Arsenal vs Manchester United: Premier League Match Preview and Prediction
Two Premier League behemoths will renew their famed rivalry as Arsenal host Manchester United in a blockbuster clash on New Year's Day.
Mikel Arteta will be looking for his first win as Arsenal manager while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s united will look to inflict further damage onto their top four rivals.
Arsenal are having a nightmare season. They have lost six matches already and are closer to the bottom three than the top three.
We saw an improved Arsenal last time around as they narrowly lost to Chelsea at home. They lead by a solitary goal for the majority of the game but conceded twice in the last ten minutes to succumb to another bitter defeat.
The Red Devils, on the other hand, started the season well but faltered in the middle. They have now picked up pace and are on a decent run of form having won their last two matches.
They comfortably won away at Burnley in the last gameweek with both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial on the score-sheet. This was their eighth win this season.
The Gunners sit 12th in the table with just 24 points to their name. On top of that, they have lost four consecutive home matches in all competitions for the first time since December 1959.
Manchester United have fared better than the Gunners as they sit fifth in the table with 31 points. Their key players are also in form and the team is slowly but steadily coming back to their rampant best.
Last time out
Spoils were shared when these two teams met last time around at “The Theatre of Dreams”. Pierre-Emerick Aubaeyang cancelled out a Scott McTominay thunderbolt early into the second-half to prize away a point for the Gunners.
For Arsenal, Calum Chambers limped off against Chelsea with a knee injury and could reportedly miss the remainder of the season. Shkodran Mustafi could get in the side if Sokratis does not recover from his own injury in time.
Arteta will be hoping to have former captain Granit Xhaka available. It will also be interesting to see if club record signing Nicolas Pepe gets in ahead of Reiss Nelson or not.
For United, Paul Pogba didn’t make the trip down to London and is set to miss his second game in a row. With Scott McTominay still sidelined with a knee injury, Nemanja Matic could start once again for the away side.
First choice full-backs, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka will return to the side after being rested at the weekend. Daniel James and Mason Greenwood will compete for a starting spot on the right wing.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Aaron Wan-Bissaka
One can’t help but wonder the Gunners’ plight if the Gabonese international were not in their team. He has single-handedly saved their blushes plenty of times this season.
The reigning Golden Boot winner is one of the fastest players on the planet and he uses it to devastating effect. In addition to his pace, he has a knack of being at the perfect place and the perfect time. The former Borussia Dortmund forward is an instinctive shooter and United will have to be wary of that.
The onus of stopping Aubameyang will be in the able hands of Aaron Wan-Bissaka. The former Crystal Palace man is a no-nonsense defender, who love going into tackles and comes up with the ball more often than not. He has racked up 73 tackles in the season so far, which is the third highest in the league.
Aubameyang will play on the left-wing and will try to make runs behind the United defence at any given opportunity. He will also drift inside and will try bringing Wan-Bissaka with him to provide space for his teammates. Wan-Bissaka has to read the game well and not be fooled by Aubameyang’s movement.
Wan-Bissaka has been one of United’s best players this season. We have seen his potential when he neutralized Raheem Sterling to help his team win the Manchester Derby and we may see an encore of that performance.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles vs Marcus Rashford
This is a battle of two English youngsters, who are playing out of position. Maitland-Niles is a central midfielder, who is deputizing in Hector Bellerin’s absence. At the same time Rashford is a central striker, who has found his calling on the left wing.
Maitland-Niles will come up against one of the form players in the league in Rashford. He has to rein in his aggressive instinct to stop the United number 10. The 22-year old has pace to burn, which will come in handy in stopping Rashford in his tracks.
Rashford is on a red hot streak as he has scored 12 times in the league so far, which is his best return in a season. He has made United’s left wing his own and it comes as no surprise that most of their attacks stems from the left wing.
The United number 10 is fast, has all the tricks in the book and possess a mean free-kick. Gunners have to be careful as one lapse of concentration will lead to Rashford free on goal. It will be an entertaining battle between two young Englishmen.
Arsenal looked like a different team in their defeat to Chelsea. Their intensity and fluid one-touch passing were back, which can spell trouble for the Red Devils.
United will want to continue their upward stride in the table to clinch one of the four Champions League spots come the end of the season.
The last five Premier League games against both these sides have been in United’s favour. They have won two, lost one and two games were draws.
Arsenal have also lost their last three home games and have conceded at least two goals in each one of them. Whereas, United is the form team coming into this clash and may well come up with a huge win.
Score Prediction- Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United