Manchester United v Arsenal the team news, confirmed and otherwise…

by Bulldog Drummond

The Manchester Evening News gives us a headline of confirmed news, but no team, so it is back to our usual haunts in the search for insightful insights and other what-not.

The Independent suggests, for the side they delightfully now signify as “ARS”


Bellerin, Mustafi, Gabriel, Tierney;

Thomas, Ceballos, Xhaka;

Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang

The Guardian put up a match preview, but then took it off their football page headlines making it harder to find.  But we found it in the end…


Bellerin, Mustafi, Gabriel, Tierney;

Ceballos, Partey Xhaka;

Willian, Aubameyang, Saka

which notably leaves Lacazette out of the starting XI.

They give us their usual long list of possible subs as well:

Rúnarsson, Macey, Saliba, Soares, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Willock, Smith Rowe, Nelson, Pépé, Nketiah, Lacazette

The BBC have their normal collection of negative Arsenal factoids but even by their standards this is taking negativity to a new extreme.  Here are all six of them word for word from the BBC website

  1. “Arsenal could lose three league games in a row for the first time under Mikel Arteta.
  2. They could also fail to score in three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since 2016.
  3. The Gunners have lost six of their past nine Premier League away matches.
  4. Arteta’s side have kept only one clean sheet in their last 11 league fixtures.
  5. Arsenal have averaged just 8.8 shots and 1.3 goals per game in this season’s Premier League, their lowest tallies since 1997-98 and 1995-96 respectively.
  6. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has gone five league matches without a goal, his worst run since November 2014 when he was playing for Borussia Dortmund.”

Negative runs are of course always taken as bad news, but unless the team collapses and ends up in the North Central London League Division 2, the runs will all end sometime – they always do .  For example last season between 27 October and 29 December Arsenal won just one game (beating West Ham away in the League).  Six games were drawn and six were lost.   The media loved it and rubbed it in and in and in again.   But then in then Arsenal went ten unbeaten.

And this is the point.  When Arsenal have a negative run, as now, the implication in the media is always that this bad run will continue to eternity.  When Arsenal have a positive run of good results, the story is always “this is about to end”.  You only have to read the previews and match reports from the unbeaten season to see that in action.

Of course life would have been better if those 13 games with just one win last season had not happened,  but the run after that started to make up for it a bit, including of course the run to the FA Cup final.  A win today could get rid of a lot of the negative feeling that the old Wenger-Out and Emery-Out gangs plus their media allies all still spout.

But the point has to be made, Arsenal has followed the complainers desires, getting rid of two managers, and spending record sums on transfers – the two policies that the negativists always espouse – and now they have found that hasn’t helped, they keep suggesting we do it more and more.  The attacks on Arteta have started, focused on the notion that he is too prescriptive and doesn’t allow players enough freedom to express themselves.  With Wenger it was that he never did tactics properly but always just let the players play in their own way.

Back to the line ups and the Sun offers us


Bellerin, Gabriel, Mustafi, Tierney;

Ceballos, Partey Xhaka;

Willian, Aubameyang, Pepe

So another decision to leave out Laca, this time with Pepe taking over  the roll.

Sqwaka have another variation on what is clearly the main theme among team predictors by giving us three at the back…


Mustafi, Gabriel, Tierney;

Bellerin, Partey, Ceballos, Saka

Willian, Aubameyang, Pepe

That looks a bit risky to me at the back but the notion of Saka and Pepe playing together is exciting – although the problem is they are both on the same side of  the pitch.  If the tactics work and Saka stays back, suddenly appearing totally out of position while others hold his place then it could work.  It would if nothing else, be fun to see.

As ever Football.London from the Daily Mirror gives us the headline “confirmed team news” and then in their article having nothing about that.  There is a link to another article which has a list of the club’s full first team squad, which is not very helpful.

So there we are – that’s about it for the team news, and in our previous pieces, all the other news ahead of the game.  Let’s hope those negative runs come to an end.  Meanwhile if you are awaiting kick-off, here’s some other reading to keep you going.




36 Replies to “Manchester United v Arsenal the team news, confirmed and otherwise…”

  1. Not a mention of Holding but he’s in.

    Leno, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Bellerin, Partey, Elneny, Saka, Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang

  2. I hate to tempt fate but I think Deans been okay.

    Problem is I’ve seen this before from him. No key decisions to make so far so all pretty anaemic. But as soon as there’s a big call it will go against us, and that’s where tight games like this can be won and lost.

    A fifty fifty penalty appeal for us being waved away. A fifty fifty for them given. I may be doing Dean a dis service but I’ve seen it before from him.

    As for the lads, all that’s missing again is a goal. Echoes of Leicester. Let’s hope we aren’t made to pay again.

  3. Dean’s not as bad as he usually is. 3 yellows in 5 minutes a few ‘play ons’ & warnings. All the real chances to Arsenal. If not for Lindelöf it’s 0-2. Saka’s header could have been 3. Auba touched the ball more in the first half than the entire Leicester match. Some hope there, but not a lot of creativity behind him.

