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Preview: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tactics to prove doubters wrong? United to down the Gunners?

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Manchester United -v- Arsenal

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 1 November 2020, KO 16:30 GMT

Referee: Mike Dean Assistants: Ian Hussin, Dan Robathan

Fourth Official: Anthony Taylor

VAR: Peter Bankes Assistant VAR: Neil Davies

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.

Manchester United: WDWWLW

RB Leipzig 5-0 W, Chelsea 0-0 D, Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 W, Newcastle United 4-1 W, Tottenham Hotspur 6-1 L, Brighton and Hove Albion 3-0 W

Arsenal: WLWLWW

Dundalk 3-0 W, Leicester City 1-0 L, Rapid Wien 2-1 W, Manchester City 1-0 L, Sheffield United 2-1 W, Liverpool 0-0 (5-4) W

Top Scorers: United have scored 22 goals this season with Marcus Rashford seven times, three in his last match. Arsenal have 16 goals this season, considering they have Mikel Arteta.

Manchester United Goals: 7 – Marcus Rashford, 4 – Bruno Fernandes, 2 – Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood, 1 – Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek, Harry Maguire, Own Goal, Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay

United started October with a big defeat to Spurs at Old Trafford and needed to overcome that before the end of the month. However, the international break sat in-between that defeat and the next match. The players had a lot to think about. Against Newcastle, a 4-1 victory was the best result to come of that. United then went on to beat Paris Saint-Germain, draw 0-0 with Chelsea and beat RB Leipzig 5-0. October started out as a tough month for United but November could be even tougher with six matches to be played; three to be played at Old Trafford, three to be played away – two in the Champions League, four in the Premier League.

Arsenal Goals: 3 – Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 2 – Nicolas Pépé, 1 – Bukayo Saka, David Luiz, Gabriel, Joe Willock, Own Goal

Arsenal have not won their last two Premier League matches against both Manchester City (1-0) and Leicester City (1-0). Their last victory in the league was against Sheffield United (2-1) at the start of the month. That said, Arsenal have won their last two Europa League matches against the mighty Rapid Wein (2-1) and Dundalk (3-0) which will give the Gunners some false hope ahead of the trip to the Theatre of Dreams. Of course, Arsenal can be tough opposition but with the form that United are in right now, that should be a worry for the Gunners. This fixture was a draw last season with the reverse a 2-0 defeat for United. That will need to change this season.

Team News: United and Arsenal could be missing five players each ahead of the clash at Old Trafford on Sunday; Alex Telles tested positive to the coronavirus so will be out until he tests negative to the virus.

Solskjaer has some injury and illness issues ahead of the clash with Arsenal. Alex Telles tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the draw with Chelsea and the 5-0 victory over RB Leipzig. He also looks set to miss the clash with Arsenal. United also have four other players out of action; Phil Jones (knee) who has not even been named in the Premier League squad this season, Eric Bailly (muscular), Jesse Lingard (other) who could be out for a few more weeks and Anthony Martial, who will serve his final match suspension following his red card against Spurs at the start of October. United are in good shape though so these absences should not be a problem.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has four players ruled out of the clash with United at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday afternoon; Gabriel Martinelli (knee), Pablo Mari Villar (ankle/foot), Rob Holding (thigh) and Calum Chambers (knee). David Luiz (thigh) is currently being assessed ahead of the match and there are suggestions that he could have a 25% chance of facing United. Arsenal could face some problems after playing on Thursday evening, three days before the clash with United – with the Red Devils playing on Wednesday and having an extra days rest. I am sure the Gunners will be doing all they can to get a good result at Old Trafford.

Predicted Starting XI: Marcus Rashford to continue his goalscoring form? Mason Greenwood to start up front with him? Midfield diamond with Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Fred and Bruno Fernandes? Axel Tuanzebe to start?

Solskjaer has tried many different tactics in recent matches, most of which have worked giving United the results they needed to turn the form of the club around following that defeat to Spurs. On Wednesday, the midfield diamond worked against Leipzig. That may or may not work against Arsenal, but could be changed at any period of the match. A 4-3-1-2 diamond could be good against the Gunners, especially at the time that United have an array of talent across the midfield with Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Fred, Scott McTominay and Donny van de Beek making a very strong set of players to call upon.

Match Prediction: United looking for 25th victory over Arsenal in the history of the Premier League? United have got to win their first league match at Old Trafford this season.

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.

Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal

Written by John Walker

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