The more I read about Arsenal’s big match against Man United tomorrow the more worried I get! And the latest news from the official Man United website is that they are expecting David De Gea and Chris Smalling to return for the game, and the Gunners are having enough problems scoring goals as it is….
Here is the enemy’s preview of the match:
Scene-setter: United will seek a return to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League this weekend after defeat to Sunderland two weeks ago. The Reds are currently sitting in fifth place in the table, six points off the top four, while Arsenal are third and targeting their first league title in 12 years. United have won six and drawn two of the last eight Premier League home meetings with Arsene Wenger’s men.
Form guide: United have built up some momentum in the last two games, beating Shrewsbury Town in the Emirates FA Cup before reaching the Europa League last 16 by defeating Midtjylland in resounding fashion on Thursday. Now Louis van Gaal’s side are looking to get back on track in the league, having won only two of the last six games in the English top flight. Arsenal have also won just two of their last six league games, though one of those was the last-gasp 2-1 victory over leaders Leicester City a fortnight ago. The Gunners are trailing 2-0 in their Champions League last-16 tie with Barcelona after the first leg on Tuesday.
Latest team news: David De Gea and Chris Smalling could be back for United after both missed the game against Midtjylland through injury, while Adnan Januzaj is also in line to return. Marcos Rojo returned to action off the bench against the Danish champions but Anthony Martial is a doubt after injuring his hamstring in the warm-up, meaning two-goal Marcus Rashford could retain his place. The game is likely to come too soon for Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Marouane Fellaini, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, while Wayne Rooney, Will Keane, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw are definitely out. Gabriel Paulista is expected to return for the Gunners but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out after picking up a knee injury against Barcelona in midweek, with Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla also unavailable.
Sub-plots: Daley Blind is poised to make his 50th Premier League appearance for the Reds on Sunday, while Danny Welbeck is set to return to Old Trafford for the second time since leaving United for Arsenal in 2014; the England forward scored the winner when the Gunners visited in the FA Cup last season.
View from the dressing room: “Our mindset is right now and we’re focused on the next game. The club is working hard behind the scenes to get the players right but we’re not going to rush anyone back – we need everyone at 100%. But I think we’ll have a strong enough squad against Arsenal to beat them. I speak to Danny [Welbeck] quite often and he’s doing well – he scored for them recently but hopefully he won’t score against us!” – Jesse Lingard
View from the opposition: “We go to Manchester United in a good position – we don’t want to give that up. We have a great chance to focus on the Premier League and forget what happened in the last 20 minutes [against Barcelona]. Leicester City was a good game to make us believe we are still in it. You need to have little successes on the road. We go step by step, nothing else. We have a great chance on Sunday to do that again and show that we can compete for the title.” – Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker
Danger man: Last time the two sides met, at the Emirates Stadium in October, Mesut Ozil bagged a goal and an assist inside the first seven minutes of the game. The 27-year-old has 17 assists in total this term and is on course to record the most in a Premier League season, breaking a record currently held by former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry with 20.
It certainly sounds like they are feeling confident after a couple of wins against minor opposition, but what really worries me is that they have been scoring goals, while we have not….