One of the biggest Premier League rivalries continues this weekend as Manchester United host Arsenal in a clash that has massive repercussions across the Premier League, despite just being both side’s sixth game of the season.
Should the Gunners head back to London with all three points, it would leave them 9 clear of Erik ten Hag’s side, and two points clear atop the table even should results go against them. More importantly, it will take Mikel Arteta’s side 9 points clear of Manchester United, and continue their 100% unbeaten run.
A win for the Red Devils, however, could see them end the weekend in the top 4, and just four points off the top of the Premier League despite a terrible start to the campaign.
For practical reasons as well as historic, then, it is a massive clash, and 101 have broken down just where the game will be won and lost.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney, Xhaka, Lokonga, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus, Martinelli
Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen, Fernandes, Sancho, Rashford, Antony
1. Antony vs Kieran Tierney
All eyes will be on Manchester United record signing Antony when the sides kick off on Sunday afternoon, with the Brazilian expected to be thrown in from the start. He will be up against a formidable opponent in Kieran Tierney, with Oleksandr Zinchenko expected to miss out and, should he prove fit, likely to be used in central midfield.
So, the no-frills attached Scot will be up against a man renowned for his tricks in the Eredivisie, and keeping him quiet will go a long way to handing his side the advantage in the encounter.
2.Gabriel Martinelli vs Diogo Dalot
From one Brazilian winger to another, and while Gabriel Jesus has hogged the headlines, the high-flying Gabriel Martinelli has also begun the Premier League season in the best form of his career.
Three goals in five Premier League games so far is a testament to that, and with Diogo Dalot having made the right back position his own under Ten Hag, it will be his job to marshall the Brazilian firecracker, and he will certainly need help from his forwards when the Gunners decide to double up on the defender.
3.Casemiro vs Granit Xhaka
In previous seasons, the only battle between these two would be who would pick up a yellow card first, and both will still be among the bookies favourites to go into the referees notebook over the course of the 90 minutes.
However, Granit Xhaka’s new license to roam forwards means that he is increasingly found in the left channel of his side’s attacks in the final third. If, as expected, Casemiro comes into the Red Devils side for Scott McTominay, the Brazilian will have to keep on the former Arsenal captain and his runs into the box.
Should he be able to keep Xhaka quiet, it will go a long way to winning the game for his side.
4. David de Gea vs Arsenal’s press
David De Gea is not particularly good with the ball at his feet by the high standards of a modern-day goalkeeper, and that sits at odds with the style that Erik ten Hag is trying to implement at Old Trafford.
Against Brentford, and in their win over Liverpool, the plan was to go long with De Gea’s kicking and win the first and second balls. Against Arsenal’s effective high press, they may be forced to do the same, and much will rely on the Spaniard’s decision-making to ensure the Red Devils aren’t caught short at the back.