Six things you should know ahead of Arsenal, Man Utd clash
The Gunners will be hoping to bounce back from their Champions League woes while United will be looking to reclaim top spot in the Premier League.
Arsene Wenger is feeling the pressure and desperately needs a win over Manchester United to ease the criticism he has been facing.
Arsenal might be within touching distance of the Premier League’s summit, but their embarrassing Champions League loss to Olympiacos during the week has ramped up the pressure on their stars.
Here are 6 things you need to know before the game kicks off:
1. Reasons for Arsenal fans to be optimistic
• Theo Walcott is in fine form, netting six goals in seven appearances for club and country.
• Alexis Sanchez ended his Premier League goal drought last weekend, plundering a hat-trick against Leicester.
2. Reasons for Man United fans to be optimistic
• United haven’t lost at the Emirates in any of their last four Premier League encounters there, winning two and drawing two.
• The Red Devils have suffered defeat in just three of their last 21 clashes with Arsenal in all competitions.
3. Recent meetings
• Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal (May 2015)
• Manchester United 1-2 Arsenal – FA Cup (March 2015)
• Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United (November 2014)
• Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United (February 2014)
• Manchester United 1-0 Arsenal (November 2014)
4. Recent form
Arsenal – Last 5 games
• Arsenal 2-3 Olympiakos (Champions League)
• Leicester City 2-5 Arsenal (Premier League)
• Tottenham 1-2 Arsenal (Capital One Cup)
• Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (Premier League)
• Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Arsenal (Champions League)
Disaster: Arsenal are on the brink of an early Champions League exit after defeat to Olympiakos
Manchester United – Last 5 games
• Manchester United 2-1 Wolfsburg (Champions League)
• Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland (Premier League)
• Manchester United 3-0 Ipswich Town (Capital One Cup)
• Southampton 2-3 Manchester United (Premier League)
• PSV Eindhoven 2-1 Manchester United (Champions League)
5. Key men to watch
With a goal and an assist against Olympiacos in midweek, Theo Walcott was one of two Arsenal players to come out of the encounter with any credit to his name.
He has ousted Olivier Giroud as the Gunners’ main striker and is in fine scoring form going into the clash with United.
If, as expected, Arsene Wenger tasks Walcott with leading the line for his side, the 26-year-old has the potential to wreak havoc in United’s defence with his blistering pace.
Juan Mata often goes under the radar at United but his contribution to the team is impossible to be underestimated.
The Spaniard has netted four goals in his last seven appearances for the Red Devils and offers great balance to the team on the right wing.
With Wayne Rooney floundering in the centre and Memphis Depay inconsistent on the left flank, Mata has been United’s greatest creative force so far this campaign.
He shone against Wolfsburg on Wednesday and, despite admitting the team was feeling ‘tired’ after the match, will undoubtedly retain his spot in Louis van Gaal’s starting line-up against the Gunners.
6. Quote corner
Wenger on Arsenal’s title aspirations: “If I tell you now that we are three points behind Man United, playing Man United at home and I don’t believe that we can win the Premier League, what do you tell me? You will slaughter me.
“Look, we play in the Premier League on Sunday. We have just won 5-2 at Leicester, so I don’t see why we should be absolutely down. We are on the back of three or four good results in the Premier League.
“We had a disappointment in the Champions League, we have to analyse it well. But I don’t see why we should not believe we can beat Man United.
“It was disappointing to lose, but overall every competition is different, you have to go in a different competition in a different state of mind and we have to be inspired by what we did at Leicester.”
Van Gaal on Wenger: “I think he’s doing great work. When you can, like Sir Alex Ferguson, stay in a club for such a long time, you have to be very good, otherwise you shall not succeed.
“So I think Arsene Wenger is one of the best coaches in the world, as is Sir Alex, who is the best, as he won the most titles.
“But Arsene Wenger, when you are with one club for a long time, and everyone is satisfied – the fans, the board, the players – then you are very good, believe me.”