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Predicted XI: [4-3-1-2] Rashford and Greenwood to lead the line? A midfield diamond against the Gunners?

Manchester United return to Premier League action by welcoming Arsenal to Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. United may have started October with a devastating defeat to Tottenham Hotspur but ended in a high with a 5-0 thriller against RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team turning their fortunes around. Mikel Arteta will be seeking to get back to winning ways after two defeats in the Premier League; Manchester City 1-0 and Leicester City 1-0 and might feel they have what it takes to defeat United because of their position in the league, which at the time of writing was 15th – Arsenal were 11th.

Despite being without Anthony Martial for the third match in the league, having the player available to play in the Champions League, the arrival of Edinson Cavani during the summer transfer window gave United another option, despite the fact the Uruguayan has not yet started a match for the club, which could come this weekend. Marcus Rashford is also in good form, scoring five goals in his last five matches, also adding two assists. Solskjaer will be happy with the player who has excelled both on and off the pitch recently. Fred is also a player worthy of the plaudits with his form in October becoming outstanding, which suggests he could start again.

United have a busy month in November, starting with the home clash with Arsenal, then an away trip to Turkey to face Istanbul Basaksehir (4/11) in the Champions League before travelling to Goodison Park to face Everton in the Premier League (7/11). The final international break of 2020 will then see club football on hold for a fortnight. United then face West Bromwich Albion (21/11) in the Premier League and welcome Istanbul Basaksehir to Old Trafford in the Champions League (24/11) before ending the month away ay St Mary’s to face Southampton in the Premier League. United should be able better their Premier League position.

How United have faired against Arsenal teams in the Premier League.

United and Arsenal have played 56 times in the history of the Premier League. United have won 24, drawn 17 and lost 15 times. United have scored a total of 78 goals against Arsenal with the Gunners scoring 60. United have won six penalties against Arsenal, scoring four with Arsenal winning three and scoring just one. United have kept 16 clean sheets with Arsenal keeping 17 – just one more than United. In terms of discipline, United have been shown 113 yellow cards with Arsenal being shown 120. Five United players have been sent off against Arsenal with the Gunners having four players sent off in this fixture.

At Old Trafford last season, it was a 1-1 draw between these two teams with Scott McTominay, assisted by Marcus Rashford scoring the opening goal inf the 45th minute of the match with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, assisted by Bukaya Saka equalising in the 58th minute to share the points in that match. At the Emirates, United were beaten 2-0 by Arsenal last season with Nicolas Pepe opening the scoring in the eighth minute of the match with Sokratis doubling the lead in the 42nd minute of the match. United have played three matches at Old Trafford in the Premier League so far this season and have two defeats and one draw – winning this is important.

Here is my predicted starting XI to face Arsenal in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon…

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

David De Gea has vastly grown in stature during October with stand out performances against Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig, also playing well against Chelsea. Gone are the thoughts of that defeat to Spurs at the start of the month. A new month brings new challenges for De Gea and United and I am sure both will be up for the challenge. The longer the Spaniard performs well, the greater his confidence grows and the better United will be for it. Solskjaer will be impressed with his goalkeeper, who has performed well, turning his poor form into something to brag about so far.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Axel Tuanzebe, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw

United’s defence have kept two clean sheets in consecutive matches against Chelsea and RB Leipzig, which is a good start and shows the corner that has been turned since the start of October. November is going to be another tough month for United and I am sure the club and the players will be seeking to take that by the scruff of the neck and let their opposition know that United are back and ready to take on all comers. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw should keep their places in the fullback positions and captain Harry Maguire should keep his place. Axel Tuanzebe could do a job against Arsenal after the job he did in Paris just a week and a half ago.

Midfield Diamond: Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Fred, Bruno Fernandes

United have a great set of midfielders this season and the depth is a lot better than it was last season. Many of those players are in form, one is a player who has not started much and the media and agenda-driven supporters create something over nothing to continue their barrage of abuse towards the manager and the club that they apparently support. Against Arsenal, a midfield diamond of Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Fred and Bruno Fernandes could do the job needed by Solskjaer in bettering United’s league position. Donny van de Beek could replace either Fernandes or Pogba in the second half to get the job done, if needed.

Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood

Anthony Martial will sit out one more match due to suspension which means that Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood could feature for United. Rashford scored a hat-trick against Leipzig on Wednesday with Greenwood scoring the first of five goals in that match. It may seem harsh that Edinson Cavani is not going to start for United, given the fact that Martial is suspended for this match but he could be a good impact player from the bench. United have a wealth of talent across the squad this season with just a few changes in the summer. Cavani will get his chance to start in the coming month. Confidence is the key for attacking players.

Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Brandon Williams; Juan Mata, Donny van de Beek, Scott McTominay; Edinson Cavani

Solskjaer has hit back at the Premier League’s choice to reduce the number of substitutions back down to three this season with the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League using up to five for the remainder of the season. Against Arsenal, Dean Henderson will keep his place on the bench but probably will not be needed. In defence, Victor Lindelof and Brandon Williams could be available if needed. In midfield, Juan Mata, Donny van de Beek and Scott McTominay could offer their footballing brains and energy to grind out a result if needed. In attack, Edinson Cavani will be the only attacking minded player with Martial suspended for the final match.

Written by John Walker

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