Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Arsenal

By Malamine Sane
Manchester United-Arsenal
Photo courtesy of Wayne Rooney’s official Facebook page

Arsenal will face Manchester United this Sunday at Old Trafford in a very anticipated clash. For Arsenal, it will be a chance to go 11 points ahead of United while United will be looking for their first win against a top-four team after a draw against Chelsea and a loss to Liverpool.

Both teams are in good form and have won their last two league games. United defeated Stoke 3-2 in very dramatic fashion two weeks ago, scoring two goals in the last 15 minutes and Fulham 3-1 last weekend. Arsenal beat Crystal Palace two weeks ago and Liverpool last week confirming that they were serious title contenders.

Arsenal will more than likely be in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation. Arsene Wenger‘s team will field a very similar team to the one that beat Liverpool last week.Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker will be in central defense in front of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczeny flanked by Kieran Gibbs(left back) and Bakary Sagna (right back). In midfield, Mathieu Flamini will be playing as a holding midfielder while the in-form Aaron Ramsey will play his usual box-to-box role. The German playmaker Mesut Ozil, will play in support of striker Olivier Giroud with Santi Cazorla on his left and Tomas Rosicky on his right.

Manchester United have rarely fielded the same team twice in a row this season even though they have consistently used a 4-4-2. David Moyes has often been forced to make changes due to injuries, suspensions and bad performances but for such an important game, the Scottish manager will most likely go with experience and start Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in central defense. Goalkeeper David De Gea has played every league game this season and should be between the sticks on Sunday again. Rafael, if he recovers from his ankle injury on time should be on the right of the defense while the vice-captain Patrice Evra will as usual be United’s left back.

The midfield area is where Moyes seems to have the more work to do. Michael Carrick has been the only consistent player this season, which makes it difficult to predict United’s line-up in this part of the pitch. Marounae Fellaini, sent off in midweek against Real Sociedad in the Champion’s League should get the start. Nani (left midfield) and Antonio Valencia (right midfield) should be the two wide men.

Upfront, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie will once again lead United’s attacking line. Rooney has been in great form this season with five goals and five assists in nine Premier League games. His partner, Van Persie has scored six times and provided two assists.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal

Manchester United has had a terrible start of the season but seem to be back on track now. Moyes’ men have their back against the wall and understand the importance of this game. Arsenal have so far been better this season, but Manchester United always perform well when under these conditions.

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