Arsenal face Manchester United in their last ‘big six’ clash of the Premier League campaign on Sunday, with a place in the top four up for grabs.
After Arsenal suffered a disappointing 10-man defeat to Rennes on Thursday, they need to pick themselves up for the biggest remaining game of their league season. Manchester United sit just one point ahead of the Gunners in fourth, but Chelsea could overtake both if they win their game in hand.
As a result, a win may be necessary to really push for that final Champions League spot. It won’t be easy though, with United on a fantastic run of away wins including one at the Emirates in the FA Cup.
On the upside, it seems two of the goalscorers from that day will miss out, with Alexis Sanchez and Jesse Lingard seemingly injured. As for Arsenal, let’s have a look at our predicted lineup for the clash.
Goalkeeper and Defence
After missing out in midweek, Bernd Leno should be back in goal. The German goalkeeper made a couple of fantastic saves against Tottenham Hotspur last week, so the fans will be hoping he can repeat the trick against Manchester United.
Sokratis’ red card on Thursday will likely force Emery into a couple of decisions. The Greek international may as well start this one, as there’s no point resting him for Thursday anymore. Then one of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi will probably drop to the bench to keep them fit for the second leg.
That will most likely be Mustafi, with his place on the right being taken by Stephan Lichtsteiner. This entire plan revolves around the Swiss international being fit though, as he’s now missed out on a couple of matchday squads for unexplained reasons. If he’s out, Arsenal may well go with a back three and Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the right.
On the left, Sead Kolasinac should start. Nacho Monreal made a couple of mistakes in midweek, and the Bosnian played well last time he faced United.
Arsenal’s options in midfield are limited after Lucas Torreira’s red card against Tottenham Hotspur. The Uruguayan international will be suspended, leaving Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka pretty much guaranteed to start. Mohamed Elneny hasn’t even been making the squad recently, so it’s unlikely that will change against Manchester United.
In front of those two, it seems probable Aaron Ramsey will get the nod over Mesut Özil. Emery continues to pick the Welshman for the big Premier League clashes, and Özil started against Rennes on Thursday.
If Lichtsteiner is out and Arsenal go with a back three, Ramsey will be the player to miss out for the extra centre-back.
So far, Emery’s choice of striker for each match from the last few weeks has been completely predictable. After Alexandre Lacazette’s Europa League suspension was extended, it made sense to rotate between the two from game to game, meaning Lacazette will start this one, then Aubameyang on Thursday.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi are likely to start once again, as it would be really strange to suddenly give Denis Suarez his full debut against Manchester United, and no one else is really available in the wide positions. Plus, the duo have been performing well recently.
Predicted Starting XI
Arsenal vs Manchester United Betting Tips
Alexandre Lacazette has five goals in his last seven league games, and he was unlucky not to be awarded one against Manchester United earlier this season. Bet on Lacazette to score anytime with BetUK at 5/4.
Both teams have scored in each of the last four meetings between the two sides. Bet on BTTS with BetUK at 5/9.
Manchester United haven’t kept a clean sheet against Arsenal since 2014. Bet on the Gunners to score over 0.5 goals with BetUK at 1/5.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Manchester United (27/4 with BetUK).