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Review & Ratings: Solskjaer's United were lacklustre, out of ideas, tactically poor and uninspiring in 2-0 defeat away to Arsenal

Manchester United fell to their first defeat of 2020 with Arsenal scoring twice at the Emirates on New Year’s Day. United seemed to lack everything a professional football club should have from the very first minute of the match. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to start inspiring this team to achieve as two wins after a defeat is not progress, it is two steps forward and on step back.

Arsenal started well in the match showing more desire to get an early goal. That came in the eighth minute through Nicolas Pepe after Sead Kolasinac, who was booked in the third minute, played the ball into Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, then playing in Alexandre Lacazette but the ball was deflected into Pepe who finished well beating David De Gea and putting his team 1-0 up. United needed to defend a lot better.

Arsenal doubled their lead in the 43rd minute of the match after Harry Maguire gave away a corner. Pepe took the corner aiming for Lacazette at the near post. De Gea could only parry the ball away from goal, then the loose ball bounced off a United defender where Sokratis Papastathopoulos was waiting, smashing the ball into the roof of the net. United looked dejected, out of ideas and looking to avoid a big defeat.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one conceded twice in the first half against Arsenal. Despite United's defence being reinforced in the summer, it is still leaking goals and Phil Jones has hardly played this season. When it doesn't work for United, they seem to give up.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

I don't think this was his worst game or his best. In the first half, United were predominately poor but some players tried to change that in the second half - Wan-Bissaka being one of them, getting forward at times and aiming to get United to create more in advanced positions. However, Arsenal were defending their 2-0 lead as it means three points for them with United slipping down the table again.

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2 Victor Lindelof

I worry about Lindelof. Last season, he played well but this season, he has seemingly only raised his game in the big games but failed to do so against Arsenal. It is good that Eric Bailly is back in training as options are needed. Both Bailly and Tuanzebe should get opportunities when both fit and ready to go.

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5 Harry Maguire

The £80 million summer signing looked average against Arsenal. He really needs to be offering the performances that are expected from him. He became better in the second half but United ere already out of the game.

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23 Luke Shaw

The left-back was outplayed in his position by Pepe against Arsenal. This is why Williams should have started. I have little faith in Shaw when he lacks the ability to raise his game when pressed.

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31 Nemanja Matic

The Serbian was very slow on the ball against Arsenal, which was something holding the rest of the team behind. If he wants to leave this month, let him go. He was replaced in the 81st minute by Mata, at 2-0 down this was United's saviour.

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17 Fred

Fred played well against Arsenal but you could see he was not comfortable with Matic, presumably because of his slowness in the centre of the midfield. Playing with McTominay, Fred has risen in stature but he cannot do everything by himself. United need depth in the midfield and need to buy this month to salvage something this season.

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21 Daniel James

The Welshman had a good chance on goal in the second half, seemingly seeing a space between the goalkeeper and the near post, seeing that effort mopped up by the Arsenal keeper. He may not have been the live wire in the team in this match as United did not seem up for the challenge of Arsenal. He was replaced by Greenwood in the 58th minute.

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14 Jesse Lingard

I would like to see this player succeed but he has been terrible of late. Granted his personal life has many problems at the minute but that does not mean he gets an easy ride in the team when playing this way. He was indecisive against Arsenal, which caused many problems on the attack with United lacking anything to pressure the Gunners in the first half. I can't think of much Lingard did in the second half to aid the team before he was replaced by Pereira in the 58th minute.

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10 Marcus Rashford

The top scorer for the club but could not do anything to get one over this Arsenal team at the Emirates. The players

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9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman did not do a lot against Arsenal. A true striker should be able to lead the line and cause some problems in the box for the opposition. Martial does not do that, or at least didn't against Arsenal. Granted, a lack of creativity is a major factor at the club - no excuses for Martial though.

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Substitutes

11 Mason Greenwood

Replaced James 58'. The 18-year-old has been getting involved in the game since he replaced James and got himself into the box unmarked at times but was not played the ball. There is nothing he can do about that other than to let his teammates know. Arsenal seem to have uncovered a massive weakness of United's - the ability to play as a team.

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Andreas Pereira

Replaced Lingard 58'. Had a chance on goal as soon as he got on the pitch, it did not result in a goal though. He's shown more than Lingard had in 58 minutes by that point.

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8 Juan Mata

Replaced Matic 81'. Came on late in the game. At 2-0 down I could not see what he could bring. To be fair though, in added time be played a blinding ball into the box for Rashford but got nothing from it.

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Goals: Nicolas Pepe 8′, Sokratis Papastathopoulos 43′

Assists:

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Matic (Mata 81′), Fred; James (Greenwood 58′), Lingard (Pereira 58′), Rashford; Martial

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Jones, Young, Williams

Bookings: Sead Kolasinac 3′, Bukayo Saka 82′

Confirmed Starting XI: Martial, James, Lingard and Rashford start against Arsenal – no Pogba again!

