All eyes will be on the theatre of dreams today when Manchester United takes on Arsenal. It’s never a dull occasion when these two clubs involved. The two heavyweights of English football will battle it out at Old Trafford. Although, both teams are aiming for different goals, Gunners for their bid to win their first EPL title in over ten years while the red devils push for their quest in finishing in the top four. It’s a must-win game for both teams.
The last time Arsenal came out with all three points at Old Trafford was in 2006-2007 season with Adebayor getting the winner. Since then, Manchester United has enjoyed six wins out of eight at home against the Gunners in the league. Arsenal couldn’t even beat them in the league when David Moyes was in charge; when Man United was struggling and performing below par. There has been a psychological factor when playing against the red devils. But, the 3-0 thumping in the reverse fixture at the Emirates this season and the victory over them in the FA Cup last season has given some hope for Arsenal fans.
Gunners come into this game with a 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in the UCL at the Emirates. It could prove to be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal as now they would focus solely on the league. Arsenal can close the gap to two points if they win today. They face an injury struck Man United side and had an excellent opportunity of beating them. Anthony Martial is doubt with a hamstring pull while Rooney, Schweinsteiger, Jones, Shaw, Young and Januzaj are all out with injuries. Moreover, its Manchester United’s third game in seven days and playing in the Europa League two days ago, result in the players fatigued. Will they have the legs to match the pace of Arsenal? Welbeck must lead the line, and Arsenal must take their chances in front of goal if they want to beat United.
Manchester United was superb in their 5-1 thrashing of FC Midtjylland with Memphis running the show, showing why United signed him in the summer. This performance will boost his confidence and will be at it again to prove his critics wrong. It’s the best time for Man united to turn their season around. LVG should go all guns blazing as they have nothing to lose in the EPL and need a win if they want to catch their arch rivals Man City for the last UCL spot. There is good news for the red devils as David De Gea is most likely to be back between the sticks.
The match will be won and lost in the midfield. Schneiderlin needs to stop Ozil from dictating play. Depay against Bellerin will be an exciting battle as the Spaniard likes to bombard forward and Depay would love to take advantage if the right back is out of position. Alexis will take on Varela, and it will be a long 90 minutes for the fullback, who would need cover from his team-mates. Marcus Rashford could make his EPL debut against the Gunners and his pace, power and unpredictability can trouble the Arsenal back four. Gea and Cech have both been splendid for their clubs and made 58 and 87 save respectively in the EPL this season. De Gea’s brilliant shot is stopping, and Cech’s consistency, experience and good reflexes have saved both clubs many points. The keeper who shines today can lead his club to victory.
Neither of the two teams would be satisfied with anything less than a win. Hence, it might not be as open as it was at the Emirates earlier in the campaign. Nevertheless, expect nothing less than a breathtaking encounter with tactical battles. I fancy Arsenal just to nick it and to take advantage of Man United’s injuries, fatigue levels and inexperience.
Words by: Hasan Shahid