Arsenal hosts Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon on the back of a poor 3-2 home defeat against Greek champions Olympiakos last time out.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has come in for criticism from media and fans alike for his decision to pick Colombian ‘keeper David Ospina last time out, who made a terrible error against the Greek side.
However, despite that criticism Arsenal have the chance move level on points with their opponents in the Premier League table.
Despite that Champions League defeat, Arsenal’s Premier League form has slowly but surely been improving in recent weeks. The Gunners have now won four of their last six Premier League games, and suffered just one defeat that came at Chelsea.
Arsenal has been waiting for electric Chilean forward Alex Sanchez to find form this season. The former-Barcelona star scored a hat-trick in the Premier League last time out, and also scored in the Olympiakos game.
When on his game the forward is one of the best players in the English top-flight and has the ability to cause any defence trouble. It looks like Sanchez is about to find his top form. It is vital that he does, as when Sanchez performs his teammates seem to lift their performances.
Forward Theo Walcott has now also scored in consecutive games in all competitions. The England international has been rotated in that lone striker role with French star Olivier Giroud this season, but currently looks to be first choice at the moment for the Gunners.
The north London side were linked with a host of strikers in the summer and failed to recruit that high-profile striker in the summer. At the moment Walcott is taking his chances in front of goal.
Arsenal has had good players and good teams in recent years, but seems to have a mental problem when it comes to winning against their rivals in the Premier League. Last season the Gunners won just one of their six games against top four teams.
That win came at Manchester City, as the Gunners produced the perfect away performance with a 2-0 win. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger seemed to have finally overcome his stubborn habit of not looking at the opposition, and just sending his team out to play their usual passing game attacking style.
At times the veteran French boss has been naïve and stubborn with his team selections and tactics at times against the Gunners rivals. Even at the Emirates Stadium the Gunners seem to struggle to get the better of their rivals, and that is why they have not challenged for the Premier League title in recent years.
Arsenal have been struggling at the back in recent games, just when it looked like the centre-back partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel were developing a good understanding at the heart of their defence.
The Gunners have now conceded two or more goals in their last two games and clean sheets have been hard to come by this season, despite the signing of Czech ‘keeper Petr Cech from Chelsea.
Their defensive problems have been added to by Koscielny picking-up an injury against Olympiakos, which means that Gabriel is likely to partner Per Mertesacker at the heart of the defence against Manchester United.
Manchester United are in form having won four consecutive games in all competitions, which took the Red Devils to the top of the Premier League table. The Red Devils have been knocked off the top of the Premier League table by rivals Manchester City, who hammered Newcastle 6-1 at home earlier today.
United have looked far more solid in defence in recent games. However, it is at the other end of the field that United have impressed in recent games, with Spanish midfielder Juan Mata and young French striker Anthony Martial particularly influential.
Mertesacker and Gabriel will have to be at their best to subdue the lively Martial in attack, as the former-Monaco star has hit the ground running in English football.
The Gunners are favourites for this clash at odds of 21/20, but Wenger’s side have a habit of under performing against the big teams, and United are one of those big teams.
A win over Louis van Gaal’s team will surely be a good way to make up for that poor performance against Olympiakos, but it will not hide the fact Arsenal have a propensity to shot themselves in the foot.
The Gunners need to find a mental strength to be able to challenge for the big trophies, and unfortunately it does not look like the current group of players are capable of that.
Can Arsenal defeat Manchester United on Sunday?