Manchester United have travelled to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in the Premier League this evening. It is the first match of 2020 and a big one at that. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has led his team into two victories over the Festive period beating Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford and Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor, which came after their 2-0 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road before Christmas.

Arsenal have continued to be Arsenal despite Mikel Arteta becoming the new manager of the club, replacing Freddie Ljungberg as the interim manager following the sacking of Unai Emery back in November. United have risen back up to fifth in the Premier League table following their victories over Newcastle and Burnley and with Chelsea beating Arsenal on Sunday, just four points separate the two teams.

Arsenal have fallen into twelfth position, seven points adrift of United which could turn into ten points with another victory for United at the Emirates. Jesse Lingard doing the moonwalk again would be so fitting and it would frustrate the Arsenal faithful to no end. I am looking forward to this match, it is going to be a good game and one that should keep United on track to finishing inside the top four this season.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw;

Matic, Fred;

James, Lingard, Rashford;

Martial

Substitutes:

Romero; Jones, Young, Williams; Mata, Pereira; Greenwood

Arsenal:

Leno;

Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac;

Xhaka, Torriera;

Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang;

Lacazette

Substitutes:

Martinez, Holding, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Willock, Nelson, Saka

United and Arsenal have played a total of 231 matches in this history of both clubs with the first match being played in 1894. United have won 99 times, drawn 49 times and lost 83 times. The last defeat to Arsenal came in the Premier League back in March 2019, a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates with Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the goals to win the match. It was also the start of a poor run for United last season.

At Old Trafford earlier this season it was a 1-1 draw with Scott McTominay scoring the first goal of the game and Aubameyang finding the equaliser to level the game and share the points. Prior to the last defeat in March 2019, United had been on a four match unbeaten run against Arsenal, winning three times and drawing once. Solskjaer will be seeking to keep United winning starting the new year and decade in style.

How Manchester United could look against Arsenal; 4-2-3-1 with Martial leading the line with Rashford and James supporting, Pogba in midfield and Williams keeping his place

Manchester United will face Arsenal in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on New Year’s Day. In the evening kick off, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be tasked to better the 1-1 draw between the two sides at Old Trafford in September. New Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is seeking his first victory for the club after seeing a 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 defeat late in the game against Chelsea at the weekend.

This confirms that Arsenal are still Arsenal and for that reason, United should be able to get the result that they desire. Keeping their heads will be key in the game, as will be taking the game to Arsenal and nullifying them on the attack to hit them where it hurts. The Emirates has been a happy hunting ground for United of late despite losing this fixture last season, they won there in the FA Cup by the same scoreline as the 3-1 victory there in the league last season.

Hopefully, the likes of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard will return to the starting XI for this game – Lingard loves it at the Emirates and if he can get himself into similar form as previous visits, it could be a good game for United. Brandon Williams needs to keep his place in the team as his rise in the left-back position, for me, sees him ahead of Luke Shaw. Here is my predicted starting XI and why I have selected each player.

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish goalkeeper kept his first clean sheet in the Premier League in 15 matches against Burnley. This will lift his confidence. He has performed some good saves against Newcastle and Burnley, even against Watford, although that was a defeat. He’s the best goalkeeper at the club and deserves to be stuck by because of the fact he’s stuck y the club, especially over the past six seasons with United a shade of the club that they used to be. De Gea in form is an outstanding player and confidence and good performances for the club will help him get back to where he was not all that long ago.

Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams

United have many options in defence. Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will keep their places in the centre of defence against Arsenal. The pair play well against the bigger clubs who will throw a challenge at United. Maguire has improved over the last few matches and has been seeking his first goal for the club, which has so far ben elusive. Aaron Wan-Bissaka will return to the starting XI after sitting out the trip to Burnley as an unused substitute. Many would think Luke Shaw would be back in the team for this match but for the way Brandon Williams played against Burnley, I would pick him ahead of Shaw based on what he offers to the team – he’s going to be a talent in the years to come and could well have the left-back position as his own before the end of the season.

Midfield: Fred, Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba needs to be fit to face Arsenal. He has played against Watford and Newcastle United during the Festive period and sat the trip to Burnley out as it could have been too much for him – they tackle hard and that could have sent him back to the treatment table once again. The Frenchman will want to be fit to face Arsenal. Fred could be picked to partner Pogba in the centre of midfield. The Brazilian has played well this season and over the past few months, you can see the improvement in his game. This is a good thing as he heads into the second half of the season, with plenty for United still to achieve.

