Manchester United – Arsenal preview: Can new-look Arsenal finally take Man United scalp?

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A lot has happened in the last 12 years of human history in both football and the world itself.

During that time only three players not called Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi have won the Ballon d’Or. Take That reunited, brought back Robbie Williams, broke up again, and became a trio. And Donald Trump went from reality TV star to evil leader of the free world, somehow.

12 years is also the last time Arsenal won their last Premier League match away to Manchester United, which is exactly what’s going down on Wednesday night in the biggest game of the midweek slate of fixtures this week.

A tale of two different teams

It’s crazy to think it’s been that long since the Gunners have won at Old Trafford in the league. Arsenal have gone to Manchester on numerous occasions as the favourites during that time and have still managed to come away the losers.

The North London side have fallen to not only the late, great Manchester United sides of Sir Alex Ferguson, but also the banter squads of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. To say Old Trafford is a bogey-ground for Arsenal would be an understatement.

Even now in the present day, Arsenal will be coming into this game the favourites. The Gunners are on the back of their biggest win of the season so far after beating North London rivals Tottenham 4-2 after a thrilling game on Sunday afternoon, whilst Man United salvaged a draw away to Southampton in a result that was so poor and embarrassing that the Saints promptly fired manager Mark Hughes the following Monday.

Unai Emery’s side are also on an impressive 18-match unbeaten run that started all the way back at the end of August, creating an impressive eight-point lead over Jose Mourinho’s 7th place United team.

The history

Although Manchester United have been on a downward spiral since the departure of Fergie, the Red Devils still remain the dominant team in the fixture. The Manchester side have only lost twice in their past 10 encounters against the Gunners in the league, with both losses coming at the Emirates Stadium.

This fixture has also proved to be an English football classic since the 1990s when both teams were at their pinnacles, although the most notable moments to come from this rivalry in the past few years have been the emergence of Marcus Rashford, who scored twice against the Gunners in his league debut, and the infamous 8-2 win in August 2011.

The team news

United could be forced to create a makeshift defence for Wednesday’s game. Ashley Young will be unavailable due to suspension meaning summer signing Diogo Dalot could be in line to make his first league start for his new club.

Victor Lindelof is also ruled out due to injury, meaning Phil Jones is likely to retain his place in the starting XI. Marcus Rashford could also miss out due to a knock the winger picked up against Southampton. Former Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez is also out due to a hamstring injury.

For the Gunners, Granit Xhaka is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season on Sunday, whilst Mesut Ozil is still a doubt due to the back strain that has kept him out of the last two matches.

Prediction

Everything, and I mean everything points towards an Arsenal win. Emery has got the side playing some exquisite football, and the result on the weekend against Spurs will no doubt motivate the side even further to get a result at Old Trafford and to keep their unbeaten run going.

But even with all that, I am backing Manchester United to get the job done and to end Arsenal’s unbeaten run. Mourinho might be the next Premier League manager to face the chop and is brandishing a very negative style of football, the Portuguese coach somehow manages to find a way to get a result in the unlikeliest of games.

History is also incredibly in favour of United picking up the win, and in the past, we have seen even worse United teams beat even better Arsenal teams than what we will see on Wednesday night.

Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal

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