By John Ryan
- Manchester United travel to The Emirates for a second away day of the week
Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have never liked each other. Wenger doesn’t like Mourinho’s tactics and Mourinho doesn’t like losing.
Wenger was considered for the Manchester United manager’s job when Alex Ferguson decided to leave Old Trafford in 2001. While Mourinho was not considered when he did leave in 2013.
This weekend they face off again with Wenger having just one win over Mourinho in fifteen attempts. With Mesut Ozil also a potential transfer target for United in January. The Emirates stadium is set to host a feast of football.
Until 1999 Arsenal could have argued that they were on a par with Manchester United. The FA Cup semi-final result and treble win pushed United ahead.
Arsenal’s ‘invincibles’ 2003-2004 season was an amazing achievement and put the clubs on a similar footing once more.
But then came the 2009 Champions League semi-final, United completed a three in a row of league titles and Wenger’s men were firmly in Ferguson’s shadow.
Even three Managers since, Arsenal have not been able to claw back any ground on United.
Lying second in the table you could be forgiven for thinking there is a crisis at Old Trafford. United are eight points behind City but Guardiola’s men have been in sparkling form.
True to form Arsenal are in fourth position. United’s away form has been reasonably patchy and the defeats at Chelsea & Huddersfield saw United failing to break down their opposition.
A shut out cannot be afforded on Saturday. Arsenal have won all seven home games in the league this season so far. As they showed midweek if Arsenal get any momentum in a game they can simply run riot.
Both Managers Missing Key Players
Marouane Fellaini is a doubt for United after a knock to his knee while Nemanja Matic was forced out of the Watford game midweek.
Phil Jones is out of the defensive unit which leaves room for Eric Bailly to return. Paul Pogba recently back from injury should play while Anthony Martial has featured recently and could be rested.
Alexandre Lacazette came off injured midweek for Arsenal which leaves room for Olivier Giroud to start up front.
Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck are available to Wenger while Santi Cazorla is a long term injury facing into an operation for an achilles problem.
As neither side has won the title for five seasons this is not the mouthwatering stop everything clash it once was. There should be no pizza throwing or the elevation of stopping a long unbeaten run.
But this game will have plenty of bite. A defeat for either side could be damaging to their season while a draw leaves everyone facing the prospect of Manchester City riding off into the distance.
United have to go for the win and with Arsenal’s defence having conceded sixteen goals this season they are vulnerable at the back.
If Mourinho’s men can break with flow as they did at Vicarage Road there are goals to be scored. If Arsenal score first we will have a superb game of football on our hands.
United simply cannot slip up and with seven goals conceded on the road in seven Premier League games the likelihood is Arsenal will score.
Verdict Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United