Saturday, December 15, 2018

Prediction: Manchester United vs Arsenal

Verdict: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime

Best Odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Bet365

Looking to build off last weekend’s north London derby, Unai Emery and his 18-game unbeaten Arsenal side will travel to a struggling Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

Manchester United

Starting with the hosts, while they may have battled back from two early goals to take a point off of a struggling Southampton side over the weekend, their sluggish start to the new Premier League season has shown no signs of improving. Now failing to win any of their last three league matches, including a lackluster 0-0 draw in their last outing at Old Trafford, the Red Devils now find themselves eight points adrift of the top four and Jose Mourinho has all but written of securing Champions League football this season. In a campaign that has been their worst start in over three decades, it will be their woeful defensive record giving the former Chelsea boss the biggest headache. The Reds have recorded just one clean sheet in their last 10 Premier League matches and have conceded 23 goals in their opening 14 appearances, no team outside of the bottom five holds a worse defensive record.

Team News

Manchester United are short of defensive options, and will hope Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly recover from respective foot and back problems.

Ashley Young serves a one-game suspension, Phil Jones is reportedly nursing an injury, and both Luke Shaw and Romelu Lukaku were forced off with knocks on Saturday.

Arsenal

As for the visitors, while Mourinho is enduing the most difficult run of his career, Unai Emery couldn’t have wished for a better start to his tenure at the Emirates. Despite trailing against Tottenham at half-time in Sunday’s north London derby, Arsenal’s three second-half strikes secured a famous 4-2 win over their bitter-rivals and also saw them leapfrog them into fourth place. Currently enjoying a remarkable 19-match unbeaten run across all competitions, a run that stems all the way back to August, a win would give the Gunners 16 away points – as many as they claimed in total on the road last season. With United’s defence so publically struggling, one man who will be relishing the chance to come up against them will be the leading Premier League goalscorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Scoring a brace against Tottenham over the weekend, the 29-year-old already has 10 for the season and is currently averaging almost a goal per game so far.

Team News

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka is suspended after accumulating five yellow cards.

Playmaker Mesut Ozil is unlikely to feature because of back spasms.

Key Factors to Consider

  • The 82 most recent league and cup encounters had featured one or both of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
  • Manchester United are unbeaten in 11 home league matches against Arsenal since September 2006 (W8, D3).
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has now scored 23 in his last 21 Premier League games.
  • United have conceded 23 goals in their opening 14 Premier League games – only the bottom five (prior to the latest round of matches) have a worse record.
  • Last season it took the Red Devils until 10 March – and 30 matches – until they conceded 23 league goals.

Conclusion

On paper, Unai Emery should see this as the perfect opportunity to end their Old Trafford jinx. Given United’s dreadful defensive record and the fact that they have managed to record just one clean sheet in their last 10 league matches, we’re backing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to extend his goalscoring tally on Wednesday night.

Verdict: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime

Best Odds: 10/11

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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