Manchester United vs Arsenal Preview (December 2, 2021)

Written By Uttiyo Sarkar on November 30, 2021

Manchester United finally seems to have stopped the rot that threatened to plague their entire season. Now, they embark on a new journey under new interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

Things are about to change considerably under Rangnick, who prefers a high-octane pressing style similar to Jurgen Klopp’s at Liverpool. However, the motto in their next Premier League game against Arsenal is simple – just win at any cost.

United are unlikely to deploy a vastly different system against the Gunners. They’ll have to stay true to the club’s ever-bearing philosophy – that is attack, attack & attack until they break the stubborn Arsenal backline and end their winless streak in the league.

Manchester United Likely XI

De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Bruno, Sancho, Rashford, Ronaldo

Raphael Varane & Paul Pogba are still out with injuries. Edinson Cavani & Luke Shaw could return, as will Harry Maguire after serving his suspension.

Arsenal Likely XI

Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Lokonga, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette

Bukayo Saka could miss this game after suffering an injury against Newcastle United. Granit Xhaka & Saed Kolasinac are also ruled out.

Manchester United vs Arsenal Preview

The fortunes of Man United and Arsenal have significantly changed in recent months. At the start of the season, the Red Devils were flying high while the Gunners lost their first 3 league games. But the tides have turned.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ended up losing his job and Mikel Arteta seems to be orchestrating a new revolution. These two ‘legacy clubs’ are still trying to rediscover their past glories but stumbling along the line. Because of their current situation, don’t be surprised if the upcoming game is a cagey battle.

United last won a league game at Old Trafford during Cristiano Ronaldo’s memorable second debut against Newcastle in September. If the Red Devils want to win in mid-week, they’ll need him scoring again. The Portuguese forward is likely to start after being benched against Chelsea.

He just needs to put his superior experience to good use, getting in key areas & finishing away chances decisively. Behind him, partner-in-crime Bruno Fernandes has lots to do to dismiss his ‘big game flop’ reputation. The midfielder must stop his risky nature & has to be composed in delivering quick, incisive passes to create chances.

Jadon Sancho seems to have rediscovered his swagger having scored in the last two games. The Englishman must use his tricky style to bamboozle the Arsenal backline, burst into attacking areas and set up as well as try to score chances.

Marcus Rashford’s yet to hit the ground running this season. While his movement, burst of pace is still impressive, Rashy has to be clinical inside the opposition area & improve his decision-making to improve his fortunes.

Fred seems to be best suited to fit Rangnick’s high press style because of his incredible energy levels. He needs to be the lively beast he was on Sunday to hassle the opposition midfielders, steal away possession and get the ball forward quicker.

Scott McTominay’s aggressiveness is admirable, but he needs to be more composed & decisive with his challenges to protect his backline. The problem, for now, remains to fix United’s defensive shape. Against Chelsea, they were fortunate that David de Gea’s heroics and some horrible finishing saved their blushes.

Harry Maguire’s back, but nobody knows whether that’s actually a good thing or not. The Englishman’s been very error-prone this season and is lacking in confidence. To silence his doubters, Maguire has to be defensively more alert & prepared to make clutch challenges.

Victor Lindelof’s experiencing some good form and he must be sharp to cover for Maguire as well as make key defensive contributions to keep Arsenal quiet. Aaron Wan-Bissaka also has to rediscover his razor-sharp defending from last season to keep Emile Smith Rowe & Pierre Emerick Aubameyang quiet.

Luke Shaw has got much to prove to keep his first-team spot under Rangnick. The Gunners might be struggling for goals this season, but have enough quality to pounce on mistakes. Aubameyang’s a clinical goal-scorer who doesn’t need too much room to threaten inside the box.

Alexandre Lacazette can help create chances with his link-up play as well as convert them decisively. Smith Rowe’s operating like a menacing firecracker in Arsenal’s attack, creating clever chances and being a menace on counter-attacks. Gabriel Martinelli is high on form after an impressive goal against Newcastle, which proved how dangerous he can be in front of goal.

Arsenal are obviously aided by the commendable defensive shape. New signings Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu & Aaron Ramsdale have brought impressive change. Ramsdale is especially difficult to score past, as he possesses some excellent reflexes. United have to be very innovative to break the Gunners’ backline and get shots past the goalkeeper.

Their own goalkeeper, De Gea has to be alert to make a barrage of saves again. While they have to be defensively strong like against Chelsea, United must improve their attacking tempo. If they’re just as negative/defensive against Arsenal and unable to show more hunger & desire to get goals, Old Trafford could witness another bore-fest.

Prediction

I’m weirdly conflicted about this game. My brain says it’ll be a shabby draw, but heart says a win. I’ll go for United to continue their ‘new manager bounce’ and get a gritty 2-1 win.

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Uttiyo Sarkar

An unbiased Manchester United die-hard. Lover of the beautiful game. Addicted to the Premier League and beyond. Hopeful writer in the search for the greater good.

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