Man Utd v Arsenal – Preview, Predictions and Best Bets
1 December 2021
Man Utd host Arsenal at Old Trafford in the English Premier League on Thursday evening. New interim coach Ralf Rangnick will not be in the dugout for this one due to work permit delays so Michael Carrick will be in caretaker charge. Arsenal are just seven points off the top of the league after a fine run of form and have kept three consecutive clean sheets against the Red Devils.
Man Utd Form
Since taking the reins, Carrick has overseen a 2-0 win away in Villarreal after two late goals, as well as a 1-1, draw away at Chelsea. Those fine results don’t tell the full story as they were outshot 12-4 in the opening 66 minutes in Spain. At Chelsea, they were outshot 22-2 in the first 87 minutes with just 34% possession.
Those results came on the back of 19 goals conceded in seven matches with a run of seven losses in 13 to spell the end for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The 5-0 home loss to Liverpool and the 4-1 defeat at Watford were the side hitting rock-bottom.
Man Utd Team News
Man Utd have Harry Maguire available again and he will surely start. Neither Eric Bailly nor Victor Lindelof will feel they deserve to be dropped though. Luke Shaw could return to contention after a concussion to start at left-back. Raphael Varane remains out injured.
In midfield, Nemanja Matic could drop out to allow Bruno Fernandes to return to the number ten role. Cristiano Ronaldo looks certain to be recalled upfront after a substitute outing at Stamford Bridge. Mason Greenwood is also pushing for involvement whilst Jadon Sancho will definitely keep his place after scoring in his last two. Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani remain out injured.
Man Utd Motivation
Having sat back at Villarreal and parking the bus at Chelsea, Man Utd’s approach for this home match will be interesting. Carrick will see Arsenal as a team his side can beat so a more adventurous approach is expected.
A win would be ideal but Carrick may be satisfied to avoid defeat again before handing over to Ralf Rangnick.
Arsenal have closed the gap to Chelsea to just seven points after a run of seven wins and two draws in their last ten matches. Six of those have seen clean sheets. After consecutive draws, the Gunners won three in a row as they beat Aston Villa 3-1 and then won 2-0 at Leicester. A 1-0 victory against Watford preceded a 4-0 thrashing at Liverpool.
Arsenal bounced back to beat Newcastle 2-0 in their last match as Bukayo Saka and substitute Gabriel Martinelli scored the goals. It was a very well deserved win with 2.6 xG to just 0.2 xG allowed for Newcastle.
Arsenal Team News
Arsenal have three injuries to deal with for this match. Sead Kolasinac is out but wouldn’t have played anyway. Granit Xhaka is still out long-term so Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga will line up in midfield.
The big doubt is over Bukayo Saka who went off injured in the Newcastle win. Should he fail to recover, then Gabriel Martinelli will hope to get the nod down the flank. Another option is for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to move wide with Alexandre Lacazette leading the line. Nicolas Pepe could also play but he has been out of favour of late.
Arsenal will look to play on the front foot. They use a similar style to Villarreal and Chelsea and could dominate possession in this match.
They will play to win but a draw is not a bad result at all and one they could settle for in the second half.
Man Utd have lost 7 of their last 15 matches
Man Utd have failed to score in their last 3 matches against Arsenal (all comps)
Arsenal have lost 1 of their last 10 PL matches (W7, D2)
Arsenal have kept 6 clean sheets in their last 10 away PL matches
Aubameyang has scored in his last two away PL matches at Man Utd
This is a very difficult match to predict without knowing how Carrick will approach. His team selection should give a clue and it may be worth waiting to see his starting XI. A draw may be the best value.