Manchester United will travel to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the Premier League. Fresh from their humiliation of a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool on Tuesday evening, Ralf Rangnick’s side will need to take on a resurgent Arsenal, who are in much better form.
Granted, Arsenal have won just twice in their last six matches, losing four of them but they have a game in hand over United, which will still be the case after this weekend. Their 4-2 victory over Chelsea was not expected, which still gives United a chance for top four, but not a great one.
United’s match against Liverpool was dire to watch. There was no real fight or urgency and it was not something that we have never seen before – this is a regular occurrence in this team and has happened under five different managers now, suggesting that is it a player problem.
This mentality cannot continue and now that Erik ten Hag has been named as the new United manager, signing a three-year contract, this team os supposed professionals will need to start pulling their weight as I doubt they will be given a multitude of chances, only to keep failing.
Previous meetings with Arsenal and their connections with United.
United and Arsenal have met 59 times in the Premier League. United have won 25 times, drawn 18 times with Arsenal winning 16 times. United have scored 81 goals, winning seven penalties, scoring five. Arsenal have scored 63 goals, winning four penalties, scoring two.
United have kept 17 clean sheets with Arsenal keeping 19. Discipline has been an issue with United players receiving 120 yellow cards and five red cards and Arsenal players being shown 124 yellow cards and four red cards. United need to bounce back from the Liverpool annihilation.
Paddy Sloan, David Herd, Ian Ure, George Graham, Jimmy Rimmer, Brian Kidd, Frank Stapleton, Viv Anderson, Jim Leighton, David Platt, Andy Cole, Mikael Silvestre, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck, Henrikh Mkhitarayan and Alexis Sanchez have all played for both clubs.
The most successful of these is Van Persie who helped United to their last Premier League title victory in the final season of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign of the club. He made 105 appearances for United, scoring 58 goals and 21 assists, winning the trophy that evaded him at Arsenal.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Arsenal in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea will need to be at the top of his game to face Arsenal as he cannot really depend on the defence to do their job. Liverpool were all over United and they were lucky to only concede four goals – it could have been so much worse for the Red Devils.
De Gea is a professional and he will be wanting to end the season on a high, especially in the fact they now know who the new manager of the club will be, none other than Erik ten Hag of Ajax. De Gea will want to impress as he has another year left on his contract.
Whilst Dean Henderson will be seeking to play some matches in the season run in, it would seem unlikely as he has been used sparingly and not played for months. If he is to get some game time, he will need to play for the U23’s to get his fitness up as it will not work for him otherwise.
Defenders: Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelöf, Raphaël Varane, Alex Telles
United’s defence is at a point whereby the season is over for them and instead of fighting for the best they can get, they have given up. The captain, Harry Maguire has been terrible this season and his form does not seem to eb improving consistently. Perhaps he’s too weak for United?
The captain should be dropped for this match as he did little of note against Liverpool. With Raphael Varane back in training, he should start with Victor Lindelöf if he is fit enough to as it will give United something to work with for this important match.
Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles should start in the fullback positions as they are perhaps the best options with Luke Shaw still on the sidelines and Aaron Wan-Bissaka looking like an untalented academy player following his performance against Liverpool.
Midfield: Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, Jesse Lingard
The midfield is still no better off with Scott McTominay back in training after his bench appearance against Liverpool. It would seem that Paul Pogba is out of action, possible for the remainder of the season, which will be for the best as he does not seem to care about the club.
With Fred still on the sidelines and the fact that the U23’s will be in action on Friday evening, McTominay should cover the defensive role in the midfield with Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard in the attacking positions. It is the best United could hope for at this stage of the season.
Lingard did well against Norwich City but kind of stuttered against Liverpool, however, he was a lot better that the majority of his teammates. Fernandes needs to find some form and rid himself of his frustration. He’s got a future at United but just needs to simplify things a little more to succeed.
Forwards: Anthony Elanga, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho
The attacking line is a problem for United, especially if Cristiano Ronaldo does not play. After the tragedy in his family, and missing the Liverpool match, he returned to training earlier in the week and should be fit to start against Arsenal. It will not be an easy match though.
Anthony Elanga should keep his place in the team as he is much better that Marcus Rashford, who really did not achieve much against Liverpool, which is the story of his season. United will need to have the best of their available players to perform, otherwise it will be a negative again.
Jadon Sancho should also start and he needs to start performing. He only recently started to find some form and that was quickly lost. With a new manager coming in so soon after he arrived, he will need to get something working or he could find himself on the bench and soon out of it all.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Juan Mata, Nemanja Matić, Hannibal Mejbri; Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho
Rangnick will need to get his substitutes right for this match. There will need to be some good options on the bench who will try their best for United and push to get something from the match. After the Liverpool match, there are few of these players in the squad.
Dean Henderson will remain on the bench. Defenders Phil Jones, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could be called upon if a defensive change is needed. A three at the back formation would probably not work as United suffered on Tuesday at Anfield.
In midfield, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matić and Hannibal Mejbri could all be called upon, depending on whether the Tunisian international plays for the U23s on Friday evening. In attack, Marcs Rashford and Alejandro Ganracho could be available, again if Garnacho does not feature for the U23s.
Written by John Walker