Unai Emery deserves a lot of credit for what he has done at the Emirates in his first season in charge. The Gunners were slated after their season opening losses to Manchester City and Chelsea however since then a 20-match unbeaten run that has seen them become part of the title winning conversation. United on the other hand are now 16-points adrift of top of the table City, which could have been more if they didn’t fight back from 2-0 down against struggling Southampton to get the draw. Form Labs return with their betting preview, tips and enhanced odds for this all-important clash for Jose Mourinho’s team. If you are looking for some additional value, then you have to check out our traders selection of enhanced odds for the midweek premier League games.
We’re surprised to see Arsenal at the bigger price following the weekend’s action. The Gunners appeared to reassert their status as top dogs in North London with a 4-2 victory over Spurs, while United laboured to a 2-2 draw versus a poor Southampton team that have sacked their manager in the aftermath. These are two clubs seemingly travelling in different directions, with the Gunners now just one game away from extending their unbeaten streak to 20 matches.
They’ve long been excellent at maintaining consistency against the weaker outfits, but the derby win for Arsenal was immensely important in rebuilding the mental aspect of this squad after already securing a draw with Liverpool at the beginning of November. Their problems against other ‘Big Six’ teams were well documented under Arsene Wenger, but they seem to have turned the corner under Unai Emery in that regard.
Ozil Out Of Favour
Despite being one of Emery’s rotating captains at Arsenal, Mesut Ozil has found himself on the outside looking in recently, while Aaron Ramsey’s star has been in the ascendancy. The Germans reputation for going missing in the big games and his brittle lack of physicality saw him remain seated on the bench for the entire 90 minutes against Bournemouth, before a back spasm ruled him out of the derby completely.
Given Jose Mourinho can pack his team with tall and strong players, and is familiar with Ozil’s weaknesses having coached him at Real Madrid, Emery is unlikely to turn back to the German with the Gunners overcoming their recent habit of drawing games in his absence.
United Less Impressive At Home
While United haven’t exactly excelled on the road this term as they’ve gone W5-D2-L3 across all competitions, they possess even fewer victories at Old Trafford (W4-D4-L2) and actually lost on penalties to Championship side Derby after one of those stalemates. Even when facing the better teams, they’ve secured their best results on their travels. Indeed, they performed a smash and grab raid away at Juve and drew 2-2 at Stamford Bridge, though they were thoroughly outclassed in their other big away game so far at the Etihad. At Old Trafford however, they’ve been pummelled 3-0 by Spurs and beaten when Juve came to town in their biggest home ties to date.
United have actually failed to get on the scoresheet in four of their last nine on home turf in all competitions, only netting two or more on three occasions, and so it’s difficult to imagine them out-scoring the Gunners. Emery’s charges have fired home an average of 2.6 goals per game from their nine away matches this term, and even excluding their comparatively easy assignments in the Europa League where they’ve rotated, this actually rises to 2.7 gpg.
United’s Injury Crisis
That spells trouble for the Red Devils, especially with a growing injury crisis. The term is often overblown when the bigger squads usually have enough flexibility and cover to cope, but Mourinho was forced into using a centre-back trio of Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic alongside Phil Jones against Southampton. The latter now joins fellow centre-backs Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly as doubts ahead of this game, as well as full-backs Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian, while Ashley Young is suspended.
Victor Lindelof had been providing hope that Mourinho possessed at least one centre-back up to scratch, but he is definitely out too, meaning that it’s anyone’s guess as to who lines up at the back for this encounter – and those who do start probably won’t be fully fit. Compare that to Arsenals’ only significant player in Granit Xhaka being unavailable, then Unai Emery can count himself lucky with Matteo Guendouzi a more than capable replacement.
Manchester United v Arsenal Betting Tips
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike against Spurs places him at the head of the race for the Golden Boot with 10 goals to his name, and though he leads the betting in the goalscoring markets he looks a great price to continue his current run. The Gabon international has eight goals and two assists in his last seven league appearances, and with Jones the most likely centre-back to start, who really fancies the Englishman in a foot race? Arsenal may have last triumphed at Old Trafford back in 2006, but this is as good an opportunity as they’ll have to amend that.
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