Unai Emery will have to think long and hard about his team selection for Monday’s game against Manchester United at Old Trafford. He really needs to find his best Arsenal team now that Bellerin, Holding and Tierney are available after injury. All three must surely start to push a depleted United and gain a first half advantage.
I suspect that the trio will play some part but not the entire 90 minutes purely as a precautionary measure. There’s a number of intriguing questions regarding Arsenal’s starting line up. If Holding plays where does Luiz fit in for Arsenal ? especially if Emery insists on including Sokratis in Arsenal defence.
Then there’s the question of the inclusion of Chambers and Guendouzi who have been exceptional for Arsenal of late. It’s a nice problem to have but it’s the midfield in particular that concerns me. Arsenal have to dominate this area to strangle the game and I’m still not sure that Emery has found the right mix yet.
Arsenal have been reasonable in the league for one half of a game but not both. They are lacking control and consistency and go from poor to excellent or vice versa without explanation.
Questions persist in this clash for the Spaniard, will Emery inject youth into the Arsenal side or roll with experience against a patched up and threadbare United, who could be without Rashford, Pogba and Martial. Solskjaer has so few options available that the United should go on trial for dereliction of duty.
The failure of United to secure a recognised goal scorer will haunt Solskjaer as the season goes on. Taking half chances can make all the difference in tight games but it’s hard to see where United are going to get their goals from.
It’s fair to say that this is not the same type of United side we are used to seeing and for all problems for Arsenal on paper, they should be able to squeeze United in this fixture.
I expect a fairly defensive United set up because of the threat from Arsenal’s front line and I would be sorely tempted to give Bukayo Saka or Gabriel Martinelli a look in at some point. The pace and inventiveness of this pair will cause panic in the United defence and mistakes are inevitable.
It’s going to be an interesting game with two sides that are in a state of transition. Arsenal fans will feel the more optimistic with their abundance of attacking options but anyone thinking that the result will be a foregone conclusion should remember that these former giants of the premier league, will be passionate regardless of their shortcomings.
It’s another game where the talents of the blossoming Guendouzi will be required, as much for the passion he brings as his skills. The winner of this game will at least feel that they have a legitimate claim to a top four slot and will derive confidence from a solid performance and decent result.
It appears to be more crucial to United who are barely changing gears and are bereft of quality and depth. This early in the proceedings but it’s safe to say that the fight for the champions league will be a long one, with many fluctuations. Spurs, who were once considered to be title contenders, seem to have completely lost their way, something that was evident against Colchester in the EFL cup.
The fact that this trophy is now assuming a greater level of priority in the minds of some of the top sides shows how much of a gap there is between Manchester City and Liverpool. It was Wenger’s platform to experiment at Arsenal but Emery will desperately want to win some silverware regardless of its perceived importance.
On reflection, it’s easy to feel that Solskjaer has been sold a dream that in reality is more akin to an 18 month nightmare. If he and United limp into January and United don’t at least try to reinforce at the top, he may well suffer an unproductive campaign. Back him or sack him comes to mind.
Preferred Arsenal side :-
Leno, Bellerin, Sokratis, Holding, Tierney, Luiz, Torreira, Pepe, Guendouzi, Saka, Aubameyang.
Probable Arsenal line up :-
Leno, Chambers, Sokratis, Luiz, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Pepe, Guendouzi, Torreira, Saka,Aubameyang.
Predicted score :-
Arsenal win 3-1