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Unai Emery is the manager Manchester United need as emboldened Arsenal look set to end wretched Mourinho and Old Trafford runs

Manchester United vs Arsenal TV channel, kick-off time and predicted teams

When? Wednesday, 8pm

Where? Old Trafford, Manchester

What channel? BT Sport 1

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Shaw, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Rashford, Lukaku, Martial

Arsenal: Leno, Mustafi, Sokratis, Holding, Bellerin, Torreira, Guendouzi, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Aubameyang, Lacazette

Keep an eye on…

aubameyang

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the Premier League’s leading scorer

With Unai Emery so good at changing the flow of a game in second halves this season through substitutions and in-game tactical tweaking, it almost seems pointless to look at what starting XI he picks.

Still, there will be a demand for Arsenal to go with two up front as both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are in such good form and look particularly potent when they play together.

Then there’s this stat…

In short: scoring goals will be important for Arsenal, and this may be their best chance of coming away with decent numbers at Old Trafford, with United’s defence in the state it’s in right now.

And speaking of United’s defence, keep an eye on how Jose Mourinho lines up there with reports of a huge injury crisis at the club ahead of this game.

As noted by Goal, Victor Lindelof is out injured, Ashley Young is suspended, while there are doubts over Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly and Luke Shaw.

In other words, sorry United fans, but better start getting used to the idea of Scott McTominay: Centre-Back.

Form…

These two are poles apart at the moment, with Arsenal 19 games unbeaten and going into this game on the back of a superb performance to beat Tottenham 4-2 in the North London Derby.

United, meanwhile, were dire again in a 2-2 draw against strugglers Southampton, who even sacked Mark Hughes after the humiliation of dropping two points against the Red Devils, possibly.

Both sides have their flaws, however, with goals surely guaranteed tonight as neither team is too adept at keeping clean sheets, with no team above the bottom five conceding more goals than their 23 so far this season, while Arsenal’s record of 18 conceded is the worst in the top five – more than Liverpool and Manchester City’s put together, which is probably a decent indication of why they’ll fall short of a title challenge this season.

Fixture history

Despite the declining fortunes of these two clubs, it feels like Manchester United vs Arsenal will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Premier League fans.

*The* fixture that defined the Premier League in the 1990s and most of the 2000s, there used to be a fierce rivalry between these two that is unlikely to ever be matched.

The two best teams, the two best managers, the two most talented and most competitive midfield hard-men in Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, this game had everything.

In recent times, of course, the Red Devils have majorly had the upper hand, with no home defeat in the league to the Gunners since all the way back in 2006.

This fixture may now be entering a new era with Arsene Wenger gone, and one big task for Emery will be to make the north Londoners more competitive in games like this one.

In the dugout…

Bold claims like this can be made to look rather silly later this evening, but there’s a case for saying Emery has been the best manager in the Premier League this season and exactly what United look like they need.

The Spaniard took on a near-impossible job of replacing a club legend – albeit a beleaguered one in Wenger – and did so at a time when the Arsenal squad was arguably at its weakest in decades.

Despite that, and without much in the way of resources to strengthen in the way that United, City and Liverpool have in recent times, Emery has lifted this squad to  new levels, coaxing massively improved displays out of pretty much everyone, and quickly stamping down his style of football and a more gritty competitiveness to a team so sorely lacking in it beforehand.

mourinho united

Jose Mourinho is having a poor season at Manchester United

Mourinho, meanwhile, may well be nearing the end of his time as a leading Premier League manager, having massively under-achieved with this MUFC squad.

Nothing the Portuguese tries seems to work anymore – with numerous questionable signings, an unconfident squad that he seems incapable of handling without resorting to petty public put-downs, and a style of football the club’s fans loathe, without the good results to justify it.

Prediction…

Arsenal’s record at United is awful. Arsenal’s record against Mourinho teams is awful. This is undoubtedly a new Arsenal, but is it enough? Will this be one big test too many?

Are we allowed two predictions? Arsenal will either get their usual nosebleed and be totally uninspiring in a 2-0 defeat, or this will be a memorable evening to announce the start of a huge new era under Emery and they’ll consign Mourinho to the sack with a 3-1 win.

What do you mean we have to pick one? Okay, screw it, the second one.

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More Stories Alexandre Lacazette Jose Mourinho Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Unai Emery