Attacking Midfielders: Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford

The attacking trio behind the striker need to have ability on and off the ball, pace and the hunger to score and create goals. Daniel James has been a class act this season, scoring three goals and assisting six more. One more goal or assist will put his contribution to ten goals this season, after a rise from the Championship, this is a good start for him. Jesse Lingard seems to play well against Arsenal at the Emirates and his dancing will burst some blood vessels if he finds a goal and a good start to 2020. He has been lacklustre in 2019, it could be the start of a good year for him. Marcus Rashford is the clubs top scorer this season, having 16 goals so far. He will be seeking to add to his tally against Arsenal, the club he scored his first Premier League goals against.

Striker: Anthony Martial

The Frenchman scored three goals in the past week as United beat Newcastle United and Burnley making it ten goals for him so far this season. Granted, he needs to offer more goals to be a good striker worthy of a place in the team but against Burnley, he seemed to be more available in the box. With the likes of Pogba in the team, which could bring more creativity, Martial could have more chances to turn into goals. Scoring against Arsenal will be something he will want to do and something Arsenal will be tying to avert.

Substitutes: Sergio Romero; Luke Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe; Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic; Mason Greenwood

United may need to keep something in reserve on the bench in order to throw everything that they have against Arsenal. Sergio Romero will keep his place on the bench but could be recalled at the weekend to face Wolves. Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe, if fit, could occupy places on the bench to cover the fullback and central defensive roles. In midfield, the experience of Juan Mata, the rise in form of Andreas Pereira and the defensive abilities of Nemanja Matic could be called upon. Mason Greenwood will be the only attacking player on the bench and he is hungry for a goal or two of late.

Preview: Beating Arsenal is not just necessary, it needs to happen to keep United on the right road and Arsenal further on the decline

Arsenal -v- Manchester United

Premier League

Emirates Stadium, London

Wednesday 1 January 2020, KO 20:00 GMT

Referee: Chris Kavanagh Assistants: Sian Massey-Ellis; Constantine Hatzidakis Fourth official: Craig Pawson

VAR: Paul Tierney Assistant VAR: Stephen Child

Manchester United will travel to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal in the Premier League on New Year’s Day. It is the first match of 2020 and a big one at that. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has led his team into two victories over the Festive period beating Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford and Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor, which came after their 2-0 defeat to Watford at Vicarage Road before Christmas.

Arsenal have continued to be Arsenal despite Mikel Arteta becoming the new manager of the club, replacing Freddie Ljungberg as the interim manager following the sacking of Uni Emery back in November. United have risen back up to fifth in the Premier League table following their victories over Newcastle and Burnley and with Chelsea beating Arsenal on Sunday, just four points separate the two teams.

Arsenal have fallen into twelfth position, seven points adrift of United which could turn into ten points with another victory for United at the Emirates. Jesse Lingard doing the moonwalk again would be so fitting and it would frustrate the Arsenal faithful to no end. I am looking forward to this match, it is going to be a good game and one that should keep United on track to finishing inside the top four this season.

Form: One win in the last six matches for Arsenal, drawing three and losing twice; United have one defeat in their last six, winning four and drawing once.

Manchester United: WWLWDW

Burnley 2-0 W, Newcastle United 4-1 W, Watford 2-0 L, Colchester United 3-0 W, Everton 1-1 D, AZ Alkmaar 4-0 W

Arsenal: LDDLDW

Chelsea 2-1 L, Bournemouth 1-1 D, Everton 0-0 D, Manchester City 3-0 L, Standard Liege 2-2 D, West Ham United 3-1 W

Top Scorers: Marcus Rashford has 16 goals in all competitions this season with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang scoring 15 goals this season.

Manchester United Goals: 16 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Anthony Martial, 8 – Mason Greenwood, 3 – Daniel James, Scott McTominay, 2 – Own Goal, 1 – Victor Lindelof, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Brandon Williams, Ashley Young

United have seemingly turned another corner this season after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Watford before Christmas. Their 4-1 victory over Newcastle United followed by a 2-0 victory over Burnley has propelled the team into fifth place in the Premier League this season. Chelsea’s victory over Arsenal on Sunday leaves a four point gap between United and Chelsea – a challenge for United to break into the top four.

Arsenal Goals: 15 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 8 – Gabriel Martinelli, 6 – Alexandre Lacazette, 4 – Nicolas Pépé, Joseph Willock, 2 – David Luiz, Bukayo Saka, Lucas Torreira, 1 – Dani Ceballos, Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Shkodran Mustafi, Reiss Nelson, Sokratis

Arsenal have been Arsenal this season. The 1-1 draw between United and Arsenal earlier in the season will make the side look good heading into the first big match of 2020 for the pair. United are clearly the team in much better form and they do raise their game against bigger teams, of which Arsenal is still one despite their fall into 12th in the league this season. This will not be an easy match for either team.

