Arsene Wenger will make his final trip to Old Trafford on Sunday as Arsenal manager.

Oftentimes in the Premier League, games have a tendency to be over-hyped. It is difficult to recall the last time Liverpool and Manchester United contested an entertaining match against each other in the league, for example. But United-Arsenal, for better or worse, is never a game to not live up to the hype.

Marc Overmars’ winner in 1998; the double decider in 2002; Martin Keown getting quite personal with Ruud van Nistelrooy; and the 8-2 drubbing of 2011 are just some examples that spring to mind over the years. There have been many more.

So, as Wenger steps into the dugout for his final clash with the Red Devils, can one expect a gripping encounter? Well, there’s not a great deal to play for in the league and Arsenal have the small matter of a Europa League semi-final second leg to worry about during the week, and yet still… you wouldn’t bet against it.

Two weeks previous, United suffered perhaps there most harrowing and surprising defeat of the season. Almost certainly relegated West Bromwich Albion came to Old Trafford and left with all 3 points thanks to a Jay Rodriguez winner. If they were still in contention for the title, the result would have been beyond disastrous.

If Arsenal are to emulate the Baggies, then Man United will have lost consecutive home games for the first time since March 2014, at which time they were managed by David Moyes.

It will be tough though – there recent home record is pretty impeccable, having gone on a 10-match home league run without a loss (Won 7, Drawn 3) since 2006.

And that’s without mentioning Arsenal’s frankly atrocious away record. They are the only club in the top four English divisions to have lost all of their away league fixtures in 2018. For this record to change against a 2nd place Manchester United side would be unexpected, but stranger things have happened.

With 57 points on the board, Arsenal are highly at risk of recording their lowest ever points tally under Wenger, which would be an unfortunate way for the Frenchman to bow out of a league he once had such dominance in. The previous lowest was 67 points in 2005/06 – a loss on Sunday and it will be mathematically impossible to eclipse it.

On the pitch, Arsenal have a relatively fit team, but are expected to do some heavy rotation from the Atletico Madrid game.
Moheamed Elneny and Santi Cazorla are out, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is doubtful, and as such, is unlikely to be risked against his former club.

For United, Antonio Valencia will likely be back in the side after missing the FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham. Aside from back-up goalkeeper Sergio Romero, the rest of Mourinho’s side is fit to play.

Certain to play a part is striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, considering he is cup-tied for European fixtures. One feels if Arsenal are to cause problems against United, he will be vital.
Alexandre Lacazette and/or Danny Welbeck may be rested or will play a smaller part in the match; Laurent Koscielny may be rested after his error against Atletico, with plenty of potential defensiuve replacements available, such as Calum Chambers and Rob Holding.

Also in line for another start is Reiss Nelson, who would fit into the side nicely in a 4-2-3-1, with Alex Iwobi playing behind Aubameyang. It’s not Arsenal’s strongest them, but the midweek game obviously has to take precedent.

United, in a similar vein to the Gunners are a team that are prone to mishaps, but that’s not to say they haven’t got strength in their team. This match marks Alexis Sanchez first game against his old side – he can be expected to have a frosty reception from the travelling contingent.

In the reverse fixture from December 2017, it was Jesse Lingard who caused the most problems, finding the net twice, adding to Valencia’s early strike. In that match, goalkeeper David de Gea put in one of the performances of his career, saving 14 efforts – the most by a Premier League keeper in any match this campaign.

The rivalry between Wenger and his United counterpart Jose Mourinho has been long-documented. It wasn’t long after Mourinho touched down in London with Chelsea in 2004 that he laid down his first barb at the Frenchman, and it is a rivalry that lasts to this day.
Speaking before the match, the Portuguese manager was asked whether he had any regrets about his interaction with Wenger.

"Regret? Little negative episodes, yes I do. There were little things where it would be obviously better without them, you know, some gestures, some words, it would obviously be better without it. I feel better now without it, no doubts about it" he said.

He also admitted that he was thankful for the tough matches they played against one another. Some rare kind introspection from Mourinho – it will be interesting to see whether it will hold out until after the full-time whistle blows on Sunday.

In terms of the table, after Burnley drew with Brighton on Saturday, it looks as if 3 points will be enough to cement 6th place in the table. Chelsea are still within grasp in 5th with 4 games remaining, so it is still important that points are on the board. For United, if they can secure 4 points in the next 4 games, 2nd place belongs to them.

With the second leg of the Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid surely taking vast precedence in Wenger’s mind, it’s a bit of a shame this classic fixture is lacking some of the import it has had in the past. Nonetheless, the French manager will be looking to bow out in glory at a ground that has seen some of his finest and worst moments in management.

Arsenal make the trip to Old Trafford to face up against Manchester United on Sunday, with kick-off scheduled for 4.30pm.