Who: Manchester United vs Arsenal
When: Sunday, November 1st @ 11:30am ET
Line: Man U +104 | Draw +270| Arsenal +250
Just as it seemed like Manchester United couldn’t hurt a fly at Old Trafford, they silenced their doubters with an absolute romping of last season’s UEFA Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig on Wednesday. They’ve come a long way since THAT loss to Tottenham and rediscovered their swagger at home again.
But consistency is the name of the game for any top side. United have been quite bipolar in recent months in which they are exceptional in one game & underwhelming in another. They need to ensure they maintain their fantastic form against Arsenal, whom they last defeated at home in 2018! The Gunners look a more settled side under Mikel Arteta & won’t make things as easy as Leipzig did, meaning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side must bring their A-game or risk dropping points at home again.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Bruno, Greenwood, Martial, Rashford
New-signing Alex Telles has tested positive for Covid-19, meaning he’ll be out for a few weeks. Eric Bailly & Jesse Lingard are still injured. Expect Ole to rotate his squad a bit more after the mid-week CL game.
Arsenal Likely XI
Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Gabriel, Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Partey, Xhaka, Aubameyang, Saka, Lacazette
Arsenal have a bit of a crisis at the back, with defenders Rob Holding & Pablo Mari both injured for the long-term. Arteta should still have enough players to go with his unique 3-4-3 formation.
Manchester United vs Arsenal preview
United proved just how good they can be on their day in the demolition job of Leipzig, absolutely outplaying them before ripping them apart towards the end. But the true virtue of their ultimate power can only come to light if they’re able to replicate the heroics against Arsenal.
The Gunners won’t gift them chances or take too many risks like Leipzig did, causing their demise at Old Trafford. Arteta knows how to set up a system guaranteed to frustrate the most prominent of attacking sides – and United’s frontline is known for being polarizing. OGS & co cannot let their guard down on Sunday after what they achieved in mid-week.
In fact, there will be need for improvisations & changes to their attacking style if they’re to break down Arsenal’s stubborn backline. For one, they won’t play a mindless high-line which allows United’s wingers to easily march through on goal. Nor will they give the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes or Anthony Martial much space to operate.
While not exactly ‘parking the bus’, but AFC are known for putting 7-8 men at the back when defending in big games. It’ll be a true test for United’s promising attackers to show they can break down the strongest of barriers. Rashford, who just can’t stop excelling in whatever he does right now, must continue his clever runs behind defenders & continue tricking them with his menacing movement.
The Englishman seems to be improving his finishing & needs to make most use of any opportunities that come to him on Sunday. Martial might’ve scored his first of the season against Leipzig, but still seemed indecisive/rusty in the final third. He must shake off his cobwebs and be more ruthless with his work around the penalty area to terrorize the Gunners.
Fernandes has a date with AFC’s big signing Thomas Partey, who is known for being a monster in midfield. Partey can do everything in midfield & is excellent defensively, known for his impressive ability to dispossess opponents & make key interceptions. Bruno needs to make the best use of his IQ to get past his man & cause chaos in the final third with his crisp passing & goal-scoring hunger.
Mason Greenwood should get a start after his heroics against Leipzig and he needs to make those clever runs behind defenders & slot his emphatic shots on target to trouble Bernd Leno. Fred can’t do anything wrong right now & must maintain his hound-like persona in midfield to deny the Gunners space to move forward.
Arsenal might be struggling for too many goals, but they still have a devastating frontline. Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng has only 1 Premier League goal this season, but everyone knows his quality to dispatch the ball into the net & be a nightmare in the front. Bukayo Saka & Alexander Lacazette are both unpredictable threats in the front-line, while wing-backs Hector Bellerin & Ainsley Maitland-Niles can easily cause chaos with their forward runs.
United might have 2 clean sheets in as many games, but cannot afford any lapses in concentration. Victor Lindelof & Harry Maguire must keep their cool and continue making clutch challenges to frustrate AFC’s forwards. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has a formidable role defending against Aubameyang & he must continue his brilliant form to ensure nobody finds pace on his flank.
This should be a tight affair with United being frustrated with Arsenal’s stubborn defending, but whether or not they’re able to find a breakthrough in uncomfortable situations will test their credentials as a top team. If they end up losing their cool, however, the Gunners won’t hesitate to deal the knockout blows.
This will probably be a cagey affair but I think due to their promising form & confidence levels, United should grind out a 2-1 win.