Convalescents not so long ago, Arsenal and Manchester United experienced a big downgrade, which notably deprived them of the Champions League this season. That was before getting the icing again in a spectacular way: when it comes time to cross swords this Sunday, the two most in-form teams in the country are ready to reap their rewards.
December 2017. Fourth-placed Arsenal host second-placed Manchester United. Guided by Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba, MU ruled the Emirates (1-3), to confirm their place as runners-up and push the AFC to seven points. Since, Gunners and Red Devils no longer faced each other with both being ranked in the top 4. Until this Sunday. The curves fluctuated, momentarily crossed, before really getting closer. This time, the hunter is Mancunian, and the hunted Londoner. But, more importantly, everyone is armed to legitimately hope to bring back something to eat. From this year.
Emirates, your ruthless universe
Intractable leader with five points ahead of Manchester City (and one game less), Arsenal emerged strengthened from a high-risk streak, marked by a trip to Brighton, the reception of Newcastle and a boiling derby against Tottenham. Despite the dreaded absence of Gabriel Jesus, Mikel Arteta’s men made a strong impression by taking seven points out of nine, in the wake of a boss-sized Martin Ødegaard (four goals and three assists in the last five days). Sunday, they will once again be able to rely on their fortress of the Emirates, where they remain on ten wins and a draw in the Premier League. We have to go back to April 9, 2022 to find traces of the last setback of the Gunners in the league in their lair.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 15, 2023
“Tactically, it looks like Arteta is ready for anything, praised Alan Shearer. On Sunday, he certainly outsmarted Antonio Conte with his game plan, especially in the first half, when Arsenal seemed to have an extra man in each area of the pitch. » The coach of Spurs bowed with fair play: “They have good balance and they hit when needed. In the second half, they suffered a lot and showed their resilience. When a team can do this, it means they are ready to fight for a title. » On pole to catch a timpani that has been leaking since 2004, Arsenal have only trailed three times this season: 8 minutes against Fulham, 26 minutes against West Ham and… 49 minutes on the lawn of Manchester United. Arteta then pointed the “lack of discipline” and lethality of his men. Deficiencies sanctioned by a 3-1 loss, their only loss so farWell.
Red Devils Redemption
A Premier League red lantern in mid-August, Manchester United no longer had much to do with the apathetic team then humiliated at Brentford. Well established in the top 4, MU can aim to reconnect with the Champions League in September. Even to look a little higher… “When you look at their last games, the number of wins and the gaps, I think they can be in the hunt for the title” , released Patrick Vieira on Tuesday. Intractable defensively since the resumption, United preserved their cage against Nottingham Forest, Wolverhampton and Bournemouth, before put under glass the best attack of the championship in the derby, limiting Erling Haaland’s band to five shots over 90 minutes. If the Red Devils have been braked Wednesday on the ground of Crystal Palacethey only gave in on a stratospheric free kick from Michael Olise in added time.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 19, 2023
Boosted by its four victories in five days since the resumption, United has 39 points at mid-season. It is only the third time since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson that the club have reached this total. Still in the race in four competitions, the Mancunians have above all raised their heads against the rest of the Big Five : they have ten points in five meetings with City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal this season. Already better than in the two previous years (five points in eight games in 2021-2022, eight in 2020-2021). “We look like a team nowwelcomed Bruno Fernandes at the microphone of BT Sport. A while ago, sometimes each of us only focused on ourselves. Now we can see a team where we work hard for each other. » It will have to be done even more with the suspension of the essential Casemiro. “We can achieve something this season, I’m convinced, but there is still a long way to go for Manchester United to find their place” , tempers Erik ten Hag. On this, Arsenal still has a little lead. For the moment.
By Quentin Ballue