Manchester City remain unbeaten at the top of the Premier League, but the chasing pack aren’t giving up yet. Saturday’s late kick-off is Arsenal vs Manchester United, 4th vs 2nd. With Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham also challenging for Top 4 spots, it’s a must-win match for both teams.
Arsenal have won 5 of their 6 Premier League matches since that surprise defeat to Watford. They’re scoring goals and, perhaps more importantly, they’re not conceding many. With key players back, The Gunners are finally finding their best form this season.
Manchester United are in a very similar position. José Mourinho’s team bounced back from the Huddersfield loss with 4 wins in 5. The Chelsea defeat, however, was a reminder that United are yet to convince in the big games. They don’t get much bigger than Arsenal vs Manchester United.
Arsène Wenger will be without striker Alexandre Lacazette but Olivier Giroud staked his starting claim with 2 goals against Huddersfield. Alexis Sánchez is a slight doubt but for the first time in a while, Arsenal have a fully fit defence.
Manchester United’s worries lie in central midfield. If Nemanja Matić, Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick are all missing, that only leaves Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba. Since his return, Pogba has played a lot of minutes. Can he keep that up?
With Shkodran Mustafi back in defence, Arsenal have kept 3 consecutive Premier League cleansheets. The German was the missing jigsaw piece between Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal. The only question mark is the protection in front. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey did well in their 2-on-2 encounters against Tottenham and Chelsea, but struggled against the 3-man midfields of Manchester City and Liverpool.
Arsenal vs Manchester United may well be a Back Three battle. Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young are ideal attacking wing-backs, with Victor Lindelöf and Marcos Rojo playing either side of Chris Smalling or Eric Bailly in defence. It’s a system that works well, unless United opt for a 3-man midfield instead.
Arsenal’s attack looks dangerous, even without Lacazette. The creative pairing of contract rebels Mesut Özil and Sánchez is one to watch and enjoy. If he starts up front, Giroud will have chances to score.
Manchester United’s attack has improved since Pogba’s return but, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of favour, they lack an Özil-type playmaker. Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard did well on the wings against Watford, but who starts up front? Romelu Lukaku looks very low on confidence. Could it be time for Zlatan?