Arsenal and Manchester United are set to meet on Sunday at the Emirates Stadium in a game that could go a long way to deciding the two clubs fates in the race for Champions League football.
In recent history, both teams would have been competing for the Premier League title. However, the pair has fallen down the pecking order of English football in recent years. They now find themselves scrambling around for a place in the lucrative Champions League.
Arsenal have made Europe’s elite competition for 20 consecutive campaigns, but that record is in serious danger this season. The Gunners are currently sixth place in the English top-flight table and six points behind Manchester City, who occupy the final Champions League berth.
Arsenal do have a game in hand on the men from Manchester. However, their recent form does not necessarily suggest that Arsene Wenger’s side will record a victory in that extra game. The Gunners suffered a 2-0 defeat at arch-rivals Tottenham in the north London derby last weekend, which brought to an end a three-game winning run in all competitions.
However, the side from north London does have a good home record in the top-flight, having won eight of the last ten Premier League games on home soil. Wenger’s side have also been relatively prolific on home soil in the league this season, scoring two or more goals in seven of their last ten home games in the top-flight. At the other end of the field, the north London side have also managed to keep three clean sheets in their last four league outings at the Emirates Stadium.
Manchester United missed a golden opportunity last weekend when they drew 1-1 at home against Swansea. The draw means that the Red Devils are fifth place and just one point behind city rivals Manchester City in the table. United are still 25 matches unbeaten in the top-flight, though, and their recent away record in the Premier League is impressive. Jose Mourinho’s side are unbeaten in 11 games on their travels in the top-flight, recording eight wins in the process.
Despite injuries to key defensive players, Mourinho’s side have also kept clean sheets in six of their last eight away games in the English top-flight, conceding just twice in that run. In fact, United have conceded just once in their last five Premier League outings.
Team News – Arsenal are still without German centre-back Shkodran Mustafi and Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla through injury, while Cazorla’s compatriot Lucas Perez remains a fitness doubt. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger may decide to recall young defender Rob Holding after the Tottenham defeat. The Red Devils are without defensive trio Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Timothy Fosu-Mensah through injury, while Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will also miss out through injury. Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini will miss out through suspension.
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Prediction – This clash is typical of a team with a good home record facing a team that normally performs better on their travels. Neither side has been in sparkling form in recent games, though, so this could be a game that ends in a draw.