WILL DYER (@w2dyer) previews the big Sunday clash between Arsenal and Manchester United. Who will reign supreme in the race for the top four?
Arsenal v Manchester United | Sunday 16:00 | Sky Sports 1
Rivalries are renewed on Sunday afternoon as Manchester United make the trip to Emirates stadium. Jose Mourinho’s undefeated record against Arsene Wenger in the Premier League still intact, the Portuguese will be hoping he can extend his run to 13 games unbeaten against his French counterpart.
Worse still, the Gunners have scored just five goals in 12 previous Premier League meetings with Mourinho. Combine him with Man United’s record against Arsenal in the Premier League era, W22-D15-L10, and it makes for an intimidating partnership for fans of the North London club.
Specialist in Failure
The most recent clash did at least have a happy conclusion for Wenger; a late Olivier Giroud goal saw Arsenal steal a point at Old Trafford in November but, in truth, the visitors were lifeless and the goal was their only shot on target in 90 minutes.
United are coming into the game off the back of a strong performance in Vigo, winning the first leg of their Europa League semi-final 1-0 on Thursday night.
Arsenal however, will be feeling thoroughly dispirited after losing 2-0 at White Hart Lane, a result which confirmed they will finish below Spurs for the first time since 1995 and put them 17 points adrift of their fierce rivals.
All week Mourinho has been spouting about the weakness of his squad and stating he’ll field a second string side at the Emirates as he feels the Red Devils best chance of Champions League football next season is qualification by winning the Europa League.
It’s all mind games as usual, take one look at the bench he had at Celta Vigo; Wayne Rooney, David de Gea, Chris Smalling, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Michael Carrick. That’s world-class talent and it’s likely that many of them will feature on Sunday.
Of course for Arsenal, the league is their only chance of Champions League qualification. I don’t for a minute believe that Wenger will get a free shot at beating his old foes here though. Manchester United have been defending on another level lately and, even without Marcus Rojo, I fancy them to stifle the Gunners.
Bore Draw distinct possibility
The Red Devils have conceded four goals less than table toppers Chelsea, just 25 in 34 games. In their 2-0 win over the champions elect last month they didn’t even allow the Blues a shot on target. For that reason, I can’t get over how Arsenal can be odds-on to beat them.
United have lost just three league games all season and so Even money on them avoiding defeat with the +0.5 Asian Handicap at 188Bet seems a ludicrous price.
I’m only too happy to back Mourinho to do a job over his arch enemy again, just as he has at Manchester City and Liverpool this season and in case they bore the lives out of us with an exact replica of those away trips again, I’ll back 0-0 at 11/1 with Skybet.