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PREVIEW: Arsenal v Man Utd, Team News, Starting XI & Prediction
Arsenal welcome former champions Manchester United to the Emirates this weekend in a huge game for both sides.
The two week international break could actually have come at a good time for us as it gave the players a chance to re-group and clear their heads after a hugely disappointing start to the new season.
Three successive victories over Anderlecht, Sunderland and Burnley looked to have got our season back on track but the wheels came off when we threw away a three-goal lead against Anderlehcht at the Emirates.
We followed up that pitiful display but surrendering a one-goal lead to Swansea last time out when two late goals saw the Welsh side run out 2-1 victors at the Liberty Stadium.
That loss sees us head into tomorrows game in sixth place in the table and 12 points off leaders Chelsea so I think it’s safe to say we’re out of the title race – if there even is one anymore – so another annual fight for the top four beckons.
Beating United would go a long way to regaining some much-needed confidence and it’s been a long time since we’ve beaten one of the old school ‘big boys’, so let’s hope we turn up tomorrow as United are there for the taking.
They have just as many injury problems as we do, and like us they are particularly low on options at the back, so I hope the players really have a go and test their defence as we can certainly get a few goals if we do.
Olivier Giroud is back in contention after making a speedy recovery from his fractured tibia. Although he’s still lacking in match fitness so I’d expect to see him on the bench.
Danny Welbeck is expected to pass a late fitness test on a hamstring injury while Alexis Sanchez should also start despite only arriving back in North London on Thursday afternoon from international duty.
Arsene Wenger said Theo Walcott was a major doubt due to a minor groin complaint but as I brought you earlier, the attacker took part in training this afternoon so perhaps he’s in contention after-all.
Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina and Mesut Ozil are all still out, but Mikel Arteta is back in the squad.
Preferred starting XI
Here’s how I’d line-up:
I’m not a fan of Monreal at centre-back so I’d go with Chambers in the middle and Bellerin at right-back. I’d even be happy to see Flamini on the right if it meant keeping Monreal from playing alongside Per.
Jack has proven he can play in a deeper role and I’d love to see him given the chance in that position at Arsenal. Arteta is not a natural in the holding role either and Jack offers much more than the Spaniard.
However, in reality, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arsene stick with Monreal at CB and Chambers at RB, with Flamini or Arteta in midfield alongside either Ramsey or Wilshere.
Many are predicting Arsenal to win this game given the state of United’s back-four but people are conveniently forgetting we have been equally as bad at the back lately and they have a dangerous attack with the likes of Di Maria, RVP and Rooney who will certainly cause us problems.
If the players can get over this mental block they seem to have in big games, I fancy us to edge it 2-1, but if they freeze as they’ve done many times before, then I’d back a 1-1 draw.