on Scorum.
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