As Man United prepare to face Arsenal they will undoubtedly recall the first match between the two sides this season where the Red-Devils were leading until the very last minutes of the game before Olivier Giroud popped up to grab a last second equaliser to give the Londoners a most undeserved point.
United’s performance totally merited all three points on the day as they completely outplayed Arsene Wenger’s men with Juan Mata supplying the United goal but frustratingly for Jose Mourinho they had to settle for just the 1 point as has been the case too many times this season.
The draw did mean Jose remains unbeaten in his 14 league and cup matches against Arsene Wenger which is rather impressive to say the least. Jose of course famously called the Frenchman a “specialist in failiure” ahead of his then Chelsea side facing the Gunners back in the winter of 2014. You have to understand the context of the comment too to realise that Mou was responding to Wenger’s previous assertions that managers who play mind games engage in the tactic as they have a ‘fear’ of failure.
Clearly there is no love lost between the two managers. Indeed the teams famously clashed in a long stretch of genuine BATTLES back in the days when Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were captaining and playing central midfield for United and Arsenal respectively when the Premier League title always seemed to be on the line.
United have a very good recent record vs the Gunners as they have won 6, drawn 4 and lost just 1 match out of the last 11 Premier League games between the 2 clubs. The loss came at the Emirates last season as they went down to a 3-0 defeat when Louis van Gaal was the boss.
Fortunately United have not been defeated in consecutive away Premier League games vs Arsenal since way back in November of 2001.
In more most interesting stats favouring United and their boss: Jose Mourinho has faced Arsenal without losing more times in the Premier League than he has any other team. Jose’s career has seen him managing 12 games against the Gunners, pulling off a pretty impressive 5 wins, with 7 draws and of course zero defeats!
As we know Marcus Rashford has been playing out-of-his-skin lately and you would think the United boss would like to start his young stud against Arsenal’s sluggish back-line. If Rashford is not fit to start then Wayne Rooney could get the call as he has scored more Premier League goals against Arsenal than any other player in Premier League history – having banged in 11 goals.
It will be interesting to see if Jose opts to prepare as he did against Man City and impliment tight, tactically disciplined defensive tactics while hoping to hit Arsenal on the break or will he choose to try and play a more attacking game. As we know at this time of the season and with the stakes so high it will be a case of utilising whatever tactics will deliver a win or not end in defeat.
United are currently on a record setting run as they have set a club record for games without defeat within a single top-division season during the 25 game unbeaten streak they are on at the moment with 13 wins and 12 draws.
The Red-Devils have won on their last 2 visits to the UK capital and will be looking to make it 3 wins in a row in London which they last achieved back in November of 2014, when coincidentally the 3rd victory in that run came at none other than the Emirates.
You would expect to see that Marcus Rashford will (injury permitting) be asked to lead the line, while the return of Juan Mata has come at a great time to offer some additional creativity and composure to the team. You would imagine Henrikh Mkhitaryan will also get the call after another good display in the Europa League where he was unlucky not to register his 5th consecutive goal-scoring away game in Europe.
For Arsenal, their chief threat will be supplied by Alexis Sanchez who needs only 1 goal to achieve his best-ever return (has 19 at the moment) from a single campaign in Europe’s big five leagues. Sanchez also bagged 19 goals for Barcelona back in the 2013/14 season.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez has scored only 6 league goals at the Emirates despite playing on 16 occasions there this season.
Arsene Wenger has just a single previous win as Arsenal manager over Jose Mourinho and it came in the 2015 Community Shield. As we know Wenger is winless vs Mou in the Premier League. The French manager has faced United the most often of any team across all competitions (57 so far) but it is also the team he has the worst win rate against – a paltry 29% currently.
Arsenal have won 3 of their past 5 games with 2 losses. The first loss in these fixtures came away to Crystal Palace where they went down to a 3-0 defeat and their most recent game also was a loss when they were solidly beaten by their arch rivals – Tottenham Hotspur.
On the plus side for the Gunners, they did beat Man City 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final in extra-time for 1 of their 3 recent wins and they did show some resilience and character that day, two assets they have not shown much of lately.
Man United vs Arsenal is a mouth-watering match-up with such history plus so much is at stake in this edition – the winner will keep in touch with Man City and Liverpool for the remaining Champions League qualification places whereas a loss could well end the loser’s chances completely while a draw will not help either team very much.
With the incredibly unfortunate injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Anderlecht in the Europa League 2 weeks ago, Marcus Rashford was thrust into the main striking role for United and hence the spotlight. The youngster has responded big-time leading the line in most of the games plus scoring the winner for United vs Anderlecht in the Europa League after Ibrahimovic had to limp off. Rashford also grabbed the winner vs Celta Vigo in the Europa League semi-final on Thursday night with an awesome curling free-kick from distance.
Considering all the factors here, we feel that perhaps the most influential factor is Marcus Rashford. Therefore providing Marcus Rashford is fit we can predict a slim 2-1 United win, whereas if Rashford is not fit to play then we predict a 1-1 draw.
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