Preview: Arsenal v Manchester United, who will win the battle of the reds?
Another Capital journey for Mourinho’s United
This Saturday sees José Mourinho make a second trip to the capital in a week to face old rival Arsene Wenger in the Arsenal v Manchester United Premier League tie.
Second placed United are currently eight points behind nemesis Manchester City. They must win to put pressure on the leaders, ahead of the eagerly anticipated Manchester Derby the following weekend.
Arsenal on the other hand will also be looking to lay down another season marker against a top six club. After impressively dispatching bitter rivals Tottenham a fortnight ago, they will be looking to claim another big six scalp at the Emirates this weekend.
The two clubs kicked off their Premier League campaigns very differently.
Manchester United started theirs impressively, sweeping aside West Ham and Swansea with successive 4-0 wins. Leicester and Everton followed. The run stunted only by a 2-2 draw with Stoke.
Pogba still injured
However, since the absence of talisman Paul Pogba with a hamstring injury from the Champions League tie with FC Basel, their season in parts has stagnated.
Defeat at newly promoted Huddersfield Town soon followed, to the delight of the home fans. A David and Goliath fairytale, with an unhappy ending for José Mourinho.
A rather lethargic pedestrian style of performance at Anfield followed. Critics claimed that Mourinho’s side had failed to take advantage of the breaks in the Liverpool defence. An opportunity lost.
Defeat at Chelsea was next, a bitter pill to swallow for ex-Chelsea boss Mourinho. The international break helped the side somewhat. They narrowly beat Tottenham to get three points the previous weekend. A win, but again a poor overall performance against a top six side.
Arsenal on the contrary, have experienced mixed fortunes to their campaign. Currently lying 12 points behind table toppers Manchester City. Losing to them at the Etihad emphatically early on did little to boost low morale. However, early progression in the Europa League has allowed Arsene Wenger to focus on the Premiership.
After beating North London rivals Tottenham, a more buoyant Arsenal travelled to Turf Moor to face Sean Dyche’s Burnley last weekend. They received the now typically Burnley organised defensive play. The mostly impenetrable wall held for more than ninety minutes, staving off any Arsenal attack.
To the anger and dismay of Sean Dyche, a needless injury time shove by James Tarkowski on Aaron Ramsey inside the area gifted the Gunners a penalty. Alexis Sanchez converted, to gain them three points. A stroke of luck for Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal v Manchester United recent form
Their last two meetings at the Emirates have seen Arsenal win both, 2-0 and 3-0 respectively.
United will be looking to continue their current good form. Frenchman Anthony Martial, with 5 goals to his name, is a constant menace on the right hand flank. Cuttting in at speed to find space and unlocking defences.
Despite 8 Premier League goals and 4 assists to his name so far, there’s beeen a recent drought for the new boy, Belgian Romelu Lukaku.
If not dropped by Mourinho for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it would present him with the perfect opportunity to silence his critics. The Belgian international has yet score against a top six side in the Premier League.
Young England striker Marcus Rashford is also a threat despite recent poorer form. On his day, the gifted youngster can swiftly find space to unlock defences. Hence his inclusion in the current England squad.
Despite unpredictability and average domestic start to the league, Arsenal have several threats of their own. Their new singing from Olimpique Lyonnais, Alexandre Lacazette, will be looking to put his name on the scoresheet.
Alexis Sanchez will also be looking to add to his tally. The famously troubled Chilean star appears happier on the pitch, and the media hype more around his displeasure has lsettled of late.
The current jostling amongst the chasing pack, will see both teams anxious for a win. With the feud between Wenger and Mourinho always ongoing, it will be likely be a battle both on and off the pitch.
Arsenal v Manchester United kicks off at 17.30 on Saturday 2nd December at the Emirates Stadium.