Arsenal vs Manchester United: 5 major talking points

1 September 2023

Arsenal vs Manchester United: 5 major talking points

The bad news is that one of those dreaded international breaks is coming up. The good news is we’ve got one of the most classic Premier League fixtures coming up before then.

In preparation for the weekend’s standout fixture of Arsenal versus Manchester United (available live on Showmax Pro on Sunday, 3 September, courtesy of SuperSport), here’s a look at the key issues going into this heavyweight clash.

1. A slumbering rivalry awakened

In the days of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, battles between these two clubs used to define title races and set the standard that all other clubs could only aspire to reach.

With both clubs gradually sliding down the Premier League table, the fixture has gone through a few years of being significant more for its history than anything else, but with both sides experiencing a resurgence last season with returns to the top four, some of the lustre has returned to the fixture again.

2. A chance to make an early statement

Neither club will be quite satisfied with how they’ve started the season. Arsenal are ruing the two points they dropped at home against a 10-man Fulham team and United are still smarting from their last visit to North London when they lost to Tottenham.

For the Gunners, the challenge is to show that last season’s title challenge wasn’t a once-off and that they can maintain those standards for a second consecutive season.

For the Red Devils, they need to show that the Erik ten Hag project is progressing, and leapfrogging a team that finished above them last season could be a great confidence boost for players and fans alike before the international break.

3. The loser could fall too far behind Manchester City

If either of these teams are going to challenge for the title, they will need to stay in touch with the champions, who have yet to put a foot wrong in their first three games.

You don’t want to rule anyone out of a title race as early as September, but the prospect of Arsenal falling five points behind the leaders or United falling six points behind already looks like a massive mountain to climb when you consider that Pep Guardiola’s team hardly drop any points at all.

The winners will stay in touch with City and will feel like they’re in this season’s title race. The losers will feel like they have their work cut out just to finish in the top four again.

4. Arsenal looking to build on their recent dominance over United

While it’s the Red Devils that have the bragging rights when it comes to the overall Premier League head-to-head records, it’s the Gunners that have had the edge in their recent meetings.

Arsenal have beaten United in their last two games at the Emirates. You have to go back to the era between 1988 and 1991 for when they last won three in a row (in a period where they won the league title twice).

Their Arsenal attack has flowed in the last two home wins against United, with the team scoring three goals in both games. Bukayo Saka has been a constant threat with a goal in each of those games.

5. A big test for Onana and the United defence

David de Gea’s departure was always going to leave big boots to fill, but Andre Onana is relishing the opportunity, with the Cameroonian showing early signs of his ability and authoritative presence in the goalkeeping jersey.

However, it’s been far from plain sailing for him in his first three Premier League games. He picked up a clean sheet on his debut against Wolves where he was lucky not to concede a penalty. After that, he’s conceded two goals in back-to-back games against Tottenham and Nottingham Forest respectively.

Playing Arsenal’s attack away from home is bound to keep him busy. With Raphael Varane ruled out through injury, it will be a new centre-back pairing ahead of him too. A clean sheet in these circumstances will go a long way towards proving he was the right choice to be the new Manchester United number one.

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