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Manchester United vs Arsenal Preview: Team news, Probable lineups, Tactics & Key Stats

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Manchester United and Arsenal renew their historic rivalry at Old Trafford tonight in a blockbuster Premier League clash. The Red Devils will look to end their three-game winless run in the league and pick up their first top-flight victory of the post-Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era. However, they haven’t beaten the Gunners in their last six league meetings. They lost 1-0 to The Gunners last season, with the visitors now aiming for consecutive wins at the stadium. Heading into the midweek round of fixtures, they were twelve points off the top of the table and five below fourth-placed West Ham United, with that gap likely to increase by the time they take the field on Thursday.

Michael Carrick will stay in charge for the Arsenal clash as newly-appointed interim manager Ralf Rangnick’s arrival has been slightly delayed by administrative issues. And the club legend will be hoping to lead the team to a much-needed win and put them back in contention for the Champions League qualifying spots.

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Arsenal are just outside the top four and will be hoping to keep the pressure on West Ham United with another positive result in the midweek. The Gunners head into the contest against Old Trafford on the back of a comfortable 2-0 victory over Newcastle United, bouncing back quickly from the hammering that they had received from Liverpool a week before.

Mikel Arteta & co. will be hoping to build crucial momentum heading into a busy festive period with a victory over their eternal rivals as they look to solidify their position in the top six. The north Londoners had bagged a 1-0 win over the Red Devils in the corresponding fixture last season and will be gunning for a similar outcome on Thursday.

Form generally goes out of the window in a top-billing fixture like this. But it nonetheless promises to be an enticing encounter between the two traditional rivals

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Team News & Tactics

Manchester United

Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane continue to be sidelined with injuries, but Manchester United could welcome back Luke Shaw and Edinson Cavani to the roster when Arsenal come visiting. Captain Harry Maguire is back in contention after missing the Chelsea clash due to suspension.

Carrick has made a couple of huge calls in the last two games, dropping the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo, and might decide to keep Maguire on the bench on Thursday. Instead, he could stick with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly at the heart of the defence while Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles continue as the full-backs, with Shaw likely to be eased back into action. David de Gea will continue to man the goal.

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A diamond midfield formation was utilised in the draw against Chelsea, but we could see United revert to their usual 4-2-3-1 setup against Arsenal with Fred and Scott McTominay forming the double pivot while Nemanja Matic drops out of the lineup.

Despite an underwhelming display last time out, Bruno Fernandes ought to get the nod as the No. 10. Ronaldo should return to the lineup on Thursday night. Jadon Sancho, who has scored two goals in two games, should hold onto his spot in the starting XI, moving out to the right flank while Marcus Rashford starts on the left.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Bailly, Telles; McTominay, Fred; Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo

Arsenal

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is sweating over the fitness of Bukayo Saka, who came off injured against Newcastle. Given the quick turnaround between games, the England international might not be risked at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Sead Kolasinac and Granit Xhaka are ruled out.

The Gunners will set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation at Old Trafford and look to take the game to their hosts. Aaron Ramsdale, who has been in top form since joining Arsenal in the summer, is a certain starter in goal. No changes are expected in defence with Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Nuno Tavares all starting, which means Kieran Tierney will have to suffice with a place on the bench again.

Moving into the middle of the park, Albert Sambi Lokonga has established himself as a certain starter and will look to dictate play with his impressive range of distribution. He will have Thomas Partey for company in the pivot, with the Ghanaian tasked with disrupting the hosts’ rhythm and forcing turnovers.

With Saka likely to be held back, Gabriel Martinelli could get the nod on the right flank while Emile Smith Rowe continues out on the left. Along with Martin Odegaard, the duo will carry the creative threat for the visitors and look to engineer chances for the main striker and club captain, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Partey, Lokonga; Martinelli, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang

Key Stats

  • Manchester United are without a victory in their last six Premier League games against Arsenal. They have never gone seven league games without a win against the Gunners before.
  • Following their 1-0 win at Old Trafford last season, Arsenal are looking to win consecutive away league games against Manchester United for the first time since February 1979.
  • Manchester United have won just once in eight Premier League matches (D2, L5). The tally of five points collected during this period is the Red Devils’ fewest over an eight-game spell since bagging just four points between December 1989 and February 1990.
  • Arsenal have won seven of their past ten Premier League games (D2, L1).
  • Manchester United have failed to keep a clean sheet in their previous 14 home games in all competitions.

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