Saturday 2nd December. 5:30PM. BT Sport
The pick of Saturday’s fixture list sees Arsenal and Manchester United renew their rivalry at the Emirates in what is an equally crucial battle for both. For the neutral, it will be a fascinating contest as Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho lock horns once more.
Arsenal have been great at home while the visitors have looked a lot better since Paul Pogba’s return. With a chance to pile the pressure on the likes of Manchester City who play on Sunday, it’s set to be a cracker.
All Eyes On Ozil
A lot has been said about a potential transfer involving Mesut Ozil to Manchester United in recent weeks, but the German was fully focused on Arsenal with a masterclass against Huddersfield in midweek. If the Gunners’ main architect can pick the lock against the Red Devils on Saturday, the hosts could be in for a very productive evening’s work as they bid to continue their phenomenal home form.
Wenger won’t only be looking to his no.11 for inspiration in the attacking third, though. The Gunners have looked dangerous when Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez have completed the trio while this is probably the area of the pitch they’ll look to punish as the visitors haven’t always looked overly comfortable at the back. If Mourinho does park the bus, Arsenal will still fancy their chances of breaking through.
The Gunners have come unstuck against decent attacking sides this term, losing at both Anfield and the Etihad. Nonetheless, five clean sheets in their last six home league games should inspire confidence, not least with Romelu Lukaku currently a little off the boil at the heart of United’s attack.
This is a real test for Wenger’s men. If they do come through it, though, a return to Champions League football will look more than likely for the red part of north London.
Red Devils Aim To Make It Unlucky 13 For Gunners
Arsenal enter Saturday’s showdown on the back of 12 straight league wins at the Emirates, but Mourinho has spoiled the Wenger party before and would love to do it again. On the back of a 4-2 win away at Watford, the Red Devils can be confident about causing problems for the hosts.
While Mourinho has made no secrets about his desire to make his side hard to break down against the other big sides, the visitors cannot afford to lose further ground on title rivals City. A win at the Emirates would add a little pressure, but dropping points would give Guardiola’s men a chance to open up a double digit lead on Sunday. Whether they like it or not, his side will need to seek a win.
However, many would argue that Arsenal’s weaknesses come in the defensive third too. With Lukaku, Pogba, Anthony Martial and co. among their ranks, there’s no reason why the visitors need to focus solely on defensive duties, even if they are likely to take a more conservative approach than they would against mid-table cannon fodder.
There’s a feeling that it could take a little while for this one to spark into life. Once it does, though, the stage should be set for a cracker.
Arsenal v Manchester United Betting
The bookies have established Arsenal as the slight favourites for this one with Ladbrokes pricing them 7/5 for the win while Manchester United aren’t far behind 28/15.Alternatively, the draw can be backed at 23/10.
Both teams will fancy their chances in this one, and they each have several potential scorers to provide the magic spark. Right now, though, despite not playing particularly well, Sanchez is the man who has started to find the target.
The Chilean owes the Gunners a big performance, regardless of the uncertainties surrounding his future. We’re backing him to score.
Manchester United will need to go for the win, but it’s hard to see Mourinho abandoning his ‘defence first’ policy. Regardless of the result, his side could be happy to sit on the back foot for large portions.
Given that Arsenal pick up a lot of corners anyway, we’re backing them to grab at least two more than their opponents on this particular market.