A top-four finish will be seen as a remarkable achievement for both managers.
As the race for Champions League qualification heats up in the Premier League, Arsenal welcome a resurgent Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on March 10. United have been riding high after the appointment of former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker manager and currently occupy fourth spot on the table while Gunners are fifth.
Both teams come into this game on the back of contrasting results in France. Manchester United scripted history by becoming the first team in the Champions League to qualify for the next round having lost the first leg of a knockout match at home by two or more goals.
They travelled to the Parc des Princes with a 2-0 deficit from the first-leg but saw a last-gasp penalty converted by Marcus Rashford propel them into the quarter-finals on away goals after a sensational 3-1 win (3-3 aggregate). The win came despite the team missing talisman Paul Pogba to suspension and a long list of injuries.
Arsenal on the other hand come into this game after a disappointing 3-1 loss to Rennes in the Europa League Round of 16 first-leg tie. Alex Iwobi gave the Gunners an early lead with a cross that snuck into the bottom corner but Arsenal crumbled under pressure following the dismissal of Sokratis Papastathopoulos for a second booking.
United will travel to the Emirates full of confidence having already beaten the Gunners on their home turf when they knocked them out of the FA Cup in January by a 3-1 margin. Solskjaer set up his team to hit the Gunners on the counter-attack back then with the approach paying off handsomely. The Red Devils could stick to the same tactic when they make the trip to North London.
Arsenal have won their last eight games at the Emirates Stadium but Emery will have to come up with a technique to counter the lighting quick counters from United. The Arsenal manager is facing an injury crises in his own club which has forced him to play Shkodran Mustafi out of position at right back. Mustafi hasn’t look convincing in that position though and Emery will hope that Ainsley Maitland-Niles will be able to recover in time to fill in that spot.
The Gunners will also be aware that a win will propel them into fourth spot with just 8 games left to play in the season. A top-four finish which secures participation in the Champions League will be seen as a remarkable achievement for both managers regardless of what happens in other competitions.
Arsenal will be without Danny Welbeck, Rob Holding, Hector Bellerin and Konstantinos Mavropanos who are all nursing injuries. Fan-favourite Lucas Torreira will also be missing due to suspension after picking up a straight red card against Tottenham last week.
United will be boosted by the return of Paul Pogba but will still be without Antonio Valencia, Alexis Sanchez, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard who are injured. Anthony Martial, Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Phil Jones are doubtful and their fitness will be assessed before the game.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobi; Lacazette
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Fred, McTominay, Pogba; Dalot, Lukaku, Rashford
Players to watch out for:
The Armenian is finally showing his best form in the Premier League since returning from injury in the 2-1 win over Huddersfield. He has stitched together a string of assists and goals since then and will be eager to impress against a Manchester United side which deemed him surplus to requirements last January and swapped him for Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal.
The big Belgian forward wasn’t first-choice striker when Solskjaer took over from Mourinho but a string of injuries to other players offered him a chance to prove his worth and the 25-year-old striker did just that. 6 goals in his last 3 games have surely sealed his spot in the starting XI and United will be hoping Lukaku can maintain his red-hot form against the Gunners.
Form guide: (all competitions - most recent first)
Arsenal: L D W W W
Manchester United: W W W D W
Betting odds: (Bet365)
Manchester United: 2
Other popular odds can be viewed on Oddschecker.
Where to watch:The match will be beamed live on the Star Sports network and will begin at 10.00 pm on March 10. Online users can catch the action live on Hotstar.The Great Diwali Discount!
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