Arsenal and Manchester United will lock horns against each other this weekend in an encounter that will have major repercussions on the top four race.

A crucial encounter with regard to the battle for the UEFA Champions League places will go down at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon as Arsenal get set to host arch-rivals Manchester United.

The top four race is nicely poised at the moment as Tottenham sit fourth with 57 points from 32 matches. Arsenal are level on points with their north London rivals and are fifth in the standings. Manchester United are in sixth place, three points shy of Spurs and Arsenal, having played a game more. West Ham United, too, are in the mix, as they are two points below the Mancunian outfit.

Given how tight things are, Saturday’s game at the Emirates will carry a lot of importance, not just for Arsenal and Manchester United but also for the teams above and below them in the standings. The two teams come into the match on the back of contrasting results as the Gunners beat Chelsea 4-2 away from home, while the Red Devils were thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool on the road.

Arsenal and Manchester United have won just two matches in their last six in all competitions. However, Rangnick’s side did get one over Mikel Arteta’s men in their previous league meeting, securing a 3-2 victory. Ahead of their latest fixture in the Premier League, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics


Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey are the only two confirmed absentees for Arsenal ahead of this mammoth clash. However, question marks linger over Takehiro Tomiyasu’s availability as he closes in on a return to action.

Having started with a three-man backline in the game against Chelsea, Mikel Arteta reverted to a traditional back four during the contest and is expected to stick with that setup when Manchester United come visiting. Aaron Ramsdale is the undisputed starter between the sticks for Arsenal as usual.

Cedric Soares should be reinstated to the starting XI at right-back while Nuno Tavares continues on the left side of the defence in Tierney’s absence. Ben White and Gabriel Magalhaes should occupy the centre-back slots as is the norm.

Moving into the middle of the park, Mohamed Elneny made a solid impression against Chelsea in midweek and should retain his spot alongside Granit Xhaka in the double pivot. The Egyptian international will be tasked with keeping Bruno Fernandes quiet, while Xhaka acts as the conduit between the two halves of the pitch.

Martin Odegaard will be the main creative outlet for Arsenal from the No. 10 role. The Norwegian will look to get on the ball and play defence-splitting passes for Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to chase. Eddie Nketiah should continue to lead the line ahead of Alexandre Lacazette after his brace against Chelsea.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale, Cedric, White, Gabriel, Tavares; Elneny, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Nketiah

Manchester United

Paul Pogba may well have played his last game for Manchester United, with Ralf Rangnick confirming that the midfielder is sidelined for four weeks after picking up an injury against Liverpool. Fred is also unavailable for the Red Devils, while Edinson Cavani and Luke Shaw also miss out.

There is some positive news, though, as Scott McTominay and Raphael Varane are back in training and will be available for selection. Cristiano Ronaldo is also in contention after missing the weekend clash for personal reasons. Like Mikel Arteta, Rangnick also experimented with a three-pronged backline against Liverpool before reverting to the usual four-man defence and should stick with that at the Emirates.

David de Gea should continue to guard the goal for Manchester United. But he will need a lot of help from his defence that has appeared porous all season. It is time for Rangnick to take Harry Maguire out of the firing line, especially with Varane back. Eric Bailly is another player who should get a run-out to prove himself ahead of Victor Lindelof. Diogo Dalot and Alex Telles are likely to be the two full-backs.

McTominay’s return comes as a boost for Manchester United. The Scotsman should line up as one of the two interior midfielders in the 4-3-3, with Nemanja Matic slotting in as the No. 6. The Serb will receive defensive support from McTominay, who will also look to push forward when on the ball. Bruno Fernandes will be the creative outlet for the visiting side.

Ronaldo’s availability means he should walk back into the starting XI in the No. 9 role. Anthony Elanga should continue on the right flank, while Jadon Sancho ought to return on the left after a surprise omission against Liverpool earlier in the week.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Bailly, Telles; Fernandes, Matic, McTominay; Elanga, Ronaldo, Sancho

Key stats

  • Arsenal are undefeated in their last three Premier League home games against Manchester United, winning two and drawing one.
  • Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over Arsenal in December ended a six-game winless streak against the Gunners in the Premier League. The Red Devils can complete their first league double over the north London club since 2018 on Saturday.
  • Arsenal have accumulated 32 points at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League this season. Only Liverpool (42) and Manchester City (38) have won more at home. However, the Gunners have lost three of their seven home league fixtures in 2022.
  • Manchester United have conceded 48 Premier League goals this campaign, their second-highest tally after the 54 they shipped in during the 2018/19 season.
  • Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League games in London (W8, D5), since a 2-0 loss at Arsenal in January 2020.

Player to Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo

It has been a difficult week for Cristiano Ronaldo after the tragic passing of his newborn child. The 37-year-old sat out of the Liverpool game as a result but is back in contention for the game against Arsenal. Since Ronaldo rejoined the club from Juventus last summer, Manchester United have won only one of the seven matches in all competitions when he has not been involved (D3, L3). 

He was the star of the show for Manchester United against Norwich City last weekend, scoring a match-winning hat-trick. The Portuguese maverick is one short of becoming the fourth player to score 100 Premier League goals for the club, after Wayne Rooney (183), Ryan Giggs (109) and Paul Scholes (107). He will back himself to reach that landmark at the Emirates, having netted a brace against Arsenal in the reverse fixture.


Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United

Just a few days ago, Arsenal were struggling to get positive results and looked like dropping out of the race for the top four. But on Wednesday, they bounced back in style, picking up a mighty impressive away win against Chelsea. On the other hand, Manchester United were at the receiving end of a chastening 4-0 defeat away to Liverpool, which has left them hanging by the thread in the top four battle.

The Red Devils’ defence has been all over the place this term, and even if Ralf Rangnick decides to make some personnel changes, Arsenal will back themselves to pierce their defence. At the same time, though, Manchester United have won all of their five league games this season against their closest rivals for the fourth spot in Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham United.

And with Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho returning to the lineup, they could carry some threat in attack, but not enough to grab all three points. The Hard Tackle thus predicts this one to end in a scored draw at the Emirates Stadium.

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