Nine games to go, nine opportunities to secure a top4 spot in Unai emery’s first season.
The first of the nine sees us take on old enemies Man United with both clubs on opposing trends.
Us? We haven’t won in the last two games in all competitions, and we performed abysmally against Rennes, a side that are midtable fodder in Ligue Un.
United? They are on a high after performing Mission Impossible against PSG in the Champions League and have achieved Houdini-like escapades in the Premier League to recover from an awful start to the season to now be very much in the picture for the top four.
So, where does that leave any of us looking for optimism?
We are a vastly different side at home compared to away from The Emirates. We are unbeaten in our last fourteen games at our ground, and nine of our 13 league victories over United have been on a Sunday, so there is precedence, although Solskjaer’s men are on an incredible away run - nine successive away wins in all competitions.
Something has to give.
Lucas Torreira’s suspension will be upheld after our appeal of his red card in our draw with spurs was ignored.
Alexandre Lacazette will most likely return to the side after sitting out the defeat to Rennes through suspension, but will Emery name him as well as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack? With Ozil playing midweek, normally Emery rests the playmaker so there will be space for him in the side, but Ramsey could also be named in the team.
In defence, Ainsley Maitland-Niles remained on the bench in our Europa League game so it is likely he will take the right back spot, with Mustafi making way. Much will depend on if Emery opts for five at the back.
With Torreira out, will Guendouzi start the game? The youngster seems to have the confidence of Emery, and could provide the link between attack and midfield.
Player to Watch
Paul Pogba is in fine form recently but it will be the wide men that will cause us most concern. The law that states returning players to previous clubs may well come to haunt us, and Alexis, despite his awful form, could be the difference between the sides.
Mind you, the same could be said for Henrikh Mkhitaryan...
The Chilean will be pumped to play, and with Anthony Martial only just returning from injury, he could be in the side and don’t you just know that this match will be the one he turns up in?
How the Match Will Go
We need to atack, and frequently. the best form of defence is attack, and we have shown real weakness when on the back foot.
This match is winnable, but only if we make our chances count. Our strikers aren’t at their best right now, but a goal or two in this high profile fixture could make the world of difference.
United’s defence do concede, and if our playmakers, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan or whoever it may be, need to find the spaces in and around the box to lure out the defenders to make space for our frontmen, so they can go in behind.
We will be relying heavily on our frontmen to do what they do best. If we fail to capitalise on our chances, United have shown they are more than adept at making us pay.
We need a good day at the office, and we are well overdue one.
Predicted Lineup - Leno, Maitland-Niles, Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Ramsey, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline - Arsenal to edge it - 2-1 to The Gunners