  4. Dean ignores al the fouls on Laca. Its like he’s doing it so that Laca gets angry enough to be sent off.

    United seem to do whatever they like and Dean does not see the foul. Standing 2 feet away from a free kick is OK.

    Neville and his co commentator are sucking up to the United supporter like they were spouses.

  5. Dean see the Pogba step on Bellerins foot and gives a pen but no card. It should have been a yellow.

    The reality is if Dean didn’t give it VAR would have to. Conspiracy theory is an excuse for ignorance.

    Auba takes it 0 -1 is the score.

    Means nothing till the final whistle. There;s plenty of time for Dean to impact the match.

  6. Dean in his environment. Books Auba after he leaves the pitch. Ignores the United fouls and gives them benefit of everything. McGuire should be off the park with two yellows but the first hasn’t arrived!!

  7. I’ve just lost £10 on Man U to win and I’m so damned happy!! That is what insurance is all about.

  8. Apart fromDean some outstanding performances, nearly all in the defensive department.

    1 Elneny

    2 Gabriel

    3 Holding

    4 Bbellerin

    5 Party

    6 Saka

    That’s my order of performance but EVERYBODY was a 7 plus.

  9. I haven’t seen a foul throw awarded for years even when the throws were clearly illegal. How many is it that have been given against us this season so far?

  10. Be thankful. Dean is usually far worse.

    I think that he actually is quite competent when he chooses not to be blatantly biased.

  11. That’s the best 90 minutes Arsenal have played under MA in my opinion , no chance for MU where they should have scored .
    I thought Arsenal controlled the game and played out from the back really well , Mr Partey is a monster .

  12. Steve Vallins

    Yes we seem to be getting the playing out of the back sorted. It’s still the preferred option but if it isn’t on we clear our lines and when we do we are picking up the 2nd ball often enough to cause trouble, and if we don’t we close them down immediately, stopping the fast turn around.

    John L

    And Gabriel could easily of picked up a 2nd yellow near the end.

    Look, I’m not saying Dean was perfect but neither did I think he was biased. Yep the foul throw thing is a bit annoying and curious. As Mikey says, nobody else is getting pulled up for them and lets be honest we see them every game. And yes no yellow for the penalty, but come on that was a good call from Dean because if he hadn’t given it I doubt VAR would of.

    Nope, over all no complaints from me on deans performance.

  13. ben

    Agree, another ‘odd’ decision.

    Okay if he overdid the stroll of the pitch maybe a card, but I thought he had been off the pitch a while when he was carded but the camera didn’t really show where he was. Also he was being jostled and as such had every right to stand his ground, especially Matic who definitely should of seen a card.

  14. Menace, Nitram and everyone thank you for commenting on Untold – it really feels good this evening. I try and lay off much commenting because self-evidently, I have my say everyday, and I don’t want to direct the comments; I do learn a lot from them.
    But I’m here because I think finally I’ve seen how this Arteta, 150% planning for all eventualities can work at its best.
    It was only Man U, and at home they are poor, but it was a step forward for Arsenal.
    And I want to add a note about Elneny. I made a point of writing about his potential before he went on loan, and highlighted him in the pre-matches, and when no one even mentioned him for the bench in the early games.
    I really do think he adds a lot to the stability of the defence by the work he does in front of them.
    So onwards and upwards. We are equal on points with Chelsea – who spent the entire GDP of Outer Mongolia in the summer. Not bad.

  15. Tony

    It’s always a pleasure to be just a small part of the best blogg on the interweb !!

    I remember well your unwavering support for Elneny, and I think tonight he proved your every expectation to be spot on by delivering a masterclass in defensive midfield play.

    As you will of noted above I had him as my MOTM, and to be above a player of Partey’s quality says all you need to know about the level of performance he delivered today.

    Going by Artetas post match comments I think he agreed.

    Yes tonight feels good 😃

  16. Yey – The Hoodoo has been exorcised and has evaporated on All Saints day of all days!!

    It was a great performance! Dean was not nearly as bad as he usually is and it felt like he was being fair. Maybe there’s about to be an investigation into the PGMOL.
    We may have won at the theatre of prawn sandwiches AND been awarded a penalty (will wonders never cease) but we still want justice for the last 15 years.

    Menace – I’m glad you lost your tenner! Brilliant comment. I’m often tempted to do that but am always too positive we’ll get a result and have been for the last 20 years, despite the 14 year drought. It feels like that sometimes, you have to bet against your wishes.

    I should apologies to Tony for criticising him for mentioning the negative press last week because I look at those blogs all the time. Sorry!
    Lots to be happy about today. Elneny, Partey, Gabriel. Every hair on Arteta’s head remaining in place for yet another week. Onward and upward!

    It looks like we are heading in the right direction and there was lots of creativity. We’ve usually had that but this time we have firm roots at the back as well, which is the most important thing.

    Enjoy MOTD everybody!!

  17. Sally Pally

    “Every hair on Arteta’s head remaining in place for yet another week. Onward and upward!” 🤣

    “It was a great performance! Dean was not nearly as bad as he usually is and it felt like he was being fair.” Exactly my thoughts.

