Manchester United vs. Arsenal – 2:05pm local time on Sunday, February 28, 2016 at Old Trafford
Match odds at CrownBet.com
Man United – $2.80
Arsenal – $2.66
Draw – $3.20
Man United – 5th
Arsenal – 3rd
Premier League form
Man United – W L W D L
Arsenal – D L D W W
Last five EPL meetings
Arsenal 3-0 Man United
Man United 1-1 Arsenal
Arsenal 1-2 Man United
Arsenal 0-0 Man United
Man United 1-0 Arsenal
MANCHESTER United need to get the lead out if they wish to stay in touch with the top four in the 2015-16 English Premier League table.
The Red Devils have taken only eight of a possible 18 points from their last six games, losing to both Southampton and relegation-threatened Sunderland in the process.
Even after last week’s shock Europa League defeat to FC Midtjylland, however, the general mood around Old Trafford is somewhat brighter than it was a few weeks ago (despite those rumours about a certain Jose Mourinho).
Louis van Gaal’s men have played a much more purposeful and eye-catching brand of football in recent times, led by the resurgent Wayne Rooney.
But the United captain is out till April with a knee injury, adding yet another high-profile name to the Red Devils’ alarming injury list.
With up to 14 senior players sidelined, endeavour alone will not be enough against an Arsenal side which smashed United 3-0 at the Emirates earlier this season.
The Gunners will be desperate to bounce back after their 2-0 UEFA Champions League defeat to Barcelona in midweek, although recent history isn’t on their side in this fixture.
Prior to the win in October, Arsenal had gone eight Premier League matches without beating their fierce rivals from the north.
That was only their third victory in 17 EPL meetings with United since November 2007.
To compound things even further for Arsene Wenger and company, their form outside the Emirates has rather deteriorated as the season has worn on.
Having notched 10 wins from their 12 previous away matches, the Londoners’ last seven road trips in Premier League 2015-16 have produced only two victories.
That bodes ill for the Gunners, especially when you also consider the fact they have lost six and drawn two in eight visits to the Theatre of Dreams since 2006.
Man United team news
The Reds will be sweating on the fitness of goalkeeper David de Gea, who hasn’t played since sustaining an injury during the warm-up against Midtjylland last Thursday.
Van Gaal has confirmed the Spaniard will not feature in the return Europa League tie this week, meaning Sergio Romero will be on standby to face Arsenal.
There are more problems further afield after Jesse Lingard, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Will Keane all limped out of Tuesday’s FA Cup win over Shrewsbury Town.
With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling also struggling for fitness, Marco Rojo – who is only just returning from a long-term layoff – could be thrust into the starting lineup.
The versatile Antonio Valencia is on the comeback trail, but both he and Ashley Young are tipped to miss Arsenal’s visit.
That might force an early return to action for Italian right-back Matteo Darmian, who is back in training after dislocating his shoulder in the loss to Sunderland two weeks ago.
The absence of Rooney and Keane should see Anthony Martial get a run through the middle, while Adnan Januzaj could also feature up forward after a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.
Possible Man United XI: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Memphis, Mata, Januzaj, Martial.
Arsenal team news
Just as they thought they’d seen off the worst of their injury woes, Arsenal suffered another big loss when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain went down in midweek with suspected ligament damage in his knee and ankle.
That will open up a starting spot on the right flank for either Theo Walcott or Danny Welbeck, both of whom were named on the bench against Barcelona.
Otherwise, there should be few changes to the side which faced the giants of Catalonia on Tuesday evening.
Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal should play either side of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in defence, behind Francis Coquelin and Aaron Ramsey in the heart of midfield.
Mesut Ozil will prowl between the lines in his usual free-roaming playmaker role, with Alexis Sanchez to his left, Olivier Giroud up top and probably Walcott on the right.
Possible Arsenal XI: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud.
– Arsenal to win ($2.66 at CrownBet.com)
– Half-time draw/full-time Arsenal ($6 at WilliamHill.com)
The Mancunians have had the better of this match-up in recent years, but they would have to pull a miracle out of their collective backsides to snare the three points here.
The Carrington recovery room is simply too full. De Gea, Darmian, Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Schweinsteiger, Fellaini, Valencia, Januzaj, Young, Rooney – that’s a decent 11, and they’re all currently injured or in doubt for Sunday.
Arsenal may have lost the industrious and capable Oxlade-Chamberlain, but they have plenty of cover there with Walcott, Welbeck and Joel Campbell waiting in the wings.
After a big win over Leicester City in their last outing, it’s up to the Gunners to come out and stamp their title credentials all over Old Trafford in this one.
Man United first goalscorer bets
Anthony Martial ($7.50 at Bet365)
With Rooney out, the United faithful will look to their French wonderkid for inspiration. Martial has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water and will no doubt relish this chance to announce himself as United’s main striker.
Juan Mata ($12 at Bet365)
The Red Devils’ Spanish playmaker has come in for plenty of criticism over the last few weeks. What better way to silence the haters than by netting a crucial opener against one of the club’s biggest rivals?
Arsenal first goalscorer picks
Theo Walcott ($9 at William Hill)
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury means Walcott is a red-hot chance to line up on the right wing at Old Trafford. With competition fierce for forward roles in the England team for Euro 2016, the former Southampton academy star will want to impress Roy Hodgson and company with his big-game credentials.
Aaron Ramsey ($11 at CrownBet)
Everybody knows Ramsey is a serious threat in front of goal. The Welsh midfielder spurned a couple of good chances against Barca, however, so he might feel as though he owes his teammates at least one in Manchester this weekend.
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