Team News: Eric Bailly back in training, perhaps too soon to face Arsenal. Scott McTominay likely to be out of action for a month. Paul Pogba could return in first big match of 2020.

Solskjaer will have been boosted with the return of Eric Bailly to training on Monday morning, however, he is not likely to be fit to face Arsenal although he could be included on the bench, if need be. I reckon he could be included in the FA Cup clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe, Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba were all absent from training, although that doesn’t mean all are out.

McTominay is likely to be out until the end of January with a knee injury and it was expected that he would have a scan at the weekend, although nothing has yet been confirmed. Tuanzebe had a thigh injury and has been absent for the last few matches. Marcos Rojo is out of action and could return as early as the weekend. Tim Fosu-Mensah-Mensah is still recovering from his knee injury although has been training.

Arsenal look set to be without Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Kieran Tierney for the visit of United but have other players who are considered doubts for the match, such as; Hector Bellerin, Gabriel Martinelli, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka, and Rob Holding. If Arsenal have nine players out of action for the match it could be problematic for them, but it is Arsenal at the end of the day.

Predicted Starting XI: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Daniel James to lead the attack against Arsenal? Paul Pogba to return to midfield alongside Fred?

I do not envisage many changes for this match. I believe Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Daniel James, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams and David De Gea should all keep their places in the team. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard should all be recalled into the starting XI. I would like to see Mason Greenwood given a chance but he could come off the bench later on during the game.

Match Prediction: 99 wins against Arsenal for United – can Solskjaer make it 100 in their second meeting this season?

United and Arsenal have played a total of 231 matches in this history of both clubs with the first match being played in 1894. United have won 99 times, drawn 49 times and lost 83 times. The last defeat to Arsenal came in the Premier League back in March 2019, a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates with Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the goals to win the match. It was also the start of a poor run for United last season.

At Old Trafford earlier this season it was a 1-1 draw with Scott McTominay scoring the first goal of the game and Aubameyang finding the equaliser to level the game and share the points. Prior to the last defeat in March 2019, United had been on a four match unbeaten run against Arsenal, winning three times and drawing once. Solskjaer will be seeking to keep United winning starting the new year and decade in style.

Arsenal 0-2 Manchester United

Team News: McTominay captains United as the U23’s face Arsenal

Manchester United U23’s face Arsenal in their penultimate Premier League 2 fixture at the Emirates this evening. Just over 24 hours since the first team played at the same stadium, losing 2-0, Nicky Butt’s U23 will be pitted against the North Londoners aiming to ensure they are not relegated from division one in the league ahead of next season. United have two games in hand over Southampton, who have been relegated into division two, but the bottom placed team, Reading, could probably stay up with a win in their last match, providing United lose both matches (Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur) conceding goals aplenty. United will need a win or a draw to remain in the top flight of the Premier League 2 next season.

Manchester United:

O’Hara;

Olosunde, Warren, Borthwick-Jackson, Mitchell;

Scott, Willock;

Harrop, McTominay, Gribbin;

Bohui

Substitutes:

Kehinde, Richardson, Hamilton, Dearnley, Whelan

Arsenal:

Macey;

Jenkinson, Johnson, Sheaf, Bramall;

Maitland-Wilkes, Kamara;

Mourgos, Nelson, C. Willock;

Nketiah

Substitutes:

Malen, Keto, J. Willock, Dragomir, Olowu

This season, United’s U23 have been minus a few players to make them a full team. Playing without a recognised striker, utilising the more talented players in that role, Nicky Butt has a lot to do in the summer to steer this U23 side back to the glory that have become accustomed to, winning the title in this age group for the last two seasons. Everton have been crowned the champions this season, pipping Manchester City to the title. United could finish in the top six with two victories (tonight and in a week’s time), which may not be the season this side will have wanted, but it will be a starting point for next season.

Ratings: Tuanzebe one of the brightest from the defeat; Rooney the worst!

Manchester United saw their 25-match unbeaten run in the Premier League after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates. United played well in the first half, but Wayne Rooney, who had ore than a few shots on goal today, was poor. In fact, he was poorer than poor. His sight for a shot is just not there and his ability to score from the range he should be scoring from. His Manchester United career is quickly evading him. Axel Tuanzebe was a bright starter in the game, showing his skills and class against the likes of Alexis Sanchez, whom he got the better of on a few occasions. This match was not a masterclass from either side, Arsenal just finding a chance, twice, in the space of a few minutes, them seemingly going back to business, as usual, making it look like they took advantage of United at a moment they knew they could capitalise.

