Manchester United v Arsenal conjures up many Premier League memories. We take a look a what to expect from Sunday’s clash between the two fallen giants.
Manchester United v Arsenal
Sunday November 1
Kick-off 1630 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event
Man Utd v Arsenal: Head to head
Football creates memories and this fixture has certainly delivered on that front down the years.
Arsenal fans will never forget Marc Overmars’ goal which turned the 1997/98 title race, nor Sylvain Wiltord’s title clincher four years later.
Old Trafford was also the scene of Ruud van Nistelrooy’s penalty miss of 2003, without which the Invincibles would never have been, and the following Martin Keown celebration which bordered on assault.
Thirteen months later, United took their revenge by ending Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run, a match which ended with the furore of Pizzagate.
That period of Alex Ferguson v Arsene Wenger battles was a special era and in many ways it is sad to see the relative demise of the two clubs.
This year’s Manchester Untied v Arsenal clash will pit the team sitting 15th against the one in 11th. Between them, the pair once won nine titles in a row but it’s hard to believe either side will be contending for top honours in 2021.
It’s been that way for some time though and a look at the head-to-head record shows that although Arsenal are unbeaten in their last four matches against United, they haven’t won in the league at Old Trafford since September 2006. Indeed, that is their only win here since Wiltord’s 2002 title winner.
United have won eight of the 13 contests since Emmanuel Adebayor earned the Gunners a 1-0 victory 14 years ago.
However, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have failed to win at home so far this season – the first time since 1972/73 that they haven’t won any of their first three home league matches.
Recent history suggests there should at least be a few goals, although maybe not as many as in August 2011 when United won 8-2. Ah, another memory.
Both teams have managed to score in 10 of the last 14 meetings between these two, with Arsenal netting in the last 12. At Old Trafford, both teams have scored in eight of the last nine, while United have found the net in the last 12.
So far this season, United have struggled defensively with their concession rate of 2.4 goals per game being the worst in the league. Four of the 12 goals conceded have come in the opening 15 minutes of games.
That will give Arsenal hope of ending that win drought at Old Trafford, especially given they’ve conceded just seven times in six games themselves. Only Aston Villa have a better defensive record.
Despite that fact, four of Arsenal’s six games thus far have seen over 2.5 goals. For United, it’s four out of five.
One worrying statistic for the visitors is that they have yet to equalise this season when they’ve fallen behind. United, on the other hand, have already won six points from games in which they’ve trailed.
Player focus: Aubameyang a thorn in United’s side
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only scored one league goal so far this season but his record against United is encouraging. He’s scored in three of his last four appearances against the Red Devils, including at Old Trafford last season.
Alexandre Lacazette is the Gunners’ top scorer with three goals and notably all three have been the first of the game. He’s regularly subbed off so if he does score, it’s usually relatively early.
Bruno Fernandes tops the United scoring charts with three league goals so far and four in all competitions. Those four have come in his last five starts with three of them arriving via the penalty spot.
It’s worth reminding people that United have been awarded more penalties in the Premier League since the start of last season (17) than any other side.
The referee is Mike Dean and while he has only awarded one penalty in his four games this season, no referee gave more, on average, than him last season (0.41 per game).
As tasty as Pizzagate?
Mention of Pizzagate and Van Nistelrooy-Keown, remind us how tasty these encounters used to be. There was also the Roy Keane v Patrick Vieira incident in the tunnel at Highbury during the same period.
At one stage, former Premier League referee Jeff Winter describe United v Arsenal as “impossible” to handle.
More recently, it’s been an easier fixture for the referee. A game that once guaranteed cards has seen under 2.5 of them in three of the last seven meetings (all venues).
Stretching things out over the last 15 games between the sides, there have been at least four cards (or 40+ booking points) in nine of the matches.
The appointment of Mike Dean usually sees the card count rise – he averaged more cards per game than any other top-flight official in 2017/18 and 2018/19, while only Stuart Attwell produced more than him last season.
When taking charge of these two sides, Dean has shown at least seven cards in three of the last five meetings, although this is his first appointment in the fixture since 2015.
There may be no-one of the Keane/Vieira ilk on show in this year’s fixture, but Granit Xhaka is something of an enforcer who has left his mark on Old Trafford.
He’s played four times here and been booked on every occasion.
Overall, the Swiss has been carded in five of his 10 games against United, a stat which includes his games for Basel.
This season, Xhaka has only one card so far – team-mate Hector Bellerin is leading the way with three in six games and may well be up against Marcus Rashford on the Arsenal right here.
On the United side, left-back Luke Shaw has two cards in five matches, including the last two at Old Trafford (v Spurs and Chelsea).
That continues his trend for cards – the England international has now received one in 20 of his last 58 league appearances.
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