Pre-Match Report

Preview: Arsenal v Manchester United

Arsenal v Manchester United

We could claim a third-straight home league win against Manchester United for the first time since 1991 on Sunday afternoon, as Mikel Arteta’s team aim to bounce back from the late heartache sustained against Fulham last time out.

In what is always one of the most mouthwatering clashes of the Premier League season, we host Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils who have yet to burst into life so far this campaign, despite having won two of their first three matches.

The two sides faced off in New Jersey in friendly action just 43 days prior to this top-flight meeting, but much has changed for both clubs since that July evening Stateside as both aim to strike an early blow to their opponents’ seasonal aspirations.

United dreading London calling?

Manchester United celebrate scoring against Nottingham Forest

After a £165 million summer spending spree that saw Mason Mount, Rasmus Hojlund and Andre Onana arrive, the Red Devils kicked off their campaign with an unconvincing 1-0 win against Wolves at Old Trafford thanks to a second-half Raphael Varane goal.

They then headed to north London and fell to a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, extending their poor form in the capital, where they have claimed just six points from their last 10 league visits, and are winless in their last five. 

After that result, things looked to be going from bad to worse when they found themselves trailing by the same scoreline after just four minutes against Nottingham Forest last weekend, but goals from Christian Eriksen, Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes turned things around to salvage a win from the jaws of defeat.

What the managers say

Arteta: "We know the history between the two clubs and the games that we had in the past. They were a really good example so it’s going to be a really competitive match and a big battle on Sunday. Obviously we want to come away from that with three points.

"We all want to win games, we all want to play the best possibly way. That’s not going to dictate but it gives you momentum and belief. Before the international break, it’s very important to finish well and win your game and go into September with another block of games on a high."

Erik ten Hag

Ten Hag: “It’s one of the biggest games in the Premier League. We are really looking forward to the fight. They are always interesting games, intense games between two teams who play really offensive football with the right intentions. The audience is always the big winner of the game, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Talking tactics

Bruno Fernandes celebrates scoring for Manchester United

Adrian Clarke, writing in the official matchday programme: It feels as if United are in a period of tactical transition. Ten Hag's preferred shape has looked more like a 4-3-3 in the early stages of this campaign, with Casemiro the designated holding midfielder, flanked by Fernandes and Eriksen, with the former naturally drifting towards the right side.

They are playing out from the back with greater frequency, with new goalkeeper Onana, an excellent distributor, signalling that change in priority. As they evolve their style the Red Devils are pressing with greater hostility too. At their best on counters and quick transitions, United progress the ball upfield at a rate of 1.81 metres per second, the second-fastest average in the division behind West Ham United. On the left Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho are exciting speed merchants, while on the other flank Anthony and Jadon Sancho are potential match-winners.

Chance creation is a strong suit for United, who have generated 55 shots already, including 42 from open play. Only Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion have boasted more attempts, with Fernandes at the heart of most things. 

United’s engine room has looked vulnerable at the start of this campaign, with opponents slicing through the middle of the pitch with too much ease. When they don’t use a double pivot, Casemiro, who was superb last season, can be left isolated and exposed.

Team news

Takehiro Tomiyasu

Takehiro Tomiyasu is available for selection again after his suspension, while Jurrien Timber and Mohamed Elneny remain out of contention with knee injuries.

Raphael Varane was withdrawn at half-time of last week’s win against Nottingham Forest and will miss a few weeks, adding to ten Hag’s lengthy injury list.

New signing Rasmus Hojlund has yet to make his debut due to a back complaint, but has been passed fit for Sunday's game, while fellow recent recruit Mason Mount picked up a hamstring strain on his debut and will be out for another month. Luke Shaw is expected to be out for longer with a muscle injury, with his left-back deputy Tyrell Malacia sidelined with a knee problem.

Amad, Tom Heaton, and Kobbie Mainoo are all also injured for United.

Facts and stats

Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring against Manchester United

We have won four of our last five home league games against Man Utd, including the last two. We last won three in a row against the Red Devils between 1988 and 1991.

United have lost five of their last nine Premier League meetings with us (W2 D2), one more than they had in their previous 23.

We have lost just two of our last 24 Premier League home games (W18 D4), going down against Manchester City in February and Brighton in May. We have scored in 22 of these 24 games, netting at least twice in 20 of those.

United have won six of their last seven Premier League games, losing the other in north London against Spurs last month.

Manchester United have had more high turnovers (41) and pressed sequences (56) than any Premier League side so far this season, while only Brighton (11) have had more shots following a high turnover than the Red Devils (9). We, however, have only had 12 high turnovers against us this season, the fewest of any side to have played at least three games so far.

Bukayo Saka has scored in each of his last three appearances against Manchester United – no player in our history has ever scored in four consecutive league games against the Red Devils.

Bruno Fernandes has scored three goals in his last five Premier League appearances for Man Utd, having scored just once in his previous 15 combined.

Match officials

Anthony Taylor

Anthony Taylor takes charge of this one, as we aim to change our fortunes with him in the middle having lost the last two against Nottingham Forest and Manchester City. However, he did oversee this same fixture last season as we recorded a 3-2 win.

That was the last of a run of eight straight wins we had strung together with Taylor at the helm, and we have lost just eight of his 47 appointments. Going into matchweek 4, no referee has dished out more yellow cards than him.

  • Referee: Anthony Taylor
  • Assistants: Gary Beswick, Lee Betts
  • Fourth official: Darren Bond
  • VAR: Jarred Gillett
  • Assistant VAR: Simon Bennett

Recent visits from the Red Devils

We are unbeaten in our last five home games against the red half of Manchester, after last season’s 3-2 triumph when Eddie Nketiah netted twice - including a dramatic late winner - and Bukayo Saka scored a wonderful strike from range to see us overcome Eric ten Hag’s team.

The season before, we ran out 3-1 winners when strikes from Nuno Tavares, Saka again and a goal of the season effort from Granit Xhaka grabbed the three points.

The previous year brought a 0-0 draw, but on New Year’s Day 2020 we claimed a 2-0 success with Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis getting on the scoresheet - the same scoreline we recorded six months earlier when Xhaka and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang netted.

Breakdown Live

Breakdown Live

Adrian Clarke and Nicole Holliday will be live from Emirates Stadium an hour before kick-off with our pre-match show, helping hype you up for the big game with a host of great guests.

As well as providing analysis of where the contest could be won and lost, and who the key protagonists could be, the pair will be joined by rapper AntsLive and comedian Jacob Hawley, while a host of supporters from the Vienna Gunners will also be in the box.

Then from 4.30pm, live commentary comes from Dan Roebuck and Perry Groves who will take you through all the twists and turns of one of the Premier League’s biggest games of the campaign.

Find out how you can watch the game live, wherever you are in the world.

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