Arsenal v Manchester United: Miracle of Paris to inspire Ole's men
The race for the top four could take a significant turn at the Emirates, and Kevin Hatchard expects a lively victory for Manchester United...
"United recently won 3-1 at the Emirates, and after their amazing Champions League comeback against PSG, they'll feel ready to take on the world."
Arsenal v Manchester United
Sunday 10 March, 16:30
Live on Sky Sports
Emery's Gunners face test of character
Manchester United's stunning Champions League recovery at PSG won't have escaped the attention of Arsenal manager Unai Emery. It was a PSG collapse on a par with the one he oversaw in Barcelona in 2017, and like joint pain that flares up in winter, Emery will have doubtless remembered the horrors of Catalunya as his team squandered a 4-0 first-leg lead.
The Spanish coach is rehabilitating his reputation this season, taking Arsenal in an exciting direction despite the pressure of following the legendary Arsene Wenger. The target is unquestionably Champions League qualification, and there are still two routes to that goal. The first is through the league, and this fixture against Manchester United could be critical, with the Red Devils just a point ahead of the Gunners in the race for fourth. The backup plan is winning the Europa League, although a clumsy 3-1 first-leg defeat at Rennes on Thursday means Emery will now have to produce a thrilling European comeback of his own next week.
At least Arsenal's home form is encouraging. They have racked up 38 points at the Emirates (Opta tell us only Manchester City have a better record), and they have won their last eight Premier League home matches. However, the red ramparts have been breached by elite sides - they lost at home to United in the FA Cup in late January, went out of the League Cup at home to Spurs and were beaten at home by Manchester City.
Midfield dynamo Lucas Torreira is suspended, so Matteo Guendouzi is likely to partner Granit Xhaka at the base of midfield. Alexandre Lacazette returns after his midweek suspension - he has scored in his last five PL home games.
Solskjaer reinforced by Champions League miracle
Whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gets the Manchester United job on a permanent basis or not, and it seems inconceivable that he won't, he'll always have Paris. United's incredible comeback at PSG in the Champions League, reversing a 2-0 first-leg deficit with a 3-1 win sealed by Marcus Rashford's nerveless last-gasp penalty, will go down as one of the most extraordinary moments in the history of the club and the competition. With a host of big names injured, and Paul Pogba suspended, United found a way to win, just as they so often had under Solskjaer's former boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
This could be a transformative moment for United. Like a cheery football version of Wall-E, Solskjaer had already begun to clear the emotional wreckage of Jose Mourinho's reign, and his charges are starting to believe anything is possible. United have won ten and drawn two of their last 12 Premier League games since Mourinho was ousted, and they have won their last six top-flight matches on the road. Opta tell us the Red Devils haven't won seven Premier League away games on the spin since 1993.
Solskjaer's influence can be seen everywhere. Where there was previously a cloying sense of angst and frustration, there is now belief. Although he was unable to influence matters in his hometown of Paris, Pogba has recently shown why he was such an integral part of France's World Cup win in the summer. He has scored four goals and set up two more in his last seven top-division outings. Romelu Lukaku, often derided for having a first touch like a trampoline, is back to his marauding best in front of goal. It's hard to understand why the Belgian attracts so much criticism - he is a proven goalscorer, he showed with his brace in Paris and at the World Cup (he scored four goals in six games in Russia) that he can perform on the biggest stages, and at the age of 25 he has already gained a vast amount of experience.
Pogba is available and fresh, while his fellow Frenchman Anthony Martial could play a part after recovering from a groin injury. Jesse Lingard, Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata are all still sidelined.
United overpriced to conquer the Emirates again
Given that United have won all of their away games under Solskjaer, including a recent cup win at Arsenal, I'm pleasantly surprised to see them trading at [3.15] to win here. Arsenal are making some important strides under Emery, but the fragility showcased in Rennes is indicative of the work he still has to do. The Gunners are defensively suspect (Shkodran Mustafi is a mistake machine), and they have only kept two clean sheets in their last ten games in all competitions.
Lukaku is in form, Pogba's effectively had a week off, and United will feel they can take on the world after that Champions League comeback. I'll back United Draw No Bet at [2.28].
Despite tension of the occasion, expect goals
There were four goals the last time United visited the Emirates, and five of United's last ten games have featured at least four goals, including the last three.
Arsenal have scored at least twice in seven of their last eight home games, and both teams are far better on the front foot than they are digging in.
I'll go for Over 3.5 Goals at [2.72].
Lacazette and Lukaku worth considering
Alex Lacazette is looking to extend his scoring streak at home to six games, and he is well rested after sitting out the debacle in Rennes. He is [2.36] to score in 90 minutes.
Romelu Lukaku has scored braces in each of his last three matches, and is trading at a hefty [2.7] to find the net here.
You could use the Same Game Multi option on the Sportsbook to back United to win, Over 3.5 Goals and Lukaku to score at combined odds of [10.84].
Kevin Hatchard 2018-19 English Football P/L
Back Manchester United Draw No Bet at [2.28]
Back Over 3.5 Goals at [2.72]
Back Romelu Lukaku to score at [2.7]