Arsenal have no time to wallow in misery after our late sucker-punch defeat to Chelsea just days ago, as we welcome Manchester United to The Emirates.
Despite yet another loss – meaning we have just a solitary win in fifteen games – spirits are pretty high in the Gooner camp.
We saw enough in the narrow loss to the Blues to indicate we are on the right track and also that there are enough improvements compared to recent weeks. We ran Chelsea pretty close and if it weren’t for individual errors costing us late on, we would have been toasting a memorable and welcome win.
Instead, we are looking at a fixture against Manchester United and searching for points, beginning 2020 in the bottom half of the table.
Manchester United aren’t exactly in great shape at present and are maddeningly inconsistent. Don’t you just know it though, that this game we will see the best of the Red Devils and Rashford and co?
We need to be prepared for just that. We need to show that first half of Chelsea, that version of Arsenal. That means a high press, plenty of pressure and above all, quick attacking.
United will be coming to our stadium with a win in mind and we have lost four on the spin at home for the first time since the 50s. Far from good enough. Mikel Arteta has called on fans to make the ground a fortress again, and we backed the players in the last game.
Just who will take to the pitch to try and arrest this slide? Who makes Arteta’s team? Can you pick the team?
There may be some welcome additions to our squad as they return from injury.
Dani Ceballos is in the frame to be on the bench for this game after returning from the hamstring injury that has kept him out for two months.
Even better, our defence could be bolstered by the return of Hector Bellerin, although Ainsley Maitland-Niles has done a fine job in his absence.
Rob Holding is another who is close to returning and will be tested prior to kickoff, and Sokratis is back after recovering from concussion.
Granit Xhaka too will be back after recovering from the same injury as Sokratis, so Matteo Guendouzi could be swapped out for the Swiss man, although with transfer details emerging, he could be preserved.
Does Nicolas Pepe start? Reiss Nelson did really well against Chelsea and will be in prime position to hold onto the right wing spot, although after playing two games in four days, Pepe may well step in.
Player to Watch
He is the chief weapon of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season and has bagged the most for the Red Devils this season. Even though Anthony Martial is the man in form, it will be Rashford that will carry the main threat. If allowed to turn and run at us, our defence will flounder. Rashford is strong in the air too, and will need to be managed closely.
How This Could Go
Both teams are struggling, but it is safe to say that United have at least spluttered into life at some points this season, whereas we are barely waking up.
Still, that forty five minutes against Chelsea was the best we have played this season, and the players look like they believe in Arteta and his vision.
That means that we will be out of the blocks from the off and I firmly believe that we will score early again.
From that moment, we need to score a second. If it ends 1-0 at half time, I doubt we have the fitness levels needed to stick the second half like we approach the first. We need to make the most of a fast start, and if we don’t, we will regret it.
Predicted Team – Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Saka, Torreira, Xhaka, Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 To The Arsenal