Key Battles: Pogba to boost United, Herrera to stalk his prey!


Manchester United will head to North London to face Arsenal at the Emirates in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. The second match between the two clubs this season; the first resulting in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford with Juan Mata scoring the opener in the 68th minute, Olivier Giroud equalising in the last-minute of the match. Jose Mourinho’s side will be looking to register another three points in the league after enduring two draws in the league, drawing 0-0 with Manchester City and 1-1 with Swansea City. Returning to winning ways in the league will be important in United’s 59th match of the season, three massive points will be needed to ensure United remain above Arsenal in fifth, with a chance to break into the top four.

Arsenal face Southampton in the week which means if they win both matches, United could find themselves in sixth again ahead of a visit to Tottenham Hotspur to play the last competitive match at White Hart Lane with Spurs nursing a defeat to West Ham United on Friday evening, near enough ending their Premier League title chase of Chelsea, who face Middlesbrough on Monday evening and are now six points away from clinching the league title. There will be battles on the Emirates pitch; here are three of them…

Eric Bailly -v- Alexis Sanchez

Eric Bailly is still the man of the moment for Manchester United, the beating heart of the defence and the player who is key to earning three points at the Emirates this weekend. Bailly, who was injured last weekend, was fit to face Celta Vigo on Thursday evening, playing 90 minutes and looking raring to go for Sunday. United have been boosted by the return to training of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, the latter returned to the team as a late substitute against the Spanish side. Bailly has had a great season at United, leading the defence and battling the key players of the opposition, thwarting their chances and being the man between them and scoring a goal, most of the time at least. The Ivorian average nine defensive actions per league match, having an 87% pass success rate and is yet to make a defensive error for his club. Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal’s talisman could find it hard against Bailly. The Chilean has scored 19 goals in 33 league appearances this season, creating 74 chances and generally being a threat in front of goal. Bailly and his teammates could stop that, though.

Paul Pogba -v- Aaron Ramsey

Paul Pogba returned to the starting XI against Celta Vigo on Thursday night after missing the last few matches through injury, strengthening the squad in midfield, seemingly back to his best. United with Pogba in their team have had a strong midfield, with the Frenchman getting into the forward position also, creating chances for his teammates, sending a shot or two towards goal himself. Pogba has four Premier League goals in 29 appearances this season, having a shot accuracy of 41%, which is not that bad, also boasting an 85% pass success rate, helping his side maintain possession. Pogba can defend too when the need arises, averaging three defensive actions per match. Partnered in midfield with Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick, Pogba will be free to do his stuff, which could see his faces with Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal’s former shining star. The Welshman has made 18 appearances this season, still yet to score a goal. With the absence of Granit Xhaka, Ramsey could key the key to Arsenal’s midfield. Ramsey has created one chance for his teammates, offers a passing accuracy of 89% and averages at least one defensive action per match. Against United, should they be fired up, Ramsey will need to have a big game.

Ander Herrera -v- Mesut Ozil

Ander Herrera has been pitted against the best this season, nullifying Chelsea winger Eden Hazard out of the match United won 2-0 at Old Trafford weeks ago. The Spanish midfielder could be tasked to take on Mesut Ozil, of even Alexis Sanchez, depending on the formation Arsenal play. I think Ozil will be the player, who is not exactly the most creative in the team but has something to offer this failing Arsenal side. Herrera has played in 28 league matches this season, scoring one goal. The Spaniard has an 88% pass success rate, 22% shot accuracy and has created 37 chances for his teammates. Herrera is a player that can run, mark his man to a very good standard, getting involved with every move they make like Jaws stalking his prey. Ozil has played in 28 league matches, scoring seven goals this season. He has created 73 chances for his teammates, boasting a shot accuracy of 56% and a passing success rate of 87%. Ozil may not be a big game player, seemingly going missing time after time, but in his moment of magic, he could be the player to inspire victory, which is why Herrera will be tasked to nullify him like he did with Hazard.

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