The first goal came from a deflection from Ander Herrera as Granit Xhaka took a shot from long-range. The second, around a minute or so later, saw Chris Smalling not notice the offside Danny Welbeck, which was returning to an onside position before the ball was struck, with him beating the United defender to the ball, heading past David De Gea, who conceded his second and final goal of the day. United just could not come back from that. Scott McTominay made his debut in the last six minutes of the match, seemingly looking more capable than the likes of Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, which must tell us all something. United have a chance of UEFA Champions League football – winning the Europa League, which will be a task of its own if a United team like this turn-up. Jose Mourinho said the performance was good, it was, but only for a few player’s gracing the pitch, not all.

Manchester United: De Gea; Tuanzebe, Jones, Smalling, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera (Rashford 63′); Mata (McTominay 84′), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 61′), Martial; Rooney

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Bailly, Blind; Pogba

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spaniard had to make a save from Aaron Ramsey in the early stages of the match. De Gea made another great save in the first half, keeping United in the game. De Gea was beaten twice; a long-range deflected goal from Xhaka and a close-range header from Welbeck. He had little to do after the goals.

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38 Axel Tuanzebe

The full debutant had a god opening 45 minutes, making two interceptions and two clearances, using his ability and pace to help his team. To me, Tuanzebe looked good being that it was his debut and it will help grow his confidence for the future.

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4 Phil Jones

Played his first match for seven weeks, passing was impeccable. Won 67% of his tackles, made one interception and six clearances and two blocks. His confidence was not there and at times he was found out. Seemed to always want to pass backwards, not forwards.

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Chris Smalling

Helped Tuanzebe at various points of the game, showing his professionalism by helping to protect the 19-year-old. However, when Welbeck was in an offside position, tracking back, Smalling did not notice him and looked the debutant as Arsenal went 2-0 up.

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Matteo Darmian

The Italian was not at his best today. His passing was good, but everything else was poor. Playing with the freedom to attack, he got forward a lot, but failed to cause any problems, or create anything for his teammates.

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16 Michael Carrick

It was one of those matches for Michael Carrick. Hardly made his presence known in the first half, which was poor from both teams. In the second, he only really started to show his impact after United conceded, twice. By that time, it was too late. Shame to see this in what could be his final run of matches at the club.

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21 Ander Herrera

The Spanish midfielder saved Phil Jones from a defensive nightmare recovering the ball in the box before a shot was made. Herrera played a part in the opening Arsenal goal with Xhaka trying from long-range, it deflecting off him and beating De Gea. His time came to an end in the 63rd minute with Marcus Rashford replacing him.

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8 Juan Mata

The Spanish midfielder, making his first appearance from injury, despite gracing the bench against Swansea and Celta Vigo, could not offer enough protection for Tuanzebe on the right. His attacking play was good, though. In the second half, his impact started to fade, being replaced by McTominay in the final six minutes.

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22 Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The positioning of Matteo Darmian, it being poor, meant Mkhitaryan had to play further back to protect his teammate. Was beaten by Oxlade-Chamberlain at times, not being able to keep up with his pace. Needed to have a more attacking presence for United to prevail.

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9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman seemed to be up for this match. His creativity was being let down by the poor passing of his attacking teammates, let alone poor finishing from some (Rooney). Gave the ball away for the second goal, but his teammates could have done a bit more to stop Arsenal from scoring that second goal (Smalling).

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Ratings: Tuanzebe one of the brightest from the defeat; Rooney the worst!

The captain had a free kick in the opening few minutes of the match, it going straight to Petr Cech. Three shots in the first half,; two off target, one being saved. The captain has played well against this Arsenal side. Had six shots on goal throughout the match, two were saved, the rest being off target. Should have done so much better. Off to pastures new for the 'captain'.

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Substitutes

14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Mkhitaryan. Played well, despite being somewhat ineffective from his introduction. Has the pace and ability to succeed, just did not have it today.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Herrera. Seemed fired up to get something from the game, but had no end product with United chasing the game from his introduction. United need to play better on Thursday. Much better.

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39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Mata. Made his debut six minutes from time 2-0 down away from home.

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Report: United slip up against Arsenal; Tuanzebe and McTominay get their chances to shine

Manchester United saw their 25 match unbeaten run in the Premier League end with their last defeat being at Stamford Bridge at the hands of Chelsea, losing again at the hands of Arsenal at the Emirates, both matches in London. United just did not have what was needed to win, which is a warning sign for United, who seem to be banking on winning the Europa League to earn a Champions League place next season. The full debut of Axel Tuanzebe went well, as did the debut of Scott McTominay, both bright and raring to go when given their chance.

