This weekend's Premier League highlight sees Manchester United travel to Arsenal on Saturday evening. Mark O'Haire previews the enticing tussle from The Emirates...
"10 of the 15 match-ups between the traditional Premier League elite have featured Under 2.5 Goals"
Arsenal v Manchester United
Saturday January 30, 17:30
Arsenal impress at St Mary's
Arsenal's resurgence continued this midweek as the Gunners earned a 3-1 success at injury-hit Southampton to move to within five points of the Premier League's top-four. The Gunners made light of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's absence by coming from behind to in an eventful game with Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette all on-target.
Lacazette had missed a glorious chance to give Arsenal a first-minute lead, before Southampton broke the deadlock at St Mary's. But the lead lasted just five minutes, as Pepe equalised with a neat finish and Saka put the Gunners ahead before half-time. The 19-year-old then turned provider to pick out Lacazette and seal top honours with 20 minutes to play.
Mikel Arteta will hope to have Aubameyang back in the fold for Saturday's trip to Old Trafford, while new loan signing Martin Odegaard could also be involved after the attacking midfielder arrived from Real Madrid. Kieran Tierney and Dani Ceballos are also available but Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe will be assessed after picking up niggles at St Mary's.
Man Utd shocked by Sheff Utd
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said there will be "no big inquest" despite a shock 2-1 home defeat by rock-bottom Sheffield United on Wednesday. The Red Devils would have regained top spot in the Premier League with victory at Old Trafford but produced a lacklustre performance to see their 12-game unbeaten streak come to a close.
The Blades took a surprise first-half lead through Kean Bryan's flicked header from a corner. Anthony Martial then had a goal ruled out as Harry Maguire was adjudged to have fouled Aaron Ramsdale, but the United skipper headed in the leveller just past the hour mark. However, the visitors responded with a decisive second strike with 16 minutes remaining.
Speaking post-match, Solskjaer said: "It wasn't to be. The second goal we conceded is so poor, so sloppy. Easy. We stopped getting out to the ball - three or four bad decisions which is out of character. There will be no big inquest. There have been so many odd results this season but with the world as it is we have been the most consistent team - it hit us today."
Arsenal are unbeaten in each of their past five Premier League meetings with Man Utd (W3-D2-L0) - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's penalty settled a drab encounter in November when the two teams met at Old Trafford in the reverse contest. The Gunners have earned top honours in four of their last five league ties when welcoming the Red Devils to The Emirates.
There are signs to suggest that Arsenal 2.942/1 are again heading in the right direction. Mikel Arteta's men have collected 16 points from the past 18 on offer in the Premier League, while only Man City have won more points (18) and conceded fewer goals (one) than the Gunners since Boxing Day. However, a soft schedule also has to be taken into account.
Manchester United 2.568/5 surrendered top spot with a meek midweek display, although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side have tended to produce their best work on the road. The Red Devils remain unbeaten on their Premier League travels in over a year and have posted a superb W8-D2-L0 in games as guests this term, notching twice or more in eight of 10 away days.
Matches between Big Six rivals have often failed to fire in 2020/21. Indeed, 10 of the 15 match-ups between the traditional Premier League elite have featured Under 2.5 Goals 2.1011/10 with four of those fixtures concluding goalless. Collectively, 6/9 (67%) of such games involving Arsenal and Man Utd have also produced a maximum of two goals this term.
Pragmatism could again be the name of the game when the Gunners entertain United on Saturday - each of the previous four contests between the pair have seen Unders backers collect and both teams have displayed an ability to contain and counter during the current campaign, potentially leading us towards the duo cancelling each other out.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 87.00 pts
Returned: 88.78 pts
P/L: +1.78 pts