This weeks View From the Enemy comes direct from the official Man United website, and includes the team news from Jose Mourinho at the end. They can hardly be confident after playing Celta Vigo on Thursday night in Spain, but Mourinho rested some of his stars in that game so he will still have a half decent XI on the pitch come tomorrow afternoon….
Preview: Arsenal v Manchester United
When and where can I watch it? United travel to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal on Sunday 7 May, with kick-off scheduled for 16:00 BST. The game will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK, and fans can also follow the action in ManUtd.com’s live match blog and via the club’s official Twitter account, @ManUtd. MUTV subscribers can tune in to Match Day Live from 15:00 BST for all the build-up to the game and then listen to live radio commentary, before watching the 90 minutes in full from midnight.
Another quick turnaround... That’s right! The games continue to come thick and fast for United, with this weekend’s clash – the Reds’ fifth fixture in a fortnight – kicking off just over 66 hours after our midweek meeting with Celta Vigo in Spain. Speaking about the busy schedule, Jose Mourinho said: “The players are in accumulation with lots of minutes because we played nine matches in April and now the one against Celta, so 10 in four-and-a-half weeks. The players in that accumulation are not going to play this weekend.”
So, who is available to play? Well, goalscorer Marcus Rashford and defender Ashley Young were withdrawn during the second half in Spain, with Chris Smalling a late substitute at Estadio Balaidos. Marouane Fellaini also featured against Celta, but will play no part on Sunday as his three-match domestic ban continues, while Phil Jones travelled but wasn’t part of the matchday squad. The Reds are still without long-term absentees Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw. For the Gunners, Granit Xhaka is recovering from a calf injury and has a “little chance” of playing this weekend, according to Arsene Wenger. Goalkeeper David Ospina is available for selection again, while Shkodran Mustafi could feature after returning to training during the week.
How are both sides doing? As mentioned, Mourinho’s men come into the contest on the back of Thursday’s crucial 1-0 win over Celta Vigo, a result which takes the Reds a step closer to the Europa League final, while extending our unbeaten run to 12 games in all competitions. In the Premier League, United have conceded just 25 goals this season (the second-best total in the top-flight), and haven’t lost a game since the end of October. A disappointing 1-1 draw with Swansea at Old Trafford last weekend, however, has left the fight for a top-four spot in the balance. As for Arsenal, defeat in the north London derby against Tottenham last time out – their fifth in six league away games – means they are six points adrift of the Champions League places with a game in hand. With matches quickly running out, Sunday’s clash is a must-win for the home side.
How have we fared against Arsenal in the past? This will be the 225th match contested by the sides and, historically, United have a good overall record against the Gunners. The Reds have won 96 and drawn 47 of the previous meetings, and have lost just once at the Emirates since 2010/11, a 3-0 defeat in this fixture last season. United were forced to settle for a point during November’s reverse fixture, with Olivier Giroud’s late header cancelling out Juan Mata’s second-half effort at Old Trafford.
Team news for Arsenal encounter
Jose Mourinho has admitted he will rest players in Sunday’s Premier League showdown at Arsenal with the Europa League semi-final second leg against Celta Vigo on the horizon.
The Reds take a 1-0 lead into the Old Trafford clash with the team from La Liga and, while the boss remains determined to get one over a Gunners side that sits one place below United in the table, he is planning to make several changes.
After conceding the draw with Swansea City has seriously hampered the bid for a top-four slot, Mourinho will analyse his options as the Reds recover from the trip to Spain.
Marouane Fellaini certainly misses out, due to suspension, while Ashley Young must be a major doubt after hobbling out of the action at Estadio Balaidos. Marcus Rashford is carrying a knock but the boss hinted it was not a major problem, while Luke Shaw, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo are out for the season.
Tim Fosu-Mensah could also remain sidelined but there is plenty of positive news with Chris Smalling making his comeback as a late substitute in Spain and Phil Jones travelled but was not part of the matchday squad. Juan Mata has twice been an unused substitute as he awaits his return to action, following groin surgery, while Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney were also not called upon as Marcus Rashford’s free-kick won the tie.
David De Gea is to return in goal at Sergio Romero’s expense, despite another clean sheet for the regular Europa League keeper against Celta.
“I don’t like to say this competition is for one keeper and that competition is for another one,” explained Mourinho. “Sergio played one match in the Premier League, David played two matches in the Europa League against Feyenoord and Fenerbahce.
“Sergio also played one match in the League Cup, David played in the other matches and in the final. I don’t like that complete separation. But, Sunday, we play David. So, certainly we have two fantastic goalkeepers and we have a third goalkeeper [Joel Pereira] that I think will be the best Portuguese goalkeeper of the next generation. We have great goalkeepers and anyone in goal, my trust will be in them.”
Mourinho will rest players
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho admits he will need to rest players at Arsenal on Sunday as he believes the draw with Swansea City last weekend has probably cost the Reds the chance to finish in the top four of the Premier League.
With the Europa League semi-final second leg, against Celta Vigo, on the horizon after a 1-0 win in Spain on Thursday, the boss feels the continental competition offers the best avenue to Champions League football next season.
Domestically, United are only a point behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with an inferior goal difference, but have trips to Arsenal, Tottenham and Southampton still to come within the next 12 days ahead of a final-day clash with Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. City have a run of three home matches, against Crystal Palace, Leicester City and West Brom, before ending the season at Watford.
Liverpool are four points clear of United with only three matches to come – at home to Southampton and Middlesbrough and away to West Ham – and, while refusing to throw in the towel, Mourinho has been forced to accept he will need to shuffle his pack in the run-in.
“We are going to try,” he said of Sunday’s encounter at the Emirates Stadium. “We are not going to Arsenal to say ‘beat us 5-0 or 6-0’. We are going there to fight for a result but it’s impossible. I cannot do it another way.
“If Celta [Vigo] were playing with their best team and, if Celta were fighting for important things in La Liga, we would go [into the second leg] in the same circumstances but I cannot now play the same team that played here [at Estadio Balaidos] and then we play again next Thursday.
“So, we have to be human with the players and sensible and show common sense in relation to our situation in the Premier League. I think, in the last match against Swansea, we lost our last chance to fight for the top four so I’m going to rest players.”
Celta have been playing a shadow side in La Liga while focusing on their Europa League campaign and remain a threat to United’s hopes of reaching the final in Stockholm, despite their one-goal defeat in Galicia.