Manchester United v Arsenal preview as Jose Mourinho insists Old Trafford clash ‘won’t be easy’ for Unai Emery’s side
PUBLISHED: 21:05 04 December 2018 | UPDATED: 21:05 04 December 2018
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Unai Emery’s Arsenal travel to Old Trafford to take on Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United on Wednesday evening. Read on for Layth Yousif’s preview of the eagerly-awaited Premier League clash.
Emery’s fourth place Gunners take on the Red Devils who sit eight points and four positions behind.
The North Londoners travel up the M6 boosted by their excellent 4-2 victory in a dramatic derby against bitter rivals Spurs on Sunday.
Mourinho’s United are struggling, having only won two of their last five league matches, while Emery’s in-form Arsenal will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to 20 matches.
Defeat for United, who drew 2-2 against Southampton at the weekend in what proved to be former Red Mark Hughes’ last game in charge of the south coast outfit, will pile more pressure on abrasive but beleaguered Mourinho.
The Old Trafford outfit are short of defensive options, and are willing Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly recover from foot and back injuries.
Ashley Young is out serving a one-game ban while Phil Jones is reportedly nursing an injury with Luke Shaw and Romelu Lukaku concerns after leaving the field against the Saints on Saturday.
Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka will miss the game as he is suspended after accumulating five yellow cards while creative midfielder Mesut Ozil is unlikely to feature because of back spasms.
Head coach Emery previewed the match, saying: “It will be a very big challenge for us and it will confirm our good moment, or whether we need more.
“It is very difficult to win there because they are a very big team with big players and have a big atmosphere pushing them, but it is an exciting match and my motivation is very big.”
The match will mark the first meeting between the sides in which neither Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger will be involved since 23 August 1986, when the Gunners won 1-0 in a league game at Highbury.
United are unbeaten in 11 home league matches against Arsenal since a 1-0 defeat in September 2006 (W8, D3).
United boss Mourinho said: “We will have a very difficult match. They are a good team who have had a good run of results. But in spite of our selection issues, they know it won’t be easy either.
“We don’t need a miracle [to finish in the top four] at all. I think we need a good run of results and we don’t need to waste points where we shouldn’t be wasting them.”
Mourinho’s side are winless in three league games for the first time in 12 months and a victory for the Gunners would give Emery’s side 16 away points - as many as they claimed in total on the road last season (W4, D4, L11).
They have also already equalled last term’s total of four away victories in the top flight even if Sunday’s win over Spurs was only the Gunners fourth win in their last 29 league games against other sides from the established top six (D10, L15).
For match coverage from Old Trafford follow Arsenal reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29