Arsenal v Manchester United: Early team news
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Manchester United arrive at Arsenal on Saturday eight points behind their rivals Manchester City but Jose Mourinho isn’t concerned ahead of the huge clash in North London.
Mourinho revealed Nemanja Matic is a doubt for the match with a muscular injury after he was substituted against Watford in midweek, while Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger confirmed Alexandre Lacazette will miss the game with a groin problem.
There is also a doubt about Alexis Sanchez who picked up a slight hamstring strain in the win over Huddersfield Town on Wednesday at the Emirates as Mourinho also stated Marouane Fellaini will not travel with his squad.
But for Mourinho is focussing purely on Arsenal as he told Sky Sports News: “I tell my players think just about the next game. It doesn’t matter what comes up, or what happened before, it’s just about the next game.
“So now it’s Arsenal. We don’t think how many points we are ahead of Arsenal, we don’t think about that. It’s difficult enough to focus on other things, so let’s just focus on this game.”
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Meanwhile Arsenal boss Wenger has thrown down the gauntlet to his forwards ahead of the crucial clash against Mourinho’s United on Saturday.
Despite an emphatic second half performance by his men in the eventual 5-0 rout of Huddersfield Town on Tuesday the long-serving Frenchman challenged his attacking players to step up against United – as the Gunners head into a crucial run of league matches which could define their season.
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With Mourinho’s side beating Watford 4-2 at Vicarage Road on Tuesday evening, following a 1-0 victory against Brighton at Old Trafford and a 4-1 rout of Newcastle United prior to losing 1-0 at Chelsea the Red Devils head to North London on a good run of form.
Wenger has called on his strikers to raise their game ahead of the eagerly-awaited clash at the Emirates which kicks-off at 5.30pm.
He said: “Improvement is always possible, that’s what we want to focus on,” said Wenger. “Keep the good things we have done recently, but improve.
“We have improved our defensive record recently but we know going forward we can do better, we can be more prolific.
“We do not take enough of our chances and we want to create more as well. So there is still room for improvement.”
It was noticeable arch-tactician Mourinho played a 3-5-2 formation in the victory at Watford – a system he last employed in the 1-0 win against Spurs back in October.
The switch could indicate he is planning to use the system against Arsenal at the weekend by getting the players requited with it ahead of the match.
There is also speculation that with Marcus Rashford failing to influence the match against the Seagulls, Anthony Martial – who partnered Romelu Lukaku during the game and scored – could feature from the start against the Gunners at the expense of England’s talented teenager.
The pair dovetailed well and the Portuguese boss – who is Wenger’s bitter adversary after his attacks on the Arsenal boss became personal when he was at Chelsea – may opt to use deploy the pair in tandem on Saturday.
The last match between the two Premier League giants ended in a 2-0 win for Arsenal back in May through two goals in three second half minutes from Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck.
Manchester United are one of only a handful of clubs who have a better head-to-head record over Arsenal – with Liverpool and, surprisingly Brentford, the others.
Total games players across all competitions 225. Arsenal wins 82, draws 47, Manchester United 96.