The Big Match Tactical View: Man Utd v Arsenal

Alex Lacazette
Alexandre Lacazette could return to Arsenal's starting XI
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Arsenal produced their best performance under Unai Emery in a win over Tottenham on Sunday - can they follow it up with another win here? Michael Cox and Alan Thompson provide the preview...

"Aaron Ramsey and Alex Lacazette both made positive impressions from the bench on Sunday, and will be challenging for a starting place here."

Manchester United v Arsenal
Wednesday 20:00, BT Sport 1.
Match Odds: Man Utd [2.5], Arsenal [3.1], The Draw [3.6].

Arsenal travel to Old Trafford in fine spirits after Sunday's hugely entertaining 4-2 victory over Tottenham, but Manchester United start this game as favourites despite their recent mediocre form.

Injury problems for Mourinho

United managed a 2-2 draw at Southampton on Saturday evening, but their overall performance was hugely disappointing, and they found themselves 2-0 down after a dreadful start. Only the efforts of Marcus Rashford, who collected two assists, got them back into the game and Jose Mourinho may consider making changes here.

Mourinho used a 3-5-2 formation for the trip to St Mary's, which featured Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay on either side of the three-man defence, because of some major injury problems. Those issues are unlikely to have been solved ahead of this game.

We know that Alexis Sanchez, Victor Lindelhof and Ashley Young are definitely out - the latter suspended. Considered doubtful, meanwhile, are Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford. That leaves Mourinho without almost his entire defence, and his strikeforce from the weekend.

Who knows what United's side will be here. Matic and McTominay could be used in defence again and Diogo Dalot could be drafted in at full-back, but United's team selection will depend entirely on fitness concerns.

Pogba to drop out?

There are also question marks in midfield after Paul Pogba's dreadful showing at the weekend. Matic will start if not needed in defence, with Marouane Fellaini - last season's hero in this fixture - likely to feature too. Ander Herrera scored United's equaliser on Saturday and will probably keep his place in a three-man midfield, whether it's 4-3-3 or 3-5-2.

Going forward, Anthony Martial is likely to come into the side because of injury problems, with Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata possibilities to play on the right if not required in midfield. One of Rashford and Lukaku will presumably be fit enough to play upfront.

Ramsey and Lacazette could start

Arsenal boss Unai Emery also has question marks across his side, although mainly for more positive reasons - Aaron Ramsey and Alex Lacazette both made positive impressions from the bench on Sunday, and will be challenging for a starting place here.

However, there is a problem in defence because of Shkodran Mustafi limping off against Spurs. If he doesn't recover, Arsenal are struggling for players to use in defence. Stephan Lichtsteiner could probably do a job there, but it's not a perfect solution. Laurent Koscielny, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Nacho Monreal are all still out. This issue could force Emery into reshuffling his pack and using a back four, which Arsenal switched to for the final 15 minutes against Spurs with few problems.

Further forward, Granit Xhaka is suspended which could see Mateo Guendouzi coming into the centre of midfield. Ramsey is another option, although he's generally been used in a more advanced position and therefore could feature as an attacking midfielder in a 3-4-2-1 system. Henrikh Mkhitaryan may drop out after two poor games on his return to Old Trafford, while Mesut Ozil's apparent back injury isn't likely to clear up.

Lacazette could start after impressing as a second half substitute, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is leading the line well. But then, Emery could start with the 3-4-1-2 system he switched to at half-time on Sunday which would allow him to deploy two strikers in tandem.

Plenty of question marks about selection, then, but Arsenal seem to have more options than United. One day less rest might be a problem, but I'm surprised Arsenal's side are such outsiders. I'll back them at [3.3].

The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson

The Gunners don’t have the best of records at Old Trafford, you have to go back to 2006 to find their last league win at the venue and the Red Devils are unbeaten in the last 11 Premier League meetings between the sides. However, Unai Emery’s men are in excellent form and extended their unbeaten run to 12 league games at the weekend and find themselves in that coveted fourth position, eight points ahead of their rivals.

Top four is obviously the target for both these sides and defeat tonight for the home team would leave them at least nine points away from that objective. United have certainly struggled at Old Trafford this season, but I am sure the arrival of fourth placed Arsenal will spark a better performance from them. Despite that I would still find it hard to back them at the currently quoted [2.5] match odds price.

Both sides have shown their battling qualities this season, displaying them as recently as last week, Arsenal coming from 2-1 down to beat Spurs and United coming from behind again, this time at Southampton to get a share of the points.

I think a share of the points could be on the cards here again but equally I don’t see a 0-0 encounter. So rather than just backing the Draw in the Match Odds market at [3.6] I will take on the goalless game and a ridiculously high scoring draw by dutch backing 1-1 at [8.0] and 2-2 [13.0] in the correct score market to get an inflated draw price of approximately [5.0].

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