Friday 18 November 2016

Match preview: United v Arsenal

Jose Mourinho renews his bitter rivalry with old foe Arsene Wenger as United welcome the fourth-placed Gunners on Saturday lunchtime. 

The pair lock horns in the latest edition of their storied and long-running rivalry as the North London side arrive at Old Trafford in fine form and unbeaten in 16 league and cup matches. 

Victory for United would inflict only a second league defeat of the season on Wenger's side and move us to within three points of the visitors and five off the top.

We're unbeaten in ten league matches at home against Arsenal and Mourinho also boasts an imperious record against Wenger, having only lost once to his rival (and that came in the Community Shield) even during his Chelsea side's horrible slump at the start of last season. 

History and the head-to-record would point to a United win but we have a lengthy list of injuries and suspensions ahead of the 224th meeting with our fellow top-flight giants. 

Antonio Valencia (arm), Chris Smalling (toe) and Eric Bailly (knee) are definite absentees - as is Zlatan Ibrahimovic who serves a one-match ban - while Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are doubtful.

Arsenal have injury worries of their own with Hector Bellerin out for a month with an ankle problem.
Santi Cazorla remains sidelined and - despite playing for Chile on Tuesday - the fitness of Alex Sanchez (hamstring) will be assessed. 

On his record against Arsenal, injuries and hopes for the future, United boss Mourinho said: 

"A football match is an isolated event so past records don't matter, it has nothing to do with what has happened before so I do not think about records.
"We have some injuries but I am not sad because it's a window of opportunity for others and the players  are ready for those opportunities.
"I am in the club where I want to be - I was champion in four different clubs (Porto, Inter, Real and Chelsea), and I want to be a champion at every club I work, which is quite a nice record to be able to have, so I want to do that at Manchester United, a club that has been accustomed to being the champion." 

The corresponding fixture last term was memorable for two brilliantly-taken goals by Premier League debutant Marcus Rashford - and in Zlatan's absence it's likely he will play up top so let's hope he can repeat that feat this time around! 

Form guide: United W L W D L W Arsenal W D W W W D
Match odds: United 8/5 Draw 23/10 Arsenal 13/8 
Referee: Andre Marriner 

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