Arsenal vs Manchester United is not the top of the table titanic clash it was in the days of Fergie and Wenger, but there’ll still be plenty at stake when they clash on Sunday afternoon.
The Red Devils go into the weekend fourth in the table, one point clear of their hosts. Neither team will want to slum around the far-flung corners of Europe on Thursday nights next season, so the outcome here could have massive implications in the race for a top four finish.
Not least for Arsenal, as this is their final match of 2018/19 against another side from the big six. Negotiate this hurdle successfully, and their run-in looks very inviting indeed. Paddy thinks they will come out on top too. The Gunners are 13/10 to win this one, with United available at 15/8 and the draw priced at 12/5.
The nerdy numbers from the Premier League agree with Paddy, but they overlook the fact United recently won at the Emirates without too much trouble. Three of their eight shots that night, including two of their goals, came from counter attacks and we can expect more of the same here.
However, Ole’s boys have still been giving up a lot of good chances on the road. Both Fulham and Palace had three clear-cut chances against United recently, and David de Gea had to make 11 saves in their win at Wembley. Their luck could run out here.
Best bet: Arsenal to win at 13/10.
For the Gunners to win, history suggests they are going to need to open the scoring. They are the only side who haven’t won a league game against a fellow top team after going behind in the last three years.
This could prove problematic, as the Red Devils have opened the scoring on their last two visits to the red half of north London. In fact, the only other recent big league game where United have scored first away from home was at Wembley in January. They must like that part of the world.
Whichever side does come out on top, we should expect a few goals. The last four meetings have all paid out on over 2.5 goals, as have four of the last five tussles at the Emirates Stadium.
The patterns there are almost identical for games where both teams score too. The only exception is Arsenal’s 3-0 win in 2015, but that was when Sanchez scored twice in a game and Louis van Gaal managed United. It was a weird time.
The Gunners’ games have featured the most goals in the Premier League this season. Harry Kane’s penalty at Wembley was the 100th, so balloons should’ve descended from the roof. United are joint-second in the goals per game standings, so I don’t anticipate a bore draw here.
As yours truly has promised goals, I better unearth some scorer tips to go with them.
It’s a shame neither Jesse Lingard nor Anthony Martial look likely to be fit for this match, as both have scored home and away against Arsenal already this season.
One United man who is available and currently on a hot streak is Romelu Lukaku. He recently scored twice against Crystal Palace and Southampton to take his league tally to 12 for the season, and only Harry Kane has scored more away goals in the Premier League in 2018/19. Doubts will always linger about Rom’s record in the toughest matches though, even in light of his brace in Paris on Wednesday.
The Belgian has made 21 appearances against top six sides for the Red Devils in all competitions, with his sole goal coming against a Chelsea team which Antonio Conte was steering off a cliff 13 months ago. He’ll need to do a lot more before I’ll back him in big games.
One man with a more impressive record in top matches is Alexandre Lacazette. Since the start of last season he’s scored five goals in league games among the big six, which is the joint-most of any player from either side. Four of the five came at the Emirates, and he missed two big chances against Spurs last weekend so will hope to make amends here.
Odds correct at time of posting.