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Premier League 2018-19: Manchester United v Arsenal Preview - 4 things that could decide the game

James Alonge
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 20:13 IST

Fellaini scored the winner in the same fixture at Old Trafford last season
Fellaini scored the winner in the same fixture at Old Trafford last season

This is a big game and unarguably the biggest game of the midweek round of matches in the English Premier League. Arsenal will travel to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United in a ground they have not won since Emmanuel Adebayor scored the winner in September 2006 at Old Trafford.

The gunners still remain unbeaten since their losses to Manchester City and Chelsea at the start of the season and are coming on the back of a morale-boosting derby win over arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

On the other hand, Manchester United are struggling for consistency in the league. They drew against Southampton 2-2 over the weekend in a game where they were 2-0 down.

Here are four things that could swing the tie in either of the teams' favour.

#1 The pace of Rashford and Martial

Martial and Rashford could be key to United getting a win
Martial and Rashford could be key to United getting a win

In times past, the duo of Rashford and Martial have been a thorn in the flesh of the gunners with their pace and trickery. Anthony Martial is a trickery winger and has the capability to turn up with goals when it matters most as seen already this season.

Marcus Rashford will test the likes of Sokratis and Mustafi with his pace. Paul Pogba has the ability to pick the runs of Rashford, especially against an Arsenal backline who plays with a high line, to keep their opponent at bay. The Arsenal defence will have to be wary of the pace of both players if they hope to come up with anything from Old Trafford.

Jose Mourinho emphasis on wing play highlight why this is important. Hector Bellerin against Martial promises to be an interesting contest. The Frenchman's trickery and pace will be up against Bellerin who has pace as well, but his ability to deal with Martial's trickery could be key to unlocking The Gunners' rearguard

Rashford will likely be on the heels of Sokratis and Mustafi to beat them for pace as well as beating the offside trap, if he succeeds, it could turn the game in United's favour.


#2 Arsenal's incisive passing and directness may also prove to be key

Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Arsenal FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Unai Emery has added two things that Arsenal were lacking under former manager Arsene Wenger: Forward incisive passing and directness. The team under Wenger were always known to be dominant in ball possession but for all the possession, they could go the whole first half without registering a shot on target.

This was usually due to the Frenchman's overemphasis on "tiki-taka" football. It became quite easy for opposing teams to beat the Gunners.

All they did was sit back and wait for their moments to counter-attack. Under Emery, it must be said that the team are more incisive with their passing games and most notably, positive when attacking the opposition. If Arsenal get their passing game on, United will struggle to cope with them.

This could wear them out as the game progresses and leave holes in the defence for the Gunners to exploit.

Arsenal has always come unstuck against United at Old Trafford, because of their insistence of scoring the "perfect" goal and playing attractive especially after the Invincibles' era

Using the likes of Alex Iwobi to run at the United defence as well as Pierre Emerick Aubameyang's pace in behind the defence could also catch the United backline off guard, especially one under Mourinho, who are not particularly good at finishing games well when they are wearied out.

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Published 05 Dec 2018, 16:43 IST
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