Arsenal v Manchester United: beware Man U away form; beware the referee!

by Bulldog Drummond

To find the last time Manchester United’s first team lost away from home we have to go back almost two months to 8 December 2020 when they lost 3-2 away to Red Bull Leipzig and got themselves knocked out of the Champions League – which was rather careless.

Since then it has been a case of four wins and two draws – those draws being 2-2 with Leicester on Boxing Day and a goalless affair with Liverpool on 17 January.

Indeed the only defeats they have had at all since the Red Bull game which knocked theminto the Europa League were the home defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup and the home defeat to the mighty Sheffield United in the Premier League three days ago.

Over that same recent period we have been doing quite well, as I am sure you will recall…

Date Game Res Score Competition
26 Dec 2020 Arsenal v Chelsea W 3-1 Premier League
29 Dec 2020 Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal W 0-1 Premier League
2 Jan 2021 West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal W 0-4 Premier League
9 Jan 2021 Arsenal v Newcastle United W 2-0 FA Cup
14 Jan 2021 Arsenal v Crystal Palace D 0-0 Premier League
18 Jan 2021 Arsenal v Newcastle United W 3-0 Premier League
23 Jan 2021 Southampton v Arsenal L 1-0 FA Cup
26 Jan 2021 Southampton v Arsenal W 1-3 Premier League

One defeat away to Southampton in the Cup, which now looks very much like the manager carefully prioritising the League form to push for another finish in the much acclaimed not a trophy spots.

But here is a thought: Manchester United have played eight games in 2021 and scored ten goals, which is 1.25 goals a game.

Arsenal have played six games in 2021 and scored 12 goals, which my calculator after much deliberation tells me is 2.00 goals a game.  In the vernacular so beloved by journalists, we can outgun them.

However here are the rest of the stats that the media won’t ever show you…

Club Tackles Fouls Tackles per foul Yellow cards Fouls per yellow Penalties for Penalties against Lge pos
Arsenal 240 185 1.30 29 6.37 3 1 9
Man U 315 244 1.29 31 7.87 6 4 2

Arsenal now are bottom of the fouls league having committed fewer than any other team in the league.  And this is working because Arsenal has the second best defence in the Premier League, conceding just 20 goals (equal with Tottenham).  Manchester United have the 12th best defence in the league – very much a mid-table team when it comes to defending.

But Manchester United have the advantage when it comes to scoring – they have scored 11 more goals than us this season.

As the figures above show, both clubs get punished fairly equally by referees for illegal tackles – the difference is that Manchester United put in many more tackles than we do.  So we will get 32% more free kicks than they do in the course of this game, and should try and do something with them.  But the yellow cards will be handed out equally, despite the much higher number of infringements delivered by Manchester United – a typical situation.

Man U also manage to pick up penalties in their favour – with this plus their ability to get away with fouls without getting more yellow cards, it means they clearly have the eye of the ref working in their favour, so it is going to be another one of those games where the referee looks one way.

The BBC’s summary of our squad situation is that Martin Odegaard might or might not make his debut and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang might or might not play.  Likewise Thomas Partey and Emile Smith Rowe might or might not be fit.  However there is one thing they are more certain of: Kieran Tierney is expected to be available again.

Last, the head to head.  Over  the years Manchester United are one of the few teams who have outdone us winning 99 games against us, while we have only beaten them 85 times.  There have been 49 draws.

We had a terrible run against them from 2007 to 2015, but matters then improved somewhat until in the four matches between 2 December 2017 and 25 January 2019 we lost three and drew one.

But as is the situation with swings and roundabouts, it has moved our way somewhat of late

Date Game Res Score Competition
10 Mar 2019 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
30 Sep 2019 Manchester United v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
1 Jan 2020 Arsenal v Manchester United W 2-0 Premier League
1 Nov 2020 Manchester United v Arsenal W 0-1 Premier League

There is hope, but their away form is worrying.

4 Replies to “Arsenal v Manchester United: beware Man U away form; beware the referee!”

  1. Interesting game, but yes, beware the referee.
    Fergie may not be their ref selecting manager any more, but some of Fergie enablers are still there, including Mike Riley. And when you look at some of the decisions Utd continue to enjoy, there is good reason for Arteta to be wary
    As ever, our players have to watch every tackle.
    Though all things being equal….I know…..we can get something out of this game

  2. I think they are also the only team to have a GOAL against them not given on the basis it was only 2 metres over the line.

  3. I see, if a United player retaliates and acts aggressively the Arsenal player is booked for an innocuous elbow

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