With the game between Arsenal and Manchester United expected to be tough affair, there are some key duels that could decide the game.
Both teams have enough quality in their squads, and there are more than a few players whose brilliance can decide a match given only a single chance.
Arsene Wenger has made unexpected tactical changes to his side, but it’s unclear if he’ll continue with his experiment after the crushing defeat at Tottenham.
The new 3-4-2-1 formation that the Gunners are using hasn’t proven to be very successful, but a new system always needs some time before the players start feeling comfortable, especially when deployed at the end of the season.
Jose Mourinho on the other hand, hasn’t made any considerable changes to his tactical approach, and in the last game against City, he decided to sit deep and exploit the counter-attacking abilities of Marcus Rashord, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Against Arsenal there will surely be a change of approach, with more attack-minded football from the Red Devils.
Valencia v Sanchez
The first of the main battles will be between Antonio Valencia and Alexis Sanchez.
Stopping Alexis from running wide and cutting inside will be the main task for Ecuadorian.
Valencia has established himself as one of the best right backs in the league and has enough pace to catch up with Alexis and plenty of strength in what will be a tough battle between two very hard working players.
Alexis is expected to play a more central role, drifting wide often, and with his ability he could get away from the United man more than a few times. Ander Herera and Eric Bailly will have a lot of work to do in helping Valencia cope with Chilean.
If Sanchez manages to break free from Valencia, United could face a lot of trouble in front of their penalty box.
Carrick v Ozil
Two very creative players, able to pick a pass that cuts opposition’s lines and creating dangerous chances.
Michael Carrick will be expected to mark Ozil tightly, as the German needs to be cut off from his teammates in order to nullify his danger.
This season, we’ve seen Ozil going wide to the flanks, often making room for incoming central midfielders and if he manages to distract Carrick and lure him away from his central defensive position, there could be plenty of space for Ramsey to run into and wreak havoc.
Carrick is Manchester United’s veteran, his vast experience and intelligence are seen whenever he plays and United look like a completely different team with him on the pitch.
With any of those two managing to hold the upper hand, their team will have a huge midfield advantage.
Mkhitaryan v Monreal
This is another key battle that could make either Arsenal or United victorious come the end of match.
Mkhitaryan is one of United’s main attacking players with the Armenian often cutting inside and opening up opposition. His pace and agility will make him a very tough opponent for Monreal who will need to make sure not to give him enough space to run into.
Gabriel and Koscielny will have much to deal with watching Rashford running behind if he overcomes the problem he picked up against Celta Vigo and if Monreal does get left behind, Arsenal could have serious problems dealing with an incoming Mkhitaryan and his ability to open up space with his passes.
And for last, the most epic battle of all…
Nikola v Anita
This battle will be fought in the stands of the Emirates, as our two Daily Cannon team members make their first visit to England from Croatia to watch both their clubs compete.
As many of you know, Anita (the one who does all those wonderful graphics and articles) is a die-hard Gunners fan, and me, a life-long Manchester United fan (writing articles about Arsenal, madness, I know). We will be visiting the Emirates for the first time ever, and we expect it to be a truly great match and experience for both of us.
We’ve both had our fair share of victories in the past, one more than other, and if either of the teams manages to take all three points, the flight home is sure to be a long one for the loser.