The Theater of Dreams has been a Theater of Nightmares for the Arsenal lately. The Gunners haven’t won at Old Trafford since 2006. For whatever reason, regardless of the form of either team, Arsenal can’t seem to get it done away to Manchester United.
Will that change on Monday’s trip? If it doesn’t, I’m not sure it ever will. United are are 1-2-2 in their last five. They’ve lost as many home matches in their last 6 as they had in the previous 52. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will likely be forced into starting 17-year old Mason Greenwood at striker because both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford are injured. Of course Arsenal have a tendency to make young Manchester United strikers look like the second coming of Pelé (see e.g. the previously mentioned Rashford), but I’m just going to glide right past that. United will likely also be without disgruntled superstar Paul Pogba as he recovers from an ankle injury. In short, United are ripe for the taking.
Arsenal arrive at Old Trafford on a small upswing. Last weekend’s 10-man, comeback win against Aston Villa has surely boosted the side, and the Gunners followed it up with an (expected) thumping of Nottingham Forest. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is arguably the most in-form striker in the world right now — he’s got 6 goals in 6 Premier League games this season, has scored or assisted in every league game, and has 16 goals in his last 16 appearances in all competitions.
The upswing is helped by the returns of Héctor Bellerín, Rob Holding, and Kieran Tierney to the fold. Of the three, Tierney has the best shot at featuring against Manchester United and may even get the start. Bellerin, along with fellow injury-returnee Dinos Mavropanos, played for the U23s and will not be available. Rob Holding is expected to make the bench. Alexandre Lacazette remains out until sometime in October.
As Tony (06NOLE) wrote, even though it is early in the season, this match feels like a potential turning point in Arsenal’s Premier League campaign. It’s a chance for the Gunners to make a statement about who they are and to erase some of the demons that have plagued the club of late.
More importantly, it would move the Gunners back into third in the table, three points clear of Tottenham and Chelsea, six points clear of United. And after United, Arsenal have a nine-game, favorable run of matches. A win would springboard the club into that stretch and give Arsenal the opportunity to put some early daylight between themselves and their top 6 rivals. A loss keeps them mired in the early-season table congestion and perpetuates those all-too-familiar negative narratives about the side.
WHAT: Arsenal at Manchester United
WHERE: Old Trafford
WHEN: Monday, September 30th 12:00 PM PT | 3:00 PM ET | 8:00 PM BST
US TV: NBCSN. Streaming here.
Check out livesoccer.tv for all your international streaming needs. As always, please do not discuss links to illegal streams here.
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