Will Arsenal be too much for Manchester United?
By Joe Harker
Arsenal come into their midweek Premier League fixture with the momentum from their North London Derby win over Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United carry the soporific form that saw them draw against Crystal Palace and Southampton in their last two games. United are the hosts for the game but fans at Old Trafford may have to gear themselves up for a harsh lesson in how far they have fallen. Then again, nothing in football is guaranteed and Arsenal cannot expect to turn up and dominate their opponents.
Games between United and Arsenal used to be clashes between two clubs challenging for the Premier League title but those days have passed for the time being. United aren't even in the top six at the moment and are enduring a torrid season, while Arsenal are starting their new era under manager Unai Emery with a top four finish on the cards but a title challenge a long way off.
Emery has insisted that the game against United will be a marker for how much progress Arsenal have made under him. They are eight points above their opponents and playing well but it is still early days and a win against United could give a clearer picture of where they stand in comparison to other top Premier League teams. Emery said: "It will be a very big challenge for us on Wednesday 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 Gunners haven't won at Old Trafford since 2006 but they go into the game with much better form than their opponents, if there was ever a time to play against United it is now. The Red Devils haven't won in the League for over a month and their performances have been extremely poor.
United manager Jose Mourinho played down earlier comments he made that the club would need a miracle to finish in the top four, but said he was having to revise his goals for the season based on their league position and points.
Looking at where they are in the league and the gulf on the pitch between United and the other "top six" teams it would indeed take a miracle to finish in the top four this season. If they beat Arsenal it will be an important moment in the season but if they lose they will be 11 points away from their opponents, the current occupiers of fourth place. Would United really be able to close that gap over the course of a season?
Former United player Gary Neville said he wouldn't be surprised if his old team beat Arsenal at Old Trafford desite their current form. He said: "Old Trafford is always a difficult place to go so it wouldn't surprise me if United win on Wednesday night.
"However, what United will now recognise is that they have had that warning from Arsenal with how they beat Spurs. No team should be shocked about how Arsenal are going to play going in to big matches."
Manchester United and Arsenal play at Old Trafford tonight, kick off is at 8pm. The match will be shown live on BT Sport.