the Red Mancs are coming to the Home of Football for an early Saturday night battle for momentum. They suffered a painful loss to the Blades and desperately need to bounce back as to avoid Citeh to run away from them in the table. The Gunners are on a great run and have the bit between their teeth; a win would catapult us forward and give us all belief that we can still go places this season. If the Mancs win the gap between us and them will be 13 points, but if we win it will be just seven, and that is a big, big difference. I expect Pool and Citeh to be out of our range once they get back into their strides again, but any other team in the league we can catch. Not that we should look too much at the table right now (hard not to, though). Let’s just focus on OGAAT, on tonight’s game and try and win it.
It will not be easy to get the double over the Mancs. They have hardly any injury issues right now, and as a settled team they are a bit further than us. Their midfield was over-classed by us in the return fixture but has improved a lot since then. Fernandes is a great player and Pogba and McTominay in deep(er) midfield have started to form a half-decent partnership. Yet this is where we should be able to overpower them again, and this midfield battle will once again be crucial. MU love to sit back a bit a spring a counter from possession regained in their own half, and with the likes of Rashford, Cavani and enfant terrible Greenwood they can hurt us. Yet if we sit back a bit more than we did against the Saints and play a more controlled game, the Mancs will struggle to create chances. They will have to come forward more and that will suit our intricate passes game more. Still, I also hope we will press them high at times and force errors as we did on Tuesday. It should be a great battle and the winner will feel galvanized afterwards.
Arsenal have some fitness doubts right now and it is still not clear whether Auba is available or not as I write this. Tierney and Partey seem ready to play and that would be great news. Let’s assume that Auba is not ready yet, which will leave us with the big question who shall replace him. ESR is a doubt and that could leave us with a choice between new boy Odegaard or the much maligned Willian. MO11 may not be match fit as yet, so I expect it to be either ESR, Willian or maybe Martinelli. At the back I expect a return of Gabriel as we will need his athleticism against Greenwood, Rashford etc. I sense this will be a game for Martinelli, the hungry Brazilian, especially if Emile is not fully fit to start. Together with Saka and Laca (and hopefully a confident Willian) they can destroy the Mancs’s defence tonight.
My preferred starting-11:
Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!