January 25, 2019
Manchester United take on Unai Emery’s Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Friday evening in the Emirates FA Cup. The two sides met earlier this season, albeit under Jose Mourinho’s leadership with Arsenal finding it hard to beat United, the result being a 2-2 draw. United are undefeated by Arsenal in the last three matches, the last defeat saw United lose 2-0 at the end of the 2016/17 season. Since the two sides last met at the start of December, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has come in and changed the landscape at the club.
Solskjaer has given his side the freedom to express themselves, which most of the time has seen United back at their best, playing attacking football, scoring goals galore and getting the results that were needed to help United get the finish they desire in the Premier League this season. In the past seven matches, United have earned 18 Premier League points (six Premier League matches), scored 19 goals, conceded just four, keeping three clean sheets.
United and Arsenal have met 228 times in the history of both clubs, dating back from the first match, Newton Heath v Woolwich Arsenal, a 3-3 draw on the 18 October 1894. United have won 98 times, drawn 48 times and lost just 82 times, meaning they are unbeaten in 64% of the matches they have played, losing 36% of matches played. Since Solskjaer took the caretaker manager role, United have won their last seven matches in all competitions, surely in form but still needing consistency and improvement.
Young, Lindelof, Bailly, Shaw;
Lingard, Pogba, Sanchez;
Grant; Jones, Dalot; Mata, Fred; Martial, Rashford
It is fair to say that this United team has been much better under Soldkjaer than it was under Mourinho. Some will tell you that it was all down to Mourinho, even though the problems he faced were much similar to those that Louis van Gaal and David Moyes faced. Granted, Mourinho took no prisoners and the club knew what they were getting but by no means was everything his fault. Some players needed to stand out and take account of their actions.
As the time has gone by since Mourinho’s sacking, the squad have overcome the problems sustained at the time and played much more fluid football, attacking their opposition from the start of the game in many instances. However, there have still been some bring performances to contend with; the 2-0 victory over Reading in the FA Cup, the 2-1 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend was another. Rome was not built in a day so I am not expecting miracles.
If United can take on Arsenal as they took on Tottenham Hotspur a few weeks ago, they will be in with a chance of getting something at the Emirates; in the last five meetings at the Emirates, United have won twice, lost twice and drawn once. Arsenal supporters held the bragging rights over United this season with their massive unbeaten run and the fact they were well above United. Now that they are both on par, the bragging rights have dissolved with United close to getting the better of this fallen North London club.