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Preview: Manchester United vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups
02/12/2021 14:33:31

With Michael Carrick set to remain in the dugout, Manchester United prepare to welcome old foes Arsenal to Old Trafford for Thursday's Premier League battle.


The Red Devils took a point from their meeting with league leaders Chelsea last time out, while the Gunners saw off Newcastle United 2-0.


We say: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal


It is difficult to know exactly what to expect from this Man United side as the club works to sort out Rangnick's visa, but if the hosts want to impress the much-admired German, a greater urgency to press higher up the field should be on the menu.


Arsenal's alarming lack of goals away from home will not be helped by Saka's expected absence and Aubameyang's misfiring tendencies, but they have been a bogey team for United in recent years and can harbour hopes of all three points here, although they may have to settle for just one.


Match preview


Michael Carrick has earned two positive results during his time in 'interim interim charge', but on Monday morning, the news that all Man United fans were waiting for was announced, as Ralf Rangnick prepares to lead the team for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.


The 63-year-old's work permit has not been sorted in time for him to take the reins on Thursday, but a Carrick-led Man United performed valiantly at Stamford Bridge to take a point home from a 1-1 draw on Sunday evening.


After the decision to bench Cristiano Ronaldo sent shockwaves through the fanbase, United took the lead as Jadon Sancho took advantage of Jorginho's heavy touch before the Italian - who finished third in the Ballon d'Or - restored parity from the penalty spot.


However, that point has done little to help United's position in the table, as they sit eighth with 18 points to their name - three places and five points worse off than their upcoming opponents - and home has not been where the heart is for the Red Devils recently.


Indeed, United have taken just one point from their last four Premier League games at the Theatre of Dreams - scoring only once in that time - but the home crowd will certainly be in a vibrant mood as Mikel Arteta's young guns seek to spoil the party.


After witnessing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang produce one of the worst misses the Emirates has ever seen and the ever-reliable Aaron Ramsdale being forced into action again, it seemed like it was going to be one of those days for Arsenal before Mikel Arteta's starlets came to the fore.


Bukayo Saka linked up neatly with Nuno Tavares to open the scoring before being forced off injured, but his replacement - Gabriel Martinelli - took no time at all to double his side's lead with a deft volley from Takehiro Tomiyasu's delightful pass.


The Gunners quelled fears of a lack of open play goals by responding in the perfect way to their Anfield thumping, and following West Ham United's defeat to Manchester City, Arteta's men are now level on points with their fourth-placed counterparts.


Arsenal are undoubtedly benefitting from the rare absence of European football this season, and they had kept three consecutive clean sheets on the road before losing at Liverpool, although a paltry three goals away from home is the second-fewest in the league behind Norwich City.


However, Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six Premier League encounters with Man United and have not conceded a goal to the Red Devils since September 2019, but there ought to be a new wave of optimism around Old Trafford as Arteta's youthful prospects prepare for a true test of their mettle.


Team News


Man United centre-back Harry Maguire returns from suspension in time to face the Gunners and is sure to slot straight back into the defence, in spite of his shaky performances this term, with Eric Bailly perhaps being unfairly dropped.


Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani and Raphael Varane make up a trio of absentees for the hosts, who are still sweating over the fitness of Luke Shaw due to a head injury.


Ronaldo surely cannot fathom being benched for such a crucial game again and could take the place of Marcus Rashford in the first XI, that is if the United boss sticks with the midfield-heavy 4-3-1-2 formation.


As for the Gunners, Saka went down holding his groin in the Newcastle win, and Arteta subsequently confirmed that the 20-year-old - who placed sixth in this year's Kopa Trophy - did feel a muscular problem.


Saka has not been ruled out of this game just yet, but the door has opened for Martinelli to earn a deserved start, and Arteta's only two confirmed absentees at this time are long-term victims Sead Kolasinac (ankle) and Granit Xhaka (knee).


Alexandre Lacazette's run in the starting lineup came to an end on Saturday as Martin Odegaard returned to the first XI, and it is difficult to see the Norwegian losing his place here.


Manchester United possible starting lineup:

De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Telles; Matic, Fred, McTominay; Fernandes; Sancho, Ronaldo


Arsenal possible starting lineup:

Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Partey, Lokonga; Martinelli, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang

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