    This is what I said at half time:

    “Problem is I’ve seen this before from him. No key decisions to make so far so all pretty anaemic. But as soon as there’s a big call it will go against us, and that’s where tight games like this can be won and lost. A fifty fifty penalty appeal for us being waved away. A fifty fifty for them given. I may be doing Dean a dis service but I’ve seen it before from him”.

    And so it proved, I was doing him a dis service. In the 2nd half he had 3 of those key decisions to make, 2 of which I believe he called correctly and 1 incorrectly, and the one he got wrong was in our favour. The 2 he got right were the penalty, and Gabriel’s crucial last ditch tackle by the touchline early in the half, both of which he could of called the other way round if he wanted to screw us, like he has so often before.

    The one I believe he got wrong was Gabriels other last ditch tackle near the end on Greenwood (?} that could easily of been a second yellow.

    Basically if Dean wanted to screw us the opportunity was there and he didn’t.

  18. Tony

    you’ve probably seen it but this is what Arteta had to say about Elneny from

    Eagle-eyed viewers of Sunday’s game at Old Trafford would’ve spotted our Egyptian midfielder sprinting 30 yards to close down Luke Shaw in the dying seconds of the game. But Elneny’s tireless work-rate and selfless attitude comes as no surprise to Mikel Arteta.

    “What Mo transmits to the team is special,” our manager said. “He has this energy as a person”.

    “He goes in the room and he creates that atmosphere. Today I said that we needed that energy and that positive feeling that he brings all the time. I think he was tremendous”.

    Quite right

  19. I have always said about Dean this:
    In his early matches in the PL he was a fair and decent ref.
    Then he messed up the Birmingham match with the terrible Eduardo injury where he complety messed up and screwed it. Wenger was furious about that and he took that personally. Then came the match at United where Wenger was forced in to the stands where we still can remember him standing there crucified. Later Dean and Probert had to apologise for the water bottle incident and their handling of it. Since that day Dean AND Probert have been the worst refs against Arsenal.
    From that moment it got personel between Dean/Probert and Wenger.
    Since Wenger left us Dean has been much more on a level field. And that itself is very shamful as it shows that Dean has let his personel feelings get in the way of his refereeing. Probert was the same but luckily he had to stop a while ago.

    So now we have the Dean of his early days I think. Still a strange ref but his bias has more or less gone away and he does his matches in a more even way when Arsenal is out on the field.

  20. This match has left me quite optimistic. The team’s performance against an eleven trying to hit us on the counter was very good. The players are starting to figure out how MA wants them to move and though things didn’t really come off, they were looking lively…much more lively than the team in red. It looked as if one team had a specific way of moving in mind and the other’s was purely reactive. Our team looked like it had an upside, ManU looked as good as they are going to.

  21. First I must thank all you commenters for your opinions. The PGMOL may occassionally be laid back and decent, but do not lose sight of their evil souls and unhealthy minds.

    In the spuds match, Kane was awarded a penalty for ‘making a back’ for an opponent to hurt himself. There were many examples of the Mourinho way of ‘winning a free kick’. It is the select group of officials that Riley and his cronies put together and supply the FA that make the decisions. Simulations galore not getting punished, but getting rewarded with gifts to improve positions.

    In our team, the position ElNeny has taken is similar to that of Gilberto where he is hardly noticed but is key in taking the ball if the opponent and laying it off to a team mate. His position alongside Partey makes it very efficient to transition to offence.
    Our forward players are not yet aggresive enough to make an impact. They have been attempting to pass the ball in the net rather than shoot on sight.
    We have to be grateful for our defence and now we have a set of players that when gelled will bring us success.

    Arteta has given us hope and that is tremendous in the current environment.


  22. Best defensive record in the league.
    Havant heard a mention of that in the media.
    We’re going back to the 1 0 to the arsenal days.

  23. WOO HOO , HOO ! Well played the whole team . So assured and unhurried , and in full control. That being said , in all honesty, United were very piss poor !
    Mo Elneny was truly outstanding in a very understated way. Was there when needed and won or picked up all the loose balls and distributed it well.
    In Malaysia we had Tony Adams as co-expert commemorator , and I have never seen him being so positive , or so generous in praising the team. He actually seemed happy !

    While René Meulensteen , was quite rightly unimpressed with Man Utd and did not hide his displeasure . At everything Man Utd ! And rightly too.
    I would have loved to have heard what Gary Nevile sprouted about them . That is if I was ever bothered.

    A good win ; a clean sheet, especially away from home ; PEA finding his scoring boots , and the whole team performing well.

    Up the Gunners !

  24. I thought Dean had a very good match. Not because he favoured either team, but because he got the vast majority of his decisions correct. In the odd instances where he didn’t, the errors appeared to be evenly distributed.

    It was good to see Roy Keane go into meltdown mode after the game.
    There was a foul-throw given in the Leeds-Leicester match tonight.

    I saw a video on Twitter a couple of weeks ago where Kane “made a back” for a defender (after first looking to see where his opponent was), and then fell over in the box.

  25. Dean can referee a game fairly when he needs to. After being cheated out of the last 3 games with bent VAR decisions the pressure was on (and probably a lot of money at the bookies) so he officiated it as best he could.
    Don’t worry he will screw us next time!

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