Old Trafford, Manchester
Premier League 2016/17
Saturday 19th November 2016 – KO 12:30
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistant Referees: Simon Beck and Andy Garratt
Fourth Official: Michael Oliver
Manchester United entertain Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. Last season, United won this fixture 3-2 with Marcus Rashford scoring a brace and Ander Herrera adding the third goal. United have a great record against Arsenal at Old Trafford, winning 15 matches, drawing six and losing just three times in 24 encounters; the last defeat a decade ago with Arsenal winning 1-0. United seem to have their fair share of injuries right now which will see Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly on the sidelines, possibly. One or two might be fit to face Arsenal, but that looks unlikely at this moment in time, although rumour suggests Valencia could return. Jose Mourinho has doubts with Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini also, who were both withdrawn from international squads over the past week with Rooney playing for England against Scotland and Fellaini not playing any matches for Belgium.
Mourinho has a great record against Arsene Wenger, albeit with Chelsea, but in 15 matches, Wenger only got the better of him once; the FA Community Shield at the start of last season – drawing six matches and Mourinho winning eight. The Portuguese manager will want to keep his record against his fierce rival in tact, stopping the Frenchman from getting a second win against his side. United will be fired up to face their rivals, taking points off them which will thwart their title challenge this season, but all said and done, they seem to thwart that themselves by playing poor football and being defensively frail at various points of the season. Last season, Arsenal should have taken control of the league with all other contenders being poor, but Leicester City took control and won the league, with Arsenal finishing second, not their usual fourth place. Post-Wenger, Arsenal could struggle, just like United have, despite the Arsenal faithful suggesting otherwise – they must be able to read the future.
United will be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who received his fifth booking against Swansea, missing this match, which will see one of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial or even Wayne Rooney lead the line. Rashford would be the better option with Martial on the left-wing, which will give United the pace to get something against Arsenal, counteracting their available pace. United’s defence may be where the problems lie though with a makeshift defence consisting of four from the following; Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw. Those names do not fill me with confidence right now, but neither did they against Swansea and United played very good football, as they should with the players available for them this season.
Ander Herrera will be back from suspension after missing the visit to Swansea which was the result of him being sent off against Burnley at Old Trafford. United will need to keep one eye on the UEFA Europa League clash with Feyenoord on Thursday next week, along with the visit of West Ham United the following Sunday in the league, then the following Wednesday in the EFL Cup. United have a busy end to November, but December will top that with many matches being played during the festive period, which is normally, under Sir Alex Ferguson at least, the time United get stuck in and get the business done. Last season it was a period where United suffered an eight match winless run with speculation suggesting Louis van Gaal would be sacked, but that came almost five months later in May 2016.
Manchester United Form:- WLDWL
Swansea City 3-1 W, Fenerbahçe 2-1 L, Burnley 0-0 D, Manchester City 1-0 W, Chelsea 4-0 L
Manchester United still need to put more effort into beating their opposition or this season will be just another failure after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. Jose Mourinho has reinforced the side considerably, but the United of the last three years still manages to show itself. A 3-1 victory over Swansea in the last match before the international break will have been a confidence booster, one which needs to be taken into the match against Arsenal with United not taking anything less that a win away from the match. Eight points separate United from the top of the league, not a hugh gap, but dropping points will only add to that, giving them a much harder task to get back into the UEFA Champions League next season.
Arsenal Form:- DWWWD
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 D, Ludogorets Razgrad 3-2 W, Sunderland 4-1 W, Reading 2-0 W, Middlesbrough 0-0 D
Arsenal have started the season well, be that does not change the past for them. United have won the majority of matches in the Premier League played at Old Trafford with Arsenal last winning there a decade ago. United need to continue that trend, with Arsenal risking their good form so far this season should that happen. Arsene Wenger’s side will be confident, especially with United in another injury plagued run with three defensive options likely to be out of the match, which could be make or break this season. Arsenal will want to end a decade of being winless at the Theatre of Dreams, also getting the better of Jose Mourinho, which Wenger has achieved once in 15 encounters in all competitions.
Manchester United Top Scorers:
8 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 – Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, 3 – Juan Mata, 2 – Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney, 1 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling
Arsenal Top Scorers:
8 – Alexis Sánchez, Theo Walcott, 7 – Mesut Özil, 5 – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 3 – Olivier Giroud, Granit Xhaka, 2 – Santiago Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny, Lucas Pérez Martínez, 1 – Calum Chambers
Manchester United Squad;
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Goalkeepers: David De Gea, Sergio Romero, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe
Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin
Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
Injuries and Suspensions: Wayne Rooney (knee), Marouane Fellaini (calf), Antonio Valencia (broken arm), Eric Bailly (knee), Chris Smalling (foot)
Manager: Arsene Wenger
Goalkeepers: David Ospina, Emiliano Martínez, Petr Čech
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Gabriel Paulista, Laurent Koscielny, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi, Héctor Bellerín, Carl Jenkinson
Midfielders: Alexis Sánchez, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, Granit Xhaka, Jeff Reine-Adélaïde, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny
Forwards: Lucas Pérez, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi, Yaya Sanogo, Danny Welbeck, Chuba Akpom
Injuries and Suspensions: Héctor Bellerín (ankle), Lucas Pérez (ankle), Santi Cazorla (Achilles), Chuba Akpom (back), Per Mertesacker (knee), Danny Welbeck (knee)
Predicted Starting XI:
Manchester United put in a good performance against Swansea City, which was partly down to the fact the Welsh side are poor this season after managerial changes. United needed the victory though to get something back in the league having not won a match since late September, in the Premier League at least. United need to dig deep against Arsenal, and with injuries sure to cost the team, especially in defence, it could be one of those days. It could quite easily see United dominate, as has been the case recently when first choice players were not fit. Phil Jones should make his second start this season, which could help him to find some good form and put his injury spell behind him once and for all.
Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal
I was not confident with United getting the result in Swansea, which was based on the last two visits to Wales and the fact Swansea seemed to be a bogey side for United post-Ferguson. Arsenal will be a big encounter, and Manchester City aside, this season United have done what they needed to do tactically on the pitch to grind out the result. Hopefully Jose Mourinho does not set his side up to draw as three points against Arsenal could be a great coup this season, being that there is a gap of eight points between United in sixth place and Liverpool at the top of the league. Should the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester City all drop points this weekend, it could be another good weekend for United, who need to find form and get back into the swing of things, or face up to things escaping them again this season and it ending up with United scraping for the Europa League or worse – no European football at all, which will hit the revenue stream severely.