August 18, 2022

The new year gets underway in style on Thursday as Arsenal and Manchester United renew hostilities with the latest chapter in arguably the most enduring and defining rivalry of the Premier League era.

Far from the peak of the 1990s and early 2000s, though, both sides enter the new decade sitting outside the top four and looking to rediscover their past glories under the leadership of a former player.

Match preview

There is no getting away from the fact that fixtures between Arsenal and Manchester United are a far cry from their heyday, but in Mikel Arteta and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer there are now two men in charge who know all about this contest.

Solskjaer played when the rivalry was at its fiercest and most ferocious, while Arteta faced United more often than he did any other club during his playing career, not to mention his more recent ties with their local rivals Manchester City.

Arteta is now in the position of having to mastermind victory against the foe he knows so well, and there would be few sweeter opponents for him to get his first win as Arsenal boss against.

The Spaniard has certainly brought about an improvement from the Gunners since his appointment, at least in terms of performances if not results.

Just one point from his opening two games is not the return he would have wanted, but the displays have been encouraging and the players appear to have bought into his demand for a greater work ethic and structure.

It looked for a long time as though he would pick up a maiden victory in his first home game at the helm, with Arsenal the better side for much of Sunday’s London derby with Chelsea, only for a howler from Bernd Leno to gift the Blues a route back into the match as they pulled off a dramatic late turnaround to win 2-1.

Team News

Arsenal’s injury worries grew when Calum Chambers limped off in the first half against Chelsea, with the defender set for another extended spell on the sidelines with a knee problem.

Speculation is rife that Granit Xhaka could be on his way out of Arsenal during the January transfer window, but the midfielder is expected to be in contention for this one having missed the Chelsea defeat with illness.

The former skipper is one of a number of players who will be assessed ahead of the game, with Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding all closing in on returns from injury.

Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney are longer-term absentees, though, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos is unlikely to feature having sustained concussion less than a week ago.

United also have a number of players who are in the final stages of recovery, although this match is expected to come too soon for Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

Scott McTominay remains sidelined with a knee injury, but Paul Pogba could return to the fold after sitting out of the win over Burnley.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard will also be hopeful of recalls, although Solskjaer is unlikely to break up the in-form attacking duo of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Head To Head

Arsenal have won just one of the last six meetings between these two sides, although that was the corresponding fixture last season as Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired them to a 2-0 win.

Indeed, Aubameyang has scored in each of the last three editions of this fixture, including the reverse contest in September when he earned Arsenal a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.

United are one short of 100 wins against Arsenal across all competitions, whereas the Gunners have come out on top 83 times and there have been 49 draws in the past 231 meetings.

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka; Xhaka, Torreira; Nelson, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Man Utd possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; Fred, Matic; Greenwood, Pogba, Rashford; Martial

Arsenal Lineup Against United

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