Saturday 22nd November – 17:30 – Emirates Stadium
Arsenal play host to Manchester United tomorrow evening with both teams looking to kick-start their seasons in the stand-out fixture of the weekend. The North Londoners and the Red Devils enter this mouthwatering encounter languishing down in sixth and seventh respectively in the table after the opening 11 games of the campaign. With league leaders Chelsea having made an unbeaten start to the season, these two heavyweights know that nothing short of three points at the Emirates will do if they are to retain any hope of being crowned champions next May. The international break did result in both sides seeing some of their players injured, which you can read about in the ‘Team News’ section below. Arsenal also face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in a few days’ time, so will Arsene Wenger base his team with that key clash in mind?
The Key Battle: Alexis Sanchez vs Marouane Fellaini
Alexis Sanchez has been Arsenal’s best player by a country mile this season and is making a strong case already to be considered signing of the season or to be crowned Player of the Year.
The Chilean has scored 12 goals for Arsenal already since his £32 million move from Barcelona in the summer as well as scoring a few goals for his national team in the various international breaks.
Fellaini on the other hand hasn’t been nearly as successful since his move to Manchester United in the summer of 2013 but he is showing signs of improvement with performances in recent weeks being much better than they had been.
With Daley Blind injured and Sanchez playing in the number 10 role for the Gunners of late the two will find themselves in direct competition tomorrow.
The Belgian has the aerial advantage over Sanchez but should it come to a foot race or a matter of skill then there will be only one winner in this battle. Given the fact the Arsenal man likes to roam so much marking him should be a nightmare for Fellaini.
- Olivier Giroud has recovered from a broken leg a month ahead of schedule and is available to face The Red Devils.
- Mikel Arteta returns from a hamstring injury but Theo Walcott could miss out with a groin injury.
- Danny Welbeck is a doubt to face his former club after picking up a hamstring injury on England duty.
- Daley Blind has joined United’s lengthy injury list, while Radamel Falcao has suffered a further setback.
- Luke Shaw and Michael Carrick were injured on England duty but could still feature, but perhaps not from the start.
- Key players Angel di Maria and David De Gea are expected to be available despite suffering respective foot and finger injuries while on international duty.
Arsenal wins = 79/ Manchester United wins = 92 / Draws = 48
Last Meeting: Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United (12th February 2014)
Arsenal missed the chance to return to the top of the Premier League as they played out a grim goalless stalemate with Manchester United at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners were attempting to recover from the 5-1 mauling at Liverpool, while United were desperate to bounce back from the 2-2 draw at home to bottom club Fulham. And it showed in a game that was desperately disappointing in between a flurry of chances in the opening and closing minutes, ending in a result that did not serve the purposes of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger or United counterpart David Moyes, other than in avoiding defeat.
Stat of the Match
Arsenal have dropped a league-high nine points from winning positions this season, as many as they did in the whole of 2013-14.
Where can I watch it?
Sky Sports 1 are showing the game live, with their coverage beginning 4:45pm, and kick-off is at 5:30pm. If you can’t see the game then, as usual the highlights will be on Match of the Day that evening at 10:20pm on BBC One.
My Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United
Both sides have had similar seasons so far, so I can really only see one outcome for the clash at the Emirates. United do have some injury worries, but there’s still star names in their squad, which should earn them a point, but I do expect Arsenal to dominate. As for scorers, I think that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wayne Rooney will hit the back of the net.