Tuesday 4 December 2018

Match preview: Man Utd v Arsenal

Under fire United boss Jose Mourinho is set to shuffle his pack again with the club hit by an injury crisis ahead of the visit of Unai Emery's in-form Gunners.
Emery was only instilled at the Emirates in the summer but, five months into hs debut season in English football, already has Arsenal in fine fettle, unbeaten in 19 ties having not lost since defeat at Chelsea in the second week of the season. They were mightily impressive in a come-from-behind victory in the north London derby on Sunday.
Although Arsenal have a woeful record at Old Trafford - they've not won there since 2006 in the league - they come into this one as favourites for the first time in a long while. Emery has never beaten his Portuguese opposite number in four manageral meetings, but he will never have a better chance to end that record in this one.
 The Reds have gone three league matches without a win and are in the midst of our worst season in recent history.

Mourinho is set to name a banter, makeshift defence with Ashley Young suspended and Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling (foot) and Eric Bailly (back) all out. Victor Lindelof is also sidelined, with Romelu Lukaku and Luke Shaw doubtful. Alexis Sanchez will miss out as well against his former side and Marcus Rashford picked up a knock against the Saints. That could mean that Mourinho deploys the same back three that we saw at Southampton last time out with Phil Jones alongside Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic. They face the unenviable task of shackling the Premier League's top scorer Pierre - Emerick Aubameyang (12) who, in tandem with Alexandre Lacazette (seven goals), have been key for the Gunners this season. Diogo Dalot and Marcos Rojo, an unused sub at St Mary's, may come in.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are assessing the fitness of Mesut Ozil (back), Laurent Koscielny (Achilles) and Nacho Monreal (hamstring). Granit Xhaka is suspended after accumulating five yellow cards, like Young, while former Reds forward Danny Welbeck is a long-term injury victim.

Mourinho said: "We are again going to be in difficulty to build a 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.”

This is the first time in the Premier League that Manchester United v Arsenal will be played without either Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger in the dugouts. The pair shared the Premier League title for nine seasons between 1996 and 2004 and developed a strong rivalry over the years. Last time the Gunners came to Old Trafford, Wenger was presented with an honorary vase by his old adversaries Sir Alex and Jose, to commemorate the Frenchman’s extraordinary 22-year reign as Arsenal boss.
This fixture may lack the fire and spice of a toxic hatred at its peak, but its still a massive game and one that we always look out for on the calendar.

Form guide: United W W L D W D Arsenal D D D W W W
Match odds: United 16/11 Draw 13/5 Arsenal 1/3 (Oddschecker)
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

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