Arsenal v Man U preview
- How Arsenal and Manchester City have followed the same path (but others have not)
- Arsenal transfers: a perfect example of how make-believe rumours work
By Bulldog Drummond
Manchester United have so far played two pre-season friendlies – beating Lyon 1-0 and Leeds United 2-0, having ended last season by losing in the FA Cup final. Although prior to that they did win four fairly easy games in a row, at home to Wolverhampton, Chelsea and Fulham and away to Bournemouth. The goal tally was nine for and two against. Certainly someone somewhere wanted them to have an easy end-of-season ride.
So far this summer they have bought Mason Mount from Chelsea for £55m (rising to £60m with potential add ons), goalkeeper André Onana from Inter Milan for £44.1m and Jonny Evans from Leicester City, on a free.
They have released or transferred on frees, six players including goalkeeper David de Gea.
Although tipped to be signing many others, the three Arsenal transfers that have been formally completed are Rice, Havertz and Timber with Xhaka the most notable departure. So Arsenal’s net spend is £187m thus far against Manchester United’s £99m.
Meanwhile in an interview Mikel Arteta has said that Thomas Partey is a “super important player” for Arsenal and that he will “not be sold this summer despite Declan Rice’s arrival.”
As for tonight’s match, Partey along with Emile Smith Rowe is available for this game, and although it is reported in some quarters that Trossard picked up a slight knock so could be rested. However, Arteta refuted that saying “he’s fine” and indicating he would play. Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes are said to be available for Manchester United. Tyrell Malacia is reported not to be playing.
If we take a look at the last six league games played at the end of last season, we find that rather surprisingly Brentford were the most effective side and less surprisingly Chelsea the least effective, while Manchester United and Arsenal were upper mid-table. Arsenal’s problem of course toward the end was the defence. Here’s the table for the last six matches in the league, comparing four teams…
Manchester United are one of a small gaggle of teams that have actually beaten Arsenal in league and cup games more than the reverse: they have won 101 to Arsenal’s 87 with 50 being drawn. Although in the last ten games in league and cup Arsenal have won five, Manchester United three and two were drawn. In the most recent three games, Arsenal have won two, scoring seven, while Manchester United won the other scoring six across those games. So on that basis we might see a few goals tonight.
Between 2007 and 2013 Manchester United won the league five times and came second twice, but since then things have not gone so well. They have come second twice, third twice, fourth, fifth, sixth three times, and seventh.
During that same spell from 2014 onward, Arsenal have come second twice, third, fifth three times, sixth and eighth twice.
But there was a significant difference in playing style between the two clubs last season as can be seen from the disciplinary figures. Arsenal got 52 yellow and no red cards, while Manchester United got 78 yellows and two reds. Thus while Arsenal were third in the disciplinary table, Manchester United were 13th, in a huddle of high-infringement clubs, with just six fewer yellow cards than the likes of Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers – the three dirtiest teams in the league, in terms of yellows.
As for the pre-match interview, there was one rather nice moment in which Arteta was being questioned alongside Zinchenko. The question was asked, “What do you think of Saliba?” Arteta replied, “Let me ask my assistant. What do you think of Willy?” To which Zinchenko dutifully replied, “Unbelievable!”
Arteta also made the point that Saliba had extended his contract and so “all seems to be OK.”
This was also the interview in which Arteta said that Partey and Rice “can play together and that was in my plans. If you want to improve the squad and have more quality, we need players that can play together, but we need players in the same position that have to fight for their places. It’s something that we haven’t had over the last few years and we wanted to improve that, and that’s why we brought Declan as well.”
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