Manchester United against Arsenal was once the primetime attraction of the Premier League season but there is rather less on the line when they meet at Old Trafford tonight (8pm Wednesday, live on BT Sport).
Arsenal have suffered a gradual slide down the table since their last league title triumph back in 2004. Man Utd, winners of 13 of the first 21 Premier League titles, have gone five seasons since their last success.
Neither side has a realistic chance of ending their title drought this time around given the strong pace set by reigning champions and the bookies’ raging Premier League favourites Manchester City. Arsenal are eight points back in fourth, while United are a further eight points off the top in seventh.
Man Utd did, of course, finish second last season but that hasn’t proved to be the prelude to a more concerted title push. Instead, they have gone backwards. Not only have they already lost four times, just three less than in the entirety of last season, but their goal difference stands at negative one.
Jose Mourinho has remained his ever-defiant self in the face of criticism of his side’s results and performances. Progress in the Champions League has partially dampened those complaints. However, in truth, it is difficult to see him remaining at the club beyond the end of the season or even until then, if improvements aren’t swiftly visible.
United come into today’s game on a three-match winless streak in league action that continued with a 2-2 draw away to Southampton on Saturday. They found themselves two down inside 20 minutes but were able to claw level prior to half time thanks to goals from Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera, both assisted by Marcus Rashford. There was much less incident after the break.
It was a match that displayed the balance problems Mourinho has struggled to right this season. United can be a potent attacking force, but when they are, it comes at the expense of defensive stability, and vice versa. Significant spending in his three-year tenure has not produced an adequate solution. In this state, even challenging for a top-four finish will prove difficult.
Arsenal are better placed to do that following a good start to the reign of new head coach Unai Emery. He took on the perhaps unenviable task of replacing the long-serving Arsene Wenger but has produced results good enough to build up credit with players and supporters alike.
That was strengthened by Arsenal’s 4-2 win at home to Tottenham Hotspur in Sunday’s North London derby. Arsenal somehow went in behind at the interval after two quick-fire Spurs goals overturned Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s opener. They made their superiority count after the break, as goals from Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Toreira saw them to victory.
Emery’s side are now undefeated in 19 matches in all competitions following their back-to back defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea on the first two weekends of the season. They are solidly placed in the league and already through to the knockout rounds in the Europa League.
Arsenal’s underlying statistics haven’t been quite as impressive as their results but the convincing manner of Sunday’s victory showed they shouldn’t be underestimated. It can be easy to conflate good fortune with other intangibles such as hunger or passion but there does genuinely seem to be a more determined edge to this team than there was under Wenger last season.
Indeed, it will be interesting to see if that carries over to a fixture that certainly hasn’t been a favourite for the club in recent times.
Man Utd won home and away to Arsenal last season and it is necessary to go all the way back to 2006 to find the last time Arsenal recorded victory at Old Trafford. However, while the Gunners are still far from perfect, United’s regression in comparison to last season means they actually have a better chance than normal of picking up a positive result.
Backing an Arsenal win with the safety net provided by the “draw no bet” market looks a solid play for this midweek fixture.
Our Preview’s Man Utd vs Arsenal Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Arsenal to win on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ best odds of 11/10 with Betfred. If you prefer to bet without the safety net of ‘draw no bet’, then see the match odds below.
Compare Man Utd vs Arsenal Betting Odds