Manchester United will face Arsenal in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on New Year’s Day. In the evening kick off, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be tasked to better the 1-1 draw between the two sides at Old Trafford in September. New Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is seeking his first victory for the club after seeing a 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 defeat late in the game against Chelsea at the weekend.
This confirms that Arsenal are still Arsenal and for that reason, United should be able to get the result that they desire. Keeping their heads will be key in the game, as will be taking the game to Arsenal and nullifying them on the attack to hit them where it hurts. The Emirates has been a happy hunting ground for United of late despite losing this fixture last season, they won there in the FA Cup by the same scoreline as the 3-1 victory there in the league last season.
Hopefully, the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard will return to the starting XI for this game – Lingard loves it at the Emirates and if he can get himself into similar form as previous visits, it could be a good game for United. Brandon Williams needs to keep his place in the team as his rise in the left-back position, for me, sees him ahead of Luke Shaw. Here is my predicted starting XI and why I have selected each player.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper kept his first clean sheet in the Premier League in 15 matches against Burnley. This will lift his confidence. He has performed some good saves against Newcastle and Burnley, even against Watford, although that was a defeat. He’s the best goalkeeper at the club and deserves to be stuck by because of the fact he’s stuck y the club, especially over the past six seasons with United a shade of the club that they used to be. De Gea in form is an outstanding player and confidence and good performances for the club will help him get back to where he was not all that long ago.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams
United have many options in defence. Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will keep their places in the centre of defence against Arsenal. The pair play well against the bigger clubs who will throw a challenge at United. Maguire has improved over the last few matches and has been seeking his first goal for the club, which has so far ben elusive. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will return to the starting XI after sitting out the trip to Burnley as an unused substitute. Many would think Luke Shaw would be back in the team for this match but for the way Brandon Williams played against Burnley, I would pick him ahead of Shaw based on what he offers to the team – he’s going to be a talent in the years to come and could well have the left-back position as his own before the end of the season.
Midfield: Fred, Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba needs to be fit to face Arsenal. He has played against Watford and Newcastle United during the Festive period and sat the trip to Burnley out as it could have been too much for him – they tackle hard and that could have sent him back to the treatment table once again. The Frenchman will want to be fit to face Arsenal. Fred could be picked to partner Pogba in the centre of midfield. The Brazilian has played well this season and over the past few months, you can see the improvement in his game. This is a good thing as he heads into the second half of the season, with plenty for United still to achieve.
Attacking Midfielders: Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford
The attacking trio behind the striker need to have ability on and off the ball, pace and the hunger to score and create goals. Daniel James has been a class act this season, scoring three goals and assisting six more. One more goal or assist will put his contribution to ten goals this season, after a rise from the Championship, this is a good start for him. Jesse Lingard seems to play well against Arsenal at the Emirates and his dancing will burst some blood vessels if he finds a goal and a good start to 2020. He has been lacklustre in 2019, it could be the start of a good year for him. Marcus Rashford is the clubs top scorer this season, having 16 goals so far. He will be seeking to add to his tally against Arsenal, the club he scored his first Premier League goals against.
Striker: Anthony Martial
The Frenchman scored three goals in the past week as United beat Newcastle United and Burnley making it ten goals for him so far this season. Granted, he needs to offer more goals to be a good striker worthy of a place in the team but against Burnley, he seemed to be more available in the box. With the likes of Pogba in the team, which could bring more creativity, Martial could have more chances to turn into goals. Scoring against Arsenal will be something he will want to do and something Arsenal will be tying to avert.
Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic; Mason Greenwood
United may need to keep something in reserve on the bench in order to throw everything that they have against Arsenal. Sergio Romero will keep his place on the bench but could be recalled at the weekend to face Wolves. Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe, if fit, could occupy places on the bench to cover the fullback and central defensive roles. In midfield, the experience of Juan Mata, the rise in form of Andreas Pereira and the defensive abilities of Nemanja Matic could be called upon. Mason Greenwood will be the only attacking player on the bench and he is hungry for a goal or two of late.