Manchester United host Arsenal at Old Trafford in a battle of two top-four Premier League hopefuls on Monday (8pm live on Sky Sports).
Both sides missed out last season, Arsenal much more closely so than Man Utd, but both are among the teams expected to compete for a place there this time around. They currently rank fourth (Arsenal) and fifth (United) on most bookmakers’ lists for a top-four finish.
United had more ground to make up after finishing down in sixth last season, five points off Tottenham Hotspur in fourth and a full 32 points shy of champions Manchester City. It was the fourth time in six seasons since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in the end of their title-winning 2012-13 campaign that they had finished outside of the top four.
The way they have begun the new season doesn’t necessarily suggest they are likely to improve on last season’s haul of 66 points. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team have taken just eight points from their first six matches of the campaign. If their results during the backend of last season are tacked on, they have lost seven and won just four of their last 15 in the league.
Last weekend, they fell to a 0-2 defeat away to West Ham. Man Utd struggled to penetrate in attack and went down to a couple of well-taken goals, one in each half. It was a flat display, devoid of energy and high on error. It extended their winless run away from home to seven matches.
It would be easy to add all of that together, look at United’s failure to strengthen their midfield over the summer despite spending nearly £150 million elsewhere, and make more of a case for them finishing outside the top six than inside the top four. Their solid underlying numbers provide somewhat of a counterpoint, but it must also be said that those have been achieved across what has been a relatively kind set of opening fixtures.
Manchester United’s hopes of finishing in the top four are, in fact, more likely to rest upon the failures of others than their own strong performance. Chelsea and Tottenham have both also made unconvincing starts to the season. If Man City and Liverpool are viewed a given for the top-two positions, Arsenal have made the best start of any of the established challengers for the final two spots.
Unai Emery’s side still certainly have their own flaws but they have been able to take a solid haul of 11 points from six fixtures that have already included matches against both Liverpool (lost) and local rivals Tottenham (drawn). Their matches were some of the most open in the Premier League last season. That has carried over into the new campaign with an average of 3.50 goals in their fixtures to date. It is unsurprising given that the club’s summer transfer work seemed to be a case of simply doubling down on the attacking focus of a side who were the third-highest scorers last season. They added Nicolas Pepe (and youngsters brought back from loan or promoted) to a forward line that already featured Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. They also brought in Dani Ceballos, a roving, hard-working but primarily creative player, in midfield.
After successive 2-2 draws, Arsenal came from behind to grab a 3-2 victory at home to Aston Villa last weekend. Their visitors led twice, after 20 and 60 minutes. A penalty from Pepe produced the original equaliser. After Calum Chambers had again levelled things, Aubameyang pounced five minutes from time to give the Gunners all three points.
Our Preview’s Man Utd vs Arsenal Betting Tips Verdict
It will be interesting to see just how Monday’s match plays out given the disparities in approach between these two teams. Man Utd’s matches have been some of the lowest-scoring encounters in the league, averaging over a goal less than those of Arsenal. They look primarily set up to counter-attack, which would be a potentially profitable strategy against the Gunners in normal circumstances.
With injury likely to rule out Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, Man Utd will be lacking some of their key counter-attacking threats. It is necessary to go back to 2006 to find the last time Arsenal won away in the league at Old Trafford, but the conditions look right for them to bring that winless run to an end on Monday. So this is our Man Utd vs Arsenal betting tip:
- Bet on Arsenal to win @ best odds of 2/1 with William Hill.
Compare Man Utd vs Arsenal Match Betting Odds from Best UK Bookies