Arsenal’s surprise defeat to Swansea gave Manchester United an opportunity to revive their top 3 hopes by defeating the Gunners at Old Trafford, but the North London side are in a much better positions at the moment seeing as they are two points clear and also have a game in hand. Nonetheless, they will want to cement the third place in the standings ahead of the final day of the league campaign.
Despite splashing the cash on Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao, Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo in the summer, Manchester United’s performances this season depended a great deal on the availability of veteran midfielder Michael Carrick, with the Red Devils boasting a 14-3-1 record when the England international was on the pitch. It is, therefore, not surprising that team’s impressive run of results ended when Carrick suffered his latest injury, with United going on to suffer straight defeats to Chelsea, Everton and West Bromwich. Louis van Gaal’s charges somehow managed to end the barren run as they defeated Crystal Palace on the road, and they now have an outside chance of securing automatic Champions League berth in the final two fixtures of the season. Manchester United do need to win their remaining two games and hope that Arsenal will suffer another slip-up, but at least the Red Devils will have something to play for. Louis van Gaal will again have to make do without Michael Carrick and Rafael, but Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw should be available despite suffering knocks last weekend.
Up until the weekend’s shock defeat to Swansea, Arsenal were in the driving seat for a second-place finish, but they could now finish the campaign in fourth place and get involved in the Champions League qualifying stages. Such a scenario does look unlikely given that the Gunners will have two easy home games after the Manchester United derby, meaning that not even a defeat at Old Trafford would prove too costly. But, with the FA Cup final drawing closer, Arsene Wenger will want his charges to secure a top 3 finish as soon as possible so that he could rest his starters in the final league fixture against West Bromwich. In all fairness, Arsenal probably did not deserve to lose to Swansea, but they largely struggled to break the defence-minded opposition and were punished for missed chance when Bafetimbi Gomis scored a late winner. The Gunners can be expected to adopt a cautious approach when they face Manchester United at Old Trafford seeing as they would be perfectly happy with one point, so everything suggests chances will be few and far between. The latest reports suggest that Danny Welbeck will not recover in time to face his former club, while Mathieu Debuchy, Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are out injured.
With Manchester United strikers misfiring at the moment and the build up play hardly impressive in Michael Carrick’s absence, the Red Devils could find it hard to break Arsenal at Old Trafford, especially as the Gunners are unlikely to take too many unnecessary risks. Hence, under 2.5 goals looks a good option here.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 1/1