Jose Mourinho made eight changes the most notable of all being Axel Tuanzebe who makes his full debut playing in the right-back role. David De Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Michael Carrick, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney also return to the starting lineup against Arsenal. The home side started the game on the attack with United regaining possession, getting on the advance themselves. Henrikh Mkhitaryan won a free-kick for United after a challenge from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Rooney taking the set-piece with it going straight to Petr Cech. United had another chance minutes later with Anthony Martial not getting his shot on target. Perhaps the free-kick should have been a bit more threatening from United.

Arsenal broke forward in the ninth minute with Aaron Ramsey getting into the box, receiving the ball and shooting with David De Gea denying the Welshman from close-range, giving a corner to the home side, which came to nothing. United were playing with Arsenal, playing pass after pass with the North Londoners seemingly containing United. An offside call  gave Arsenal a free-kick, again which did not cause any threat to United but Arsenal were in charge of the ball again, this time playing with United with their short passes, aiming to break through into United’s area to try and get something early on from the game. It was end-to-end football in the first 17 minutes or so of the match, some chances for both teams, nothing breaking the deadlock.

United had a good spell on the ball, winning a free-kick, taken by Juan Mata, then winning a corner from that, trying to get something from the game in order to break the deadlock. Mkhitaryan and Martial, despite trying to make the space and create a shot, were not able to get the job done during this attack. United still calm and composed, started the attack again from their own half after an Arsenal clearance. Axel Tuanzebe was doing well in the right-back position, clearing crosses and generally getting forward, using his pace as an advantage at times. United has another set-piece, which came to nothing with a Rooney header, which was off target. Arsenal were back in possession of the ball and looking to get into United’s area and make a break.

Arsenal won a corner on the attack, taken by Oxlade-Chamberlain, reaching his man in the box, the number of players there crowding out anything from happening with the ball being cleared for another corner. Mesut Ozil took the corner, Martial cleared it out of the area into the middle third of the pitch. Arsenal had a great chance to open the scoring, breaking through into the box and having space and time to make a shot, it being thwarted and another corner awarded to Arsenal. From the corner, more threatening from the home side but United managed to clear the ball. Another chance moments later, resulting in a shot with De Gea making a save to keep his side in the game. United could have opened the scoring after a poor back pass to Cech with Rooney looking to capitalise – missing.

United won the corner with Cech getting a touch to Rooney’s shot, giving United the chance to lump some pressure on the home side, which they were on the receiving end of in the few minutes before Rooney’s chance. Towards the end of the first half, the tempo of the match was slowed, but Arsenal were still the team looking to capitalise, just not getting through with a good enough chance, despite United seemingly being pressured. Tuanzebe has done well in the first half of the match, getting involved at times and using his ability to help his team. Arsenal ended the half on the attack, with United regaining possession and making the clearance. It was a positive half of football, especially when you consider the changes made by Mourinho.

The second half started much like the first half ended, neither team taking real control of the match, despite chances coming. Tuanzebe got the better of Alexis Sanchez on an Arsenal attack, winning the ball and seeing the Chilean slip whilst being dispossessed. Arsenal had the ball for much of the opening few minutes, with United doing what they needed to do in order to remain in the game. Arsenal took the lead in the 54th minute of the match through some good fortune with Granit Xhaka putting a long-range shot goalwards, it taking a deflection off Ander Herrera, beating David De Gea. United’s long unbeaten run is under threat by a team like Arsenal, who will celebrate their chance to jump to fifth place if they win today and again against Southampton in the week.

Arsenal doubled their lead a few minutes later with Danny Welbeck scoring against his former club. United just don’t seem to want anything today, even though the chance to break into the top four was opened even wider by Liverpool failing to beat the team they rely on their transfer business to come from each summer. Mourinho made a chanhe on the 61st minute of the matc with Jesse Lingard replacing Mkhitaryan. Marcus Rashford was readying himself on the sidelines also. Rashford replaced Herrera with United reverting to a 4-4-2 formation, still being overrun by this Arsenal side, who seem to be rampant with a chance of fighting their way to fifth later in the week. Can’t blame them for challenging for that fourth-placed trophy.

This United side have turned into a joke, especially at the back. Axel Tuanzebe has shown more ability in defence than the three full internationals he has been playing with. At 19 and lacking experience in the first team, that has got to make Jones, Smalling and Darmian think about how the future could turn out for them. United got forwardin the 74th minute with some good interplay between Martial and Lingard, the latter setting Rooney up for a shot, which was off target. United just did not have what they needed to beat Arsenal today, contrary to what the fans wanted to see, Thursday’s match will be the important one. Scott McTominay was readying himself on the sidelines for his debut with Mourinho looking to rest Eric Bailly, Daley Blind and Paul Pogba for the visit of Celta Vigo.

