Manchester United will come up against Unai Emery’s Arsenal at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Monday evening. This is a much-awaited clash but one which surely has a lack of confidence with United in poor form this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will need to have fight, desire, determination and a way of finding goals.
Since the opening match of the season where United beat Chelsea 4-0, Solskjaer’s side has not looked like scoring a second goal in any match they have played since. In the Premier League, they have kept clean sheets in the Chelsea match and a match against Leicester City a fortnight ago. This is not going to be great reading.
Solskjaer’s side has lost twice in the league, once against Crystal Palace and last week against West Ham. Then there are two 1-1 draws against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton. United recently beat Astana 1-0 in the UEFA Europa League, drawing 1-1 with Rochdale in the Carabao Cup, winning 5-3 on penalties.
Talking about penalties, United have been awarded three in the league this season, two were scored by Marcus Rashford (Chelsea and Leicester City), two–thirds of his goals this season, one was missed by Paul Pogba (Wolves). United seem to be better from the penalty spot than they are creating goals, at this moment in time anyway, which could change.
Key Players: Are these the key players for each team in a bid to win all three points on offer at the Theatre of Dreams?
Manchester United: David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay, Daniel James, Mason Greenwood
Arsenal: Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, David Luiz, Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Key Battles: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Daniel James and Mason Greenwood versus Sead Kolasinac, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and David Luiz.
Key Battle One: Aaron Wan-Bissaka versus Sead Kolasinac
The 21-year-old right-back has been in great form since signing for United in the summer. It is no coincidence that Solskjaer’s three signings are the best three players at the club this season. I guess the more you tell people this, the more they might believe and acknowledge. Aaron Wan-Bissaka might have to break forward a lot more against Arsenal, providing width.
One player that he might be up against could be Sead Kolasinac. The fullback has played four times in the Premier League for Arsenal this season and has seen his side concede six goals, which is not all that great. He has a 67% tackle success, which Wan-Bissaka may need to be wary of, also making one interception, eight clearances and 15 recoveries.
Key Battle Two: Daniel James versus Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Daniel James has so far proven himself as a bargain after making his £15 million transfer from Swansea City in the summer. Playing six times for United in the Premier League this season, the Welsh winger has scored three goals, the same number of goal Alexis Sanchez scored in 32 appearances at the club. A great replacement for the Chilean.
James has looked dangerous on the attack for United every time he has played and has been unlucky not to have scored more goals. One player in the Arsenal ranks he could be up against is Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The Greek international has played six times this season, has a 75% tackle success, five interceptions, 23 clearances and 26 recoveries.
Key Battle Three: Mason Greenwood versus David Luiz
The teenager has played four times in the Premier League this season for United and is yet to score his first goal in the league. However, in the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup, Mason Greenwood has scored twice, in successive matches, missing the league defeat to West Ham United due to illness. Greenwood has a 50% shooting accuracy.
Greenwood could well be tasked with leading the line against Arsenal, which for the player who will be 18 on Tuesday, could be a huge task. One Arsenal player he could battle against is David Luiz, who made the move from Chelsea to the club in the summer. Luiz has a 40% tackle success, has played four times, has seven interceptions and 30 clearances.