Mustafi set to return in crucial match against United
Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United – Premier League – 07.05.2017
So, here we are. Ten years later than first predicted but Arsenal are now unlikely to finish in the top four. Or are they? When things are at their darkest I incongruously find an extra bit of hope. What is fuelling my current sense of optimism is the hubris of Jose Mourinho.
Not only has our thorny foe claimed he will rest players because the Europa League is more important he has been publicly bashing his players again. It didn’t work for him at Chelsea and I do not believe it will work at United either.
Arsenal cannot finish above Tottenham and there is little chance of finishing in the top four without favours from other sides. We’ve seen Arsenal time and again find their form when it seemingly matters least. Free from the burden of expectation Arsenal’s players may have the freedom to express themselves in a way more conducive to good results. You can bet on the upcoming match and my money is on Arsenal sneaking a win.
Much is made of Wenger’s inability to beat Mourinho with only one win in 15 competitive attempts – yes, the Community Shield is a competitive fixture. However, Wenger will want to score a win over his bitter adversary in the Premier League where he has zero wins in twelve.
United’s need to rest players may perhaps make this a little easier however Arsenal are not without selection headaches of their own. Mohamed Elneny or Francis Coquelin will have the task of filling in for the injured Xhaka. Ramsey and Xhaka have flourished as a partnership in recent weeks so it is a shame that their progress and development will be disrupted. Mustafi may feature in this match having returned from injury which will be a boost to Arsenal’s new look defensive shape.
Arsenal have not lost at the Emirates in four matches and Mourinho has no wins at our new home in three attempts. This could be the last time Wenger and Mourinho go head-to-head so it would be a rare moment of brightness in an otherwise cloudy season if we can finally deliver Wenger a win over his self-appointed mortal enemy.
Arsenal (from): Cech, Martinez, Macey, Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Gibbs, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Özil, Walcott, Reine-Adelaide, Iwobi, Alexis, Welbeck, Giroud.
“We have no choice, we have to beat them.” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal (19.11.2016)
- Manchester United 3-2 Arsenal (28.02.2016)
- Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United (04.10.2015)
Manchester United are currently unbeaten in 25 consecutive Premier League games – a club record – and will be hoping to make it 26. Fatigue may be their undoing having played on Thursday evening, their 9th match in 5 weeks prompting Mourinho to announce he will play a weakened team. Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will likely sit this one out with Celta Vigo in mind.
However, this is Manchester United so even a weakened team can cause Arsenal significant problems with Jose likely to call on experienced players like Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney.
The likelihood of this announcement just being mind games is high so don’t be surprised if Mourinho has a last-minute change of heart and plays his strongest team.
- Manchester United lost this fixture 3-0 last season but that is their only defeat in the last 11 league meetings (W6, D4).
- This will be the 50th Premier League match between these clubs. Arsenal have won 12 and United 22, with 15 draws.
- Arsenal have already lost six league games in 2017, as many defeats as they suffered in the whole of 2016.
- The Gunners have only lost one of their last 15 Premier League home games (W11, D3), with that defeat coming against Watford on 31 January.
- The last season in which both Arsenal and Manchester United finished outside the top four was in 1978-79, when they ended seventh and ninth respectively.
- Arsene Wenger’s only win in 16 previous encounters as a manager against Jose Mourinho came in the 2015 Community Shield (D7, L8).
- This will be Wenger’s 58th match against Manchester United as Arsenal boss. They are the opponents he has faced most often in his managerial career.
- Alexis Sanchez is two shy of 50 Premier League goals for Arsenal.
- The Red Devils are unbeaten in 25 top-flight games – a club record within a single season – but have drawn 12 of those matches.
- They are one of three clubs to have claimed more Premier League points on their travels than at home this season, along with Manchester City and Crystal Palace (prior to the latest round of fixtures).
- United have drawn a league-high 14 games this season. If they share the points on Sunday it will be their highest total of draws since 15 in 1991-92 during a 42-game campaign.
- Manchester United have won their last four Premier League fixtures which have come immediately after a Europa League game.
- Jose Mourinho has never lost a Premier League game against Arsenal, winning five and drawing seven of his 12 previous meetings with the Gunners.
- Wayne Rooney has scored 11 Premier League goals against Arsenal – more than any other player – and has 14 goals in 33 league and cup games versus the Gunners.
The optimist in me is going for a 2-0 win for Arsenal.
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