Manchester United vs Arsenal: Three Key Battles


The outcome of the game between Arsenal and Manchester United could hinge on a few individual battles on the pitch.

Manchester United and Arsenal have endured mixed fortunes this season. The two sides are involved in the biggest match this weekend as United host the Gunners on Monday.

The Red Devils have been struggling to string good performances since the 4-0 win against Chelsea on opening day. Arsenal come into this game on the back of a thrilling 3-2 win over Aston Villa last weekend.

Considering the form of both teams, this game will be decided by fine margins. Here are some individual battles that will have a major say in the outcome of this game.

Daniel James vs Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Manchester United have struggled to break down teams this season. The Red Devils have managed to score only eight goals in six league games. Daniel James has been a major contributor in this tally as he thrice found the back of the net, and the Welsh winger has been the most impressive forward for United. His blistering pace helps in hurting teams on the break.

James originally started on the right flank. However, injuries to other forwards have allowed him to play on the left, and in this position, he can get on his favoured foot while venturing into central areas. Since Arsenal will probably dominate possession on Monday, James will be a key player for United.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles served his one-match suspension against Nottingham Forest, and the English full-back delivered a strong performance when the two sides met at Emirates earlier this year. Maitland-Niles will have to be sound positionally on Monday as he is unlikely to beat James in a straight foot race. Keeping James quiet will help Arsenal in eliminating United’s biggest threat on the break.

Mason Greenwood vs David Luiz

The home side is facing injury crisis as Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are set to miss the game against Arsenal. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is likely to give 17-year-old Mason Greenwood his first Premier League start on Monday.

Greenwood has scored two goals in his last two appearances for United. The 17-year-old can shoot with both feet and has a variety of finishes in his locker. He has also shown glimpses of clever movement behind the defense.

Arsenal meanwhile has been poor defensively this season, and David Luiz especially has come under intense scrutiny due to some serious errors. The Brazilian can physically dominate Greenwood, but he cannot afford to commit errors as the young striker has the poacher’s instinct to pounce on these mistakes.

Harry Maguire vs Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been in fine form for Arsenal this season. The 30-year-old forward masks his team’s defensive frailties by scoring goals on a consistent basis, and his goal helped the Gunners to claim all three points against Aston Villa last time out.

However, Aubameyang has been poor in big games for Arsenal so far. As Alexandre Lacazette is missing Monday’s game through injury and Nicolas Pepe is still settling in to life in England, the goal-scoring onus will be on Aubameyang at Old Trafford. His pace and movement will definitely be a cause of concern for United’s stubborn defense.

Harry Maguire had his first bad game for United last weekend. The English defender has helped in tightening United’s defense this season. The Red Devils concede fewer chances, but some individual errors have let them down. Maguire’s lack of pace might be exposed against a fast forward such as Aubameyang. The duel between these two players could heavily influence the outcome of this game.


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