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Arsenal at Manchester United: upping the difficulty

A stiff test for Mikel Arteta’s in-form Arsenal side.

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Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal travel to Old Trafford today to take on an in-form Manchester United team. Erik ten Hag’s side lost their first two matches of the season, including a shock 4-0 defeat at Brentford, but have since rattled off three straight wins. The Gunners have won all five Premier League of their Premier League matches and are looking to maintain that perfect record. A win at Old Trafford would send a signal to the rest of the league that Mikel Arteta’s side are really for real.

It’s difficult to pick out focal points for today’s match because United are still very much a team in transition. We know Erik ten Hag wants his side to press high to win the ball back in good positions, but that systemic pressing looks a work in progress. They’ll put pressure on the Arsenal defenders, but I don’t think at this point their press is a well-oiled machine. That’s not to say that it won’t force a couple turnovers, but I think the Gunners will find some joy from breaking the press.

Ten Hag also wants his teams to possess the ball, which United have not been doing much of this season. They’ve been ceding possession and relying on their midfield to shield the back four. Blockbuster signing Casemiro might change that as the season progresses although we’re in the “pushing for his first start” stage rather than the “integral part of how United want to play” portion. Regardless, if he does start over Scott McTominay, United’s midfield gets immediately better.

Not-so-fun fact: Manchester United is one of the Premier League clubs against which Gabriel Jesus has not scored. Today would be a fantastic day to change that record, especially because in the 48 PL matches in which Jesus has scored, his team has never lost.

Anthony Martial misses out for Manchester United, but new signing Antony could be available after getting his paperwork sorted.

Martin Ødegaard, Aaron Ramsdale, and Alex Zinchenko have all traveled with Arsenal despite their fitness questions. If I had to guess, I’d be most confident that Ramsdale is available after feeling something in his hamstring during the Aston Villa match. Ødegaard was on the receiving end of a nasty challenge from John McGinn and has a foot / ankle injury as a result, I have a feeling (hopefully not just optimism) that he will see the pitch, too. As far as has been reported, Zinchenko has not trained at all this week — I doubt he’s ready.

Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are both out longer-term.

Arsenal - Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Sambi, Xhaka, Saka, Ødegaard, Martinelli, Jesus

Manchester United - De Gea, Malacia, Martinez, Varane, Dalot, Eriksen, McTominay, Fernandes, Antony, Sancho, Rashford

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Manchester United
WHERE: Old Trafford
WHEN: Saturday, September 4th 8:30 am PT | 11:30 am ET | 4:30 pm BST
US TV: USA and Telemundo. Streaming on fuboTV.

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