Arsenal

Arsenal lineups at Man United as Kieran Tierney starts and Gabriel Martinelli handed new role

What was once a Premier League title decider has descended into a fixture to claim bragging rights for supporters in recent years.

Although, Thursday night’s clash between Arsenal and Manchester United at Old Trafford should have a bit more edge to it as the two sides are battling it out for a top-four spot.

Not many were expecting the Gunners to be in contention for a return to European football’s elite club competition at this stage of the season, but they went into this round of midweek clashes outside the Champions League spots by virtue of an inferior goal difference to West Ham United.

In fact, Arsenal can move eight points clear of Man United in the Premier League table if they repeat what happened in the corresponding fixture last season.

A second half penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed a 1-0 win for the visitors – their first victory at Old Trafford in the Premier League since 2006 and Mikel Arteta has already said his side can’t go that long in between wins at the famous stadium.

“Absolutely. That’s what we have to try to do,” the Spaniard said in his pre-match press conference. “It’s not just about doing it once. (Until) Last year Arsenal hadn’t won there for 17 years, and that cannot be the case if we want to be at the top level.”

In terms of team news, Granit Xhaka and Sead Kolasinac are the only first-team players definitely unavailable for selection, although Bukayo Saka is doubtful after picking up a knock against Newcastle United last weekend.

With that said, a near full-strength squad will present Arteta with a selection headache when it comes to naming his lineup to face the Red Devils.

Arsenal face a tricky test against something of an unknown quantity in this Manchester United side.

We’re not sure how they will attack, or even if they will at all after how they played against Chelsea, but no matter how they choose to go forward, you feel the Gunners defence will be able to cope.

Aaron Ramsdale had nothing to do more or less against Newcastle but still produced a match winning save, while Ben White and Gabriel were both impressive on and off the ball.

Takehiro Tomiyasu had his best offensive performance so I’d stick with him to deal with whoever United go for on the left, but one change I would make is bringing Kieran Tierney back in for Nuno Tavares.

I know Nuno played well against Newcastle, but on a night where the atmosphere will be rawcous, and a cool head is required, I just think the Scottish international would be the better pick.

In to midfield and I’d stick with the Sambi-Partey pivot, particularly given how well Albert Sambi Lokonga bounced back from his second half nightmare at Anfield.

Bukayo Saka may not be fit for the match, but if he is then for me he has to start after a man of the match display at the weekend, with Emile Smith Rowe on the opposite flank.

In the middle I feel as though the chizzle of Martin Odegaard may be a more effective presence than the hammer of Alexandre Lacazette as Arsenal look to break down what will probably be a tightly packed United defence if Michael Carrick’s previous games are anything to go by.

Then up front it’s got to be Aubameyang again for me. I know he missed the big chance against Newcastle, but the fact he’s getting in those positions is a great sign for me, and I still feel it’s a matter of time before the goals come again.

Arsenal vs Manchester United: Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Sambi, Partey, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Aubameyang

Aaron Catterson-Reid – Trends Writer

With Arsenal tasting defeat just once in their last 12 outings, I wouldn’t rotate too much in such a big game.

The majority of the back five pick themselves, with left-back the only position that splits opinions at this moment in time. Nuno Tavares enjoyed some excellent displays when first-choice Kieran Tierney was out injured in October before usurping the Scottish international upon his return last month.

Despite showcasing an incredible amount of energy and drive against Newcastle, Tavares also was often wasteful in possession, opting to shoot from distance instead of recycling the ball to his teammates.

For that reason, I would opt for Tierney this time, especially when you consider he was instrumental during the 1-0 victory at Old Trafford last year.

In midfield, I’d stick with the double pivot of Thomas Partey and Albert Sambi Lokonga, the latter of which registered a whopping six chances created against the Magpies last time out.

Martin Odegaard would be my number 10 as his ball retention and press resistance could be vital for the Gunners to progress up the pitch, supported by Emile Smith Rowe on the left side.

On the right flank, I would opt for Gabriel Martinelli, with Bukayo Saka a major doubt due to injury. Ordinarily a left-winger, Martinelli showcased his intelligent movement and composure from the right side over the weekend as he netted his side’s second goal second after coming off the bench.

The Brazilian’s energy could be crucial on the break alongside club-captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who I would start as the central striker.

 

 

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