English Premier League

Manchester United v Arsenal: Oppose goals at Old Trafford

Michael Carrick - Man Utd
Michael Carrick is preparing the Manchester United team for Thursday

"Exclude Man Utd’s opening two Premier League outings against Leeds and Newcastle, and the Red Devils have scored just 12 goals in 11 top-flight fixtures this term"

Arsenal head north to take on Manchester United on Thursday with the market expecting goals - but Mark O'Haire is backing a low scoring encounter at Old Trafford. Here's why...

United pinch a point at Stamford Bridge

Manchester United prepared for the arrival of interim manager Ralf Rangnick by earning a battling point against Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The Red Devils, under the caretaker charge of Michael Carrick, produced a pragmatic performance until Jadon Sancho hit the Blues on the break five minutes after half-time.

Sancho pounced on poor control from Jorginho to race clear and beat Edouard Mendy with a composed finish after the hosts had dominated possession. The goal seemed to spring Chelsea into action and the hosts equalised from the spot in the 69th minute after Aaron Wan-Bissaka fouled Thiago Silva. But United survived thereafter in relative comfort despite losing the shot count 24-3.

Carrick made a couple of big selection calls, bolstering the midfield by utilising Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic, whilst leaving Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench until the 64th minute. All eyes will again be on the team sheet with Rangnick's involvement in the fixture centring around whether the German will receive his work permit in time to contribute.

Arsenal bounce back

Arsenal bounced back to winning ways by brushing rock-bottom Newcastle aside 2-0 at The Emirates on Saturday. It took the Gunners until 10 minutes after half-time to make a breakthrough with the visitors setting up to try and contain Mikel Arteta's team, but Bukayo Saka slotted home from Nuno Tavares' through ball to give the home side the opener.

Saka went off injured soon after, although his replacement Gabriel Martinelli scored with his second touch, a wonderful volley from Takehiro Tomiyasu's clipped pass over the top to confirm the points for Arsenal. The Gunners could and should have won by a greater margin with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's glaring miss the pick of their 24 attempts at goal.

Arteta was happy with his players' response to last weekend's Liverpool defeat. He said, "I am happy with the points after losing last weekend. Overall, I'm very pleased. The word was we had to be 'patient'. We had to play with urgency and rhythm. That's what we did in the second half. We found spaces and that's how we scored the goals."

Difficult to trust either side

Manchester United are winless in their last six Premier League meetings with Arsenal - the Red Devils have never gone seven league games without a success over the Gunners before. The visitors are looking for back-to-back Old Trafford victories for the first time since 1979, and have also managed to silence United in each of their last three head-to-heads.

Man Utd 2.0811/10 have responded reasonably well to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's sacking. However, the hosts have now picked up just five points in their past eight Premier League outings (W1-D2-L5), their fewest over an eight-game spell in Premier League history. The Red Devils' only home league triumphs this term have come against bottom-six opposition.

Arsenal 3.8514/5 have posted W7-D2-L1 across their last 10 Premier League tussles yet Mikel Arteta's troops have produced their best work at home. The Gunners have scored just three goals in six away encounters, creating the fewest away Big Chances in the division and failing to even score in four (W2-D1-L3). That's enough reason to leave the guests alone.

Oppose goals at Old Trafford

The market is anticipating an entertaining encounter at Old Trafford but I'm happy to swim against the tide here and support Under 2.5 Goals at a bulbous 2.166/5. Exclude Man Utd's opening two Premier League outings against the ramshackle defences of Leeds and Newcastle, and the Red Devils have scored just 12 goals in 11 top-flight fixtures this term.

Arsenal have managed just 15 goals across their 13 Premier League dates thus far, and if we exclude the Gunners' trips to Anfield and The Etihad, only three of their remaining 11 contests have produced Over 2.5 Goals 1.824/5. Meanwhile, seven of the past 10 meetings between the two have paid out for Unders backers, including each of the most recent five.

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Mark's 2021/22 Profit/Loss

Staked: 55 pts
Returned: 58.08 pts
P/L: +3.08 pts

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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.