McTominay replaced Juan Mata in the 84th minute of the match, making his debut 2-0 down away from home. United just did not have enough to deal with conceding twice in a few minutes, failing to get a goal and take something from the game. One thing is though, the future looks good for United. You will get the fans that moan at every defeat, want to sack the manager without looking at the positives. The positives here are that Wayne Rooney is out of his depth, not able to be that guy that carves a victory from a defeat, seemingly suggesting his career at United is starting to reach its final stretch. Axel Tuanzebe and Scott McTominay making teir full debut and debut respectively, starting their careers at the club. Whilst no points were in the back today, there is certainly something to think about.

Manchester United: De Gea; Tuanzebe, Jones, Smalling, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera (Rashford 63′); Mata (McTominay 84′), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 61′), Martial; Rooney

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Bailly, Blind; Pogba

Team News: Tuanzebe starts; Rooney leads the line…

Manchester United will go head to head with Arsenal in the Premier League at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon. It will be the 225th meeting between the two sides in their 123-year history. United start the match in fifth place, four points adrift of Manchester City in fourth, but with Liverpool currently drawing with Southampton and United in effect having two games in hand over them (including the one against Arsenal), United could be back in with a chance of earning a top-four place in the Premier League this season. United have had a long season, this being their 59th match, still with at least four matches to play, a fifth if United earn a UEFA Europa League final place in Sweden. Jose Mourinho has included some talented youth players in his squad for this match, with the team news confirmed below;

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Tuanzebe, Jones, Smalling, Darmian;

Carrick, Herrera;

Mata, Mkhitaryan, Martial;

Rooney

Substitutes:

Romero; Bailly, Blind; Pogba, Lingard, McTominay; Rashford

Arsenal:

Cech;

Holding, Koscielny, Monreal;

Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Xhaka, Gibbs;

Ozil, Welbeck, Alexis

Substitutes:

Ospina, Gabriel, Giroud, Walcott, Iwobi, Bellerin, Coquelin

United and Arsenal have met 224 times before today with United winning 96 times, drawing 47 and losing 81 times. United need to keep the gap between them and Arsenal with only five points between the two sides at this stage of the season with Arsenal having a game in hand over United, played again Southampton during the week. A defeat today for United and another win for Arsenal in the week could see United pushed back into sixth place in the league, the position they spent more than 100 days in earlier this season. Come on UNITED!

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.

Preview: Manchester United out for revenge against Arsenal in must-win match!

Arsenal -v- Manchester United 

Emirates, London

Premier League 2016/17

Sunday 7th May 2017; KO 16:00 BST

Live on Sky Sports 1HD

Manchester United travel to the Emirates on Sunday afternoon to take on Arsenal in the Premier League. United are fresh from their 1-0 semi-final first leg UEFA Europa League victory over Celta Vigo, putting them 90 minutes, or 120 minutes and/or penalties from the UEFA Europa League final, which would be a first achievement for the club who have won every major honour other than this one. Arsenal have been having a break since last weekend, being that they are not in any European competition, and could be faced with that situation next season also. Back in November, United are Arsenal drew 1-1 at Old Trafford; Juan Mata opened the scoring in the 68th minute, with Olivier Giroud equalising in the final minute of the match. At this stage of the season, with United five points better off than the North London, United will need a victory from the Emirates in order to retain their slight chance of earning a top four place before the end of the season. United’s UEFA Champions League chances remain by winning the Europa League, but getting inside the top four may take some pressure of Jose Mourinho’s side, should they make it to Sweden at the end of the month.

United’s UEFA Champions League chances remain by winning the Europa League, but getting inside the top four may take some pressure of Jose Mourinho’s side, should they make it to Sweden at the end of the month. Of course, there are no guarantees that United will win the trophy, no guarantees they will get to the final either unless they pull out all of the stops at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. The race for the top four will heat up this weekend with Manchester City and Liverpool looking to keep United under pressure, kicking off in the final match on Sunday afternoon. Chelsea will go head to head with Middlesbrough on Monday evening, which does not cause any problems for United at this stage of the season. Mourinho will rotate his side, keeping the Europa League as his main priority, but doing enough in the league to win the matches they need to win, carrying them closer to the main objective of the season – UEFA Champions League football and another trophy, which is what all teams will want.

Rival supporters will mock United for their position, but since last season, there has been an improvement, which cannot be said for Arsenal, who are on the decline and need attention immediately. Beating United may placate the Arsenal fans this weekend, but nothing can placate them permanently. Many will opt to sack Arsene Wenger, but that will only be the start of the problems, as United supporters will know after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, which was announced nearly four years ago – 8th May 2013. Arsenal fans may want to be careful what they wish for. Still, this weekend’s match should see a United side baying for blood, wanting to exact revenge on the side who scored that last-minute goal back in November, aiming to take all three points from the Emirates in a match which if United set up like they did against Chelsea a few weeks ago, could be enough for the North Londoners to give up and get ready for another season of decline. Arsenal are five points behind United, a defeat at the Emirates followed by a victory for Arsenal against Southampton (their game in hand) next week could see United in sixth again!

