It took some time, as most long projects do, but Mikel Arteta’s process has proven to be the right direction for the club so far. The squad looks more likely to contend for the top four and improve in the coming years, injuries withstanding. So far this season the team has been up to every hurdle thrown into their path, but Sunday’s clash will push the side more than they have been thus far. In the last 24 hours, the club confirmed the departure of Hector Bellerin and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, as well as additional injury concerns for both Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Odegaard. All the while, no final day arrivals as the transfer window closed. Not the ideal run-up to a match at Old Trafford.
In the decade between 2008 and 2018 the two sides have played 26 times. Arsenal lost 16 times, drawing five and just five wins. Since then the Gunners have begun to rebalance the match-up with four wins over the last eight games, losing only once in the league. Last season the two sides traded home wins and nine goals scored across those matches. Arsenal has a great history of scoring at Old Trafford over the last decade and recent form would indicate we could be in for quite an entertaining battle.
The Opposition Q&A with The Busby Babe.
- Eddie Nketiah
- Fabio Vieira
- Matt Smith
- Charles Sagoe Jr
- Ben White
- Rob Holding
- Cedric Soares
- Matt Turner
- Left Out: Reiss Nelson (injury), Thomas Partey (injury), Mohamed Elneny (injury), Oleksandr Zinchenko (injury) & Martin Odegaard (injury)
- Not the situation you want heading into a big Premier League match and the start of the Europa League Group Stage over the next week. It’s the unfortunate combination of ill-timed injuries (not that injuries are ever really well-timed), the departure of midfield options from the squad, and the lack of incoming options on deadline day. Everyone knew the midfield needed one more starting caliber player. Missing out on an addition while also having four options for the midfield all injured at the same time is quite the unwelcome hurdle.
- While the moves are in the best long-term interest of the individual players, the departures at the end of the transfer window limit Arteta’s options this weekend. Maitland-Niles could have been midfield coverage. Miguel Azeez has notable professional-level experience and would have been another midfield option for the bench.
- Unless Odegaard is cleared for the squad the bench will feature a new face from the U21 squad. With Matt Smith getting the call-up on Wednesday he likely remains with the squad. From there I think Mikel Arteta will opt for an attacking player like Sagoe Jr (five goals and two assists already this season in Premier League 2) or Khayon Edwards, Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, or Kido Taylor-Hart.
- While the backline has been playing well, Mikel Arteta should seriously consider resting Ben White. Saliba and Gabriel will likely be rotated out of the starting XI for the first Europa League match next week for Rob Holding and Ben White. With both Takehiro Tomiyasu and Cedric fit, there isn’t a reason to risk overusing White. Especially with the number of injuries the team is currently dealing with.
How to watch
Sunday (9/4) at 11:30 am ET / 8:30 am PT on the USA Network.
Arsenal - 2
While United have been pulling in positive results recently, Arsenal’s attack should be able to get at their defense. The Gunners’ preference to play out of the back and ten Hag’s desire to press high could be the telling battle in which side gains the advantage and more opportunities to control the game.