Manchester United need to take all three points at home to Arsenal on Sunday if they hope to pip the Gunners to third place in the table (16:00 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Man Utd ended a three-match losing streak with victory away to Crystal Palace last weekend. They are fourth in the Premier League with 68 points from 20 wins, eight draws and eight defeats.
Louis Van Gaal’s (pictured) side just about emerged victorious from an even encounter at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Juan Mata gave them an early lead from the penalty spot, only for Palace to equalise just before the hour. There were chances at both ends before Marouane Fellaini profited from hesitancy in the Palace defence to nod home the 78th-minute winner.
The three points saw United confirm their place in next season’s Champions League qualifying round and also saw them move back to within two points of Sunday’s opponents. Finishing in the top four was Van Gaal’s goal for the season; with that secured, his side can now switch their attention towards leapfrogging the Gunners into third place.
Van Gaal spent the early part of the season searching for an identity for his side but improved results thereafter, including two six-match winning streaks – from early November through mid-December and from late February to mid-April – have brought the campaign to a satisfactory close. Performances have varied greatly but results have generally been good.
Van Gaal will definitely be without the injured Michael Carrick (calf) and Rafael (rib) for this match, while Angel Di Maria (knock), Luke Shaw (face), Marcos Rojo (abdomen), Robin Van Persie (illness) and Wayne Rooney (leg) are all unlikely to varying degrees.
Arsenal come into the match after suffering their first defeat in 11 league matches on Monday night. They are third in the Premier League table, two points clear of Man Utd with a game in hand, with 70 points from 21 wins, seven draws and seven defeats.
Arsene Wenger’s side fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Swansea on Monday. They dominated possession and the shot count against their defensively aligned visitors but poor finishing saw them spurn the good-quality chances they were able to create. Their frustration was then multiplied when Swansea launched a rare attack to a score an 85th-minute winner.
Wenger’s irritation at the manner of the defeat was clear in his post-match interviews. It was a result that brought to an end the stellar unbeaten run of nine wins and one draw that had seen Arsenal brush off an uneven start to the new year to climb from sixth to third in the table and guarantee themselves a 16th consecutive season of Champions League football.
The Gunners have the FA Cup final against Aston Villa to look forward to at the end of the month, as they look to successfully defend the trophy they won at Wembley last year. With both results and performances taken into account, they have probably been the most impressive side in the Premier League during the final few months of the campaign.
Wenger can not play the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring), Mathieu Debuchy (hamstring) and Mikel Arteta (ankle). Aaron Ramsey (knock) and Danny Welbeck (knee) are both doubtful, although Ramsey is more likely to be involved.
Man Utd v Arsenal Betting Tips
Man Utd were 2-1 winners when these sides met at the Emirates in the league last November but Arsenal triumphed by the same scoreline at Old Trafford in the FA Cup in March. United are undefeated against the Gunners in their last seven league encounters and have won each of the last five on home soil. Arsenal’s last league win at Old Trafford came in 2006.
United have to take all three points on Sunday to keep up the pressure on Arsenal and potentially earn themselves a direct route into the group stage of next season’s Champions League. This is their last home game of the campaign, at a venue at which they have already recorded strong victories over Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.
Arsenal will likely be content to take a draw from this match in order to maintain their two-point advantage over United and move to within two points of securing third place. They have lost four of their six away matches against fellow top eight sides so far this season but with Man Utd coming into the match in questionable form, a point should be within their grasp.
- Back the draw @ best odds of 5/2 with Bet365, Ladbrokes or BetVictor.
- Both of this season’s matches between the sides have seen three goals, while five of the last seven meetings between them in all competitions have seen either two or three. Back two to three goals on the ‘exact total goals’ market @ best odds of 11/10 with BetVictor.