The Olympiakos defeat came at a bad time for Arsenal as they had just returned to winning ways and it’s now back to the drawing board for Arsene Wenger ahead of the clash with new Premier League leaders. Having finally climbed to the EPL summit, the Red Devils will give their best to win at the Emirates and remain in front of the pack.
To be sitting in Premiership top 4 after seven games, three points behind the current Premiership leaders is not such a bad result for Arsenal standards, but the problem is that their performances leave a lot to be desired. Following back to back losses to Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos, the Gunners are in danger of missing out on the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in club’s history, although they will surely be more concerned with their Premier League campaign. Arsenal’s performances against top 6 sides this season could spell trouble ahead of the Manchester United derby, with the Gunners losing to West Ham and Chelsea, while sharing spoils with Liverpool, who would normally be considered a top 6 team. Arsene Wenger’s charges did beat local rivals Tottenham in the Capital One Cup, but even then they needed Mathieu Flamini to score a brace and prove an unlikely hero. The Gunners will now have Olivier Giroud back to the side after serving a Champions League suspension, but Laurent Koscielny, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini all miss out for the hosts.
It took a lot of work and heavy spending to take Manchester United back to the top of the Premier League, but, as that is usually the case, staying there provides an ever bigger challenge. The club chiefs and manager Louis van Gaal did make some right moves this summer, but Manchester United have yet to prove they have what it takes to mount a serious title challenge. The Red Devils do appear to lack the strength in depth, especially up front and in the heart of defence, but that did not prove such a big issue so far. Manchester United showed a great deal of character to defeat very good Wolfsburg side in midweek when they knew a draw or loss would seriously hurt their qualifying chances, and the next task is to try and extend the winning run on domestic stage. Three successive victories saw the Red Devils leapfrog local rivals Manchester City in the overall standings and a win over Arsenal at the Emirates would certainly turn them into serious title contenders. The visitors certainly have reason for optimism now that Michael Carrick has recovered from a minor injury, but Ander Herrera faces a fitness test.
While Arsenal did pretty well when facing mid table sides and relegation strugglers, the poor run in matches against absolutely top teams continues and it is the hosts who will be under pressure in this match. Meanwhile, Manchester United are showing a great deal of confidence and character, and they definitely look closer to victory here.
Verdict: Manchester United not to lose