Manchester United vs Arsenal
Venue: Old Trafford
TV: BT Sport
Referee: Andre Marriner
A buoyant Arsenal will travel to Old Trafford on Wednesday evening looking to pile on the pressure for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United.
Unai Emery has breathed life into a squad that looked lethargic in their final seasons under Arsene Wenger and his side will be in high spirits after their impressive derby win over Spurs at the weekend. Arsenal currently sit 4th in the table with 30 points from their opening 14 games and are unbeaten in their last 19 matches across all competitions. A win against a beleaguered United would see them keep chase with Chelsea for 3rd position.
The clock is ticking on Mourinho’s Old Trafford career after some extremely poor results in recent weeks. Back-to-back draws against Crystal Palace and relegation contenders Southampton have been compounded by poor performances and rumours of unrest in the dressing room.
United currently sit 7th in the league and have conceded an astounding 23 goals. A win against Arsenal would see United move up to 6th while a loss against their old rivals could spell the end for Mourinho’s disastrous third season in charge.
Mourinho will have a tough time picking a starting eleven as his side are rocked by injuries and suspensions. Victor Lindelof and Alexis Sanchez are both sidelined with long-term injuries and will definitely miss out while there are doubts surrounding the fitness of Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling and Matteo Darmian. Ashley Young will also miss the fixture through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Southampton. Diogo Dalot could be in line for his first start of the season after a cameo appearance at the weekend.
United’s starting line-up against Southampton perplexed many and some questioned whether or not this was the work of a manager on his last legs. The continued absence of summer signing Fred and his Brazilian compatriot Andreas Pereira from the starting line-up is baffling given their technical abilities. Moreover, Mourinho’s penchant for physically imposing but technically limited players such as Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Marouane Fellaini is stifling the creative abilities of Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.
It remains to be seen if Mourinho will finally change his approach to the starting line-up this week or if he will bullishly continue down the path his has set so far.
Emery is also facing some notable absences going into this week’s fixture. Laurent Koscielny, Danny Welbeck, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Nacho Monreal are all set to miss out through injury while Granit Xhaka is suspended. Mesut Ozil should be in line to return after missing the London derby at the weekend.
Arsenal were particularly clinical in attack at the weekend so it is unlikely that Emery will tinker with things too much. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been unstoppable this season and is currently the league’s top scorer with ten goals while Alexandre Lacazette has been quietly plying his trade and currently has six goals and two assists.
In the middle of the park, Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Aaron Ramsey were a formidable force against Spurs. Despite missing some key players at the back, Arsenal’s attacking unit looks set to impress again on Wednesday evening.
Predicted Starting XIs
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Jones, Matic, Shaw; Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba; Lingard, Lukaku, Martial.
Arsenal (3-5-3): Leno; Sokratis, Holding, Mustafi; Bellerin, Torreira, Guendouzi, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Score Prediction: Manchester United 0 Arsenal 3
Arsenal have been in flying form recently and should cruise to victory over an extremely poor United side. Emery’s men were dominant and clinical against Spurs at the weekend and should carry that form into Wednesday night’s fixture. An embarrassing loss at home to an old rival could prove to be the end of Mourinho’s United career.