Match Officials: Andre Marriner to take charge of Arsenal versus United for the second time this season

Andre Marriner will officiate the match at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon. It will be his 26th match in the Premier League this season, where he has shown 92 yellow cards, one second yellow and one red card this season. This will also be Marriner’s fifth game involving United, having officiated over two previous league matches; the 3-1 victory over Bournemouth and the 1-1 draw with Arsenal earlier in the season. He also took charge of the 4-0 FA Cup victory over Reading and the EFL Cup final victory over Southampton. During these matches, Marriner has booked seven United players; Ander Herrera (twice), Mateo Darmian, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Jesse Lingard. The assistant referees will be Simon Beck and Scott Ledger, with the fourth official being Craig Pawson.

Form: 25 matches unbeaten in the league and the team with the fewest defeats in the league, but still fifth!

Manchester United: This season has been a tough one for United. 14 draws in the Premier League, ten of those at Old Trafford is not United returning to their best. However, it is an improvement overall as United are playing some better football, although there are some creases to iron out, especially scoring goals, of which a handful were missed against Celta Vigo on Thursday evening. United face the remainder of the season without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, their top scorer and match winner this season, which will be a blow, especially against Arsenal. Jose Mourinho will have to rotate his team with an eye on the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg against Celta at Old Trafford on Thursday but should have enough freshness in his side to challenge the Gunners.

Arsenal: This season has been a wake-up call for Arsenal, who have been on the decline all season. Positioned above United for the majority of the season saw their fans mock United, but ever since United took over them in the league, they have been pretty quiet. Knocked out of the Champions League at the round of 16 stage again, with a chance of not qualifying for the elite European tournament next season, which will be the first time in this modern football era. The Arsenal fans have been calling for Wenger to be sacked, when they lose, being silent when they don’t, which is as fickle as those fans are. A victory over United this weekend and another over Southampton during the week would see United put back down to sixth. United need to win in London.

Who are the top scorers at both Manchester United and Arsenal this season?

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 12 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Anthony Martial, 7 – Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney, 5 – Jesse Lingard, 3 – Marouane Fellaini, 2 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, 1 – Daley Blind, Own Goal, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia

Arsenal: 24 – Alexis Sánchez, 19 – Theo Walcott, 13 – Olivier Giroud, 11 – Mesut Özil, 7 – Lucas Pérez, 6 – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 4 – Alex Iwobi, 3 – Danny Welbeck, Granit Xhaka, 2 – Santiago Cazorla, Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi, Aaron Ramsey, Calum Chambers, Nacho Monreal

Team News: Injuries strike but United in a better position defensively to face the Gunners

Manchester United will be without Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo against Arsenal on Sunday and will be sweating on the fitness of Marcus Rashford who limped out of the 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo on Thursday evening. United were boosted ahead of the trip to Spain as Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling returned to training, Bailly starting and Smalling making a cameo appearance at the end of the match after Young suffered his injury. Marouane Fellaini will sit through his second match of a three-match suspension, which should see him available against against Southampton the week after next, in the league at least. He will be available again on Thursday in the Europa League. Mourinho suggested that Rashford’s withdrawal was precautionary, meaning he should be fit but will undergo a late fitness test on Saturday, presumably before the team leaves Manchester for London. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be without Santi Cazorla, Lucas Pérez and Granit Xhaka with the French manager sweating on the fitness of Shkodran Mustafi.

Previous Meetings:

Manchester United and Arsenal have a long history stretching back some 224 matches with the first being played on the 13th October 1894. United have won the most matches with 96 victories, drawing 47 and losing 81. United will be looking to get closer to three figures with a victory over the Gunners. United have a reached a nine-match unbeaten streak against Arsenal twice (19th October 1991 to 22nd March 1995 and 20th November 1954 to 11th October 1958). There are also two seven-match unbeaten streaks in favour of United in the history of both clubs meeting; one started with that 8-2 victory on the 28th August 2011, ending on the 22nd November 2014. United have a five-match winning run over Arsenal from the 6th September 1983, ending on the 24th August 1985. United are unbeaten in their last two matches against Arsenal, both played at Old Trafford; a 3-2 victory and a 1-0 draw. However, their last trip to the Emirates ended in a 3-0 defeat on the 4th October 2015, the first match between the two sides last season. Jose Mourinho has a good record against Arsenal, he will want to retain that and also remain unbeaten against his former cross-city rivals whilst the manager of United.

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Arsenal?

Predicted Score:

Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United

copyright: JW