Manchester United vs Arsenal Preview | Team News, Key Men and Stats

Manchester United vs Arsenal Preview | Team News, Key Men and Stats

In what will be the last big game this season, Manchester United host Arsenal with an automatic Champions League place still on the line. The two teams are some way off the high standards they set themselves over the last decade when they competed for titles and cups, but this represents a chance to finish the season on a high and then start building for next season.

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Arsenal are two points ahead of Sunday’s opponents with a game in hand, and even a draw should see them secure the 3rd spot as United will only have one game left after this. If they hadn’t stumbled in the beginning of the season, the trip to Old Trafford could have had a much greater significance.

The Gunners however lost their first league match since February against Swansea last weekend falling to a late Bafetimbi Gomis header while United all but sealed the final spot for Europe’s elite competition after winning at Selhurst Park 2-1 that arrested a slide of three consecutive losses.

They now have the opportunity to mathematically confirm their return to the Champions League after a gap of one year with Liverpool 6 points behind them with a goal difference of 14.

In the reverse fixture, United snatched a 2-1 win at the Emirates though the Gunners extracted revenge by winning with the same scoreline in the FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford.

Team News

Manchester United:

Luke Shaw and Wayne Rooney suffered knocks at Selhurst Park but Van Gaal has confirmed that the pair should be fit for Sunday’s big match. Michael Carrick and Rafael have been ruled out for the rest of the season while Rojo is a doubt along with Angel di Maria who picked up a knock in training before the trip to South London.

Robin van Persie should have recovered from his illness though it remains to be seen whether he will start against his former club.

Arsenal:

Danny Welbeck and Mathieu Debuchy will miss out with knee and hamstring injuries respectively along with the duo of Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have returned to training but lacking in match fitness.

Probable Line-Ups

Arsenal: Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis; Giroud

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw; Blind, Herrera, Fellaini, Mata, Young; Rooney

Last Five Meetings

09 Mar 2015 Man. Utd. 1 – 2 Arsenal F.A. Cup
22 Nov 2014 Arsenal 1 – 2 Man. Utd. Premier League
12 Feb 2014 Arsenal 0 – 0 Man. Utd. Premier League
10 Nov 2013 Man. Utd. 1 – 0 Arsenal Premier League
28 Apr 2013 Arsenal 1 – 1 Man. Utd. Premier League

Interesting Stats

  • The two sides haven’t been separated by more than 1 goal in their previous 7 meetings, with Arsenal winning once and United 4.
  • Manchester United average the highest possession percentage in the Premier League with 61.2% along with the best pass percentage- 85.4%
  • Arsenal average the highest interceptions per game in the Premier League – 20.3 as well as the most dribbles – 15.8.
  • Alexis Sanchez is two goals behind Thierry Henry’s total of 26 in his debut season back in 1999-2000 having arrived from Juventus.
  • Arsenal on a run of five away wins in a row in the Premier League.

Key Men

Manchester United: David de Gea

David de Gea has emerged as one of the elite goalkeepers in the league over the past couple of seasons and it is undoubtedly down to his heroics that United are in a position to guarantee Champions League football.

Having made the most defensive errors in the league this season, United have been lucky to concede just 3 goals from them, and the man beneath the sticks has pulled off some remarkable saves ensuring his side earned some vital points despite not playing well at times. Consider last week when Glenn Murray thought he had given Palace the lead, but there was De Gea in his way pulling a ridiculous save.

The 24-year-old was named PFA Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time in his career this season and there is going to be a serious transfer battle in the summer involving Real Madrid. He has made more saves this season (92) than any other goalkeeper in the top 5 and has the league highest distribution accuracy of 69%.

Against Arsenal and their potent strike force, De Gea will once again be up against a tough challenge. But as the Spaniard has shown over the course of the season, one would expect him to leave the strikers scratching their heads by the end of the game.

Arsenal: Alexis Sanchez

A debut inclusion in the Premier League Team of the Year was well deserved for the Chilean who is just two goals short of Thierry Henry’s first-season total in north London. A brace against Hull a couple of weeks back took his tally in the league to 16, and he also has 8 assists to boot.

His averages of 3.4 shots, 2.3 key passes and 3.5 dribbles per game make him Arsenal’s primary threat week in week out in his extraordinary first season having signed from Barcelona.

He has been played in a variety of attacking positions and he has thrived in each one of them. With Giroud hitting form recently, Arsenal looked unstoppable with the duo delivering most of their goals. There are murmurs of him no performing in big games and this a chance for him to close in on Henry’s record and silence those critics.

Prediction:

Matches between these two giants in recent times have been entertaining, hard fought battles with not much separating them. Expect the same theme to play out on Sunday as they contest a score draw.