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Arsenal vs Manchester United: Three pre-match thoughts (Premier League)



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Manchester United will travel to the Emirates on Sunday as they lock horns with Arsenal ahead of the upcoming international break.

Manchester United staged a comeback to win against Nottingham Forest last week as they returned to winning ways in the Premier League. The Reds will face their biggest test at the Emirates on Sunday against last year’s runner-up Arsenal.

The Reds made some crucial signings on the transfer deadline day as United confirmed several transfers. Veteran defender Jonny Evans signed a season-long deal with Sergi Reguilon joining in the team on loan from Tottenham Hotspurs. Erik ten Hag also confirmed the signing of sough-after midfielder Sofyan Amrabat at the eleventh hour on the deadline day.

Read More: Debuts expected? Manchester United predicted XI to face Arsenal (Premier League)

With several key players still out of the fixture due to injuries, Ten Hag will hope to go into the international break with two successive Premier League wins.

Here are a few things to look out for ahead of the game:

#1- Will Rasmus Højlund start?

At the pre-match press conference, Ten Hag confirmed that Rasmus Højlund is available for selection against Arsenal. The Dane missed the previous three games due to an injury and will surely make his debut at the Emirates. However, it is to be seen whether the youngster is named in the starting XI or comes off the bench.

Manchester United have struggled to find the net this season. Despite scoring four goals in three games, the Reds have shown signs of vulnerability in front of the opposition’s goal, having collected an xG of 7.4. All four of United’s goals have been scored by either a defender or a midfielder.

With Hojlund becoming available for selection, Ten Hag might just start ahead of Anthony Martial especially after the Frenchman dropped such a stinker against Forest.

#2 – Can the midfield duo of Casemiro and Eriksen handle the Rice-Partey-Odegaard midfield?

In this year’s campaign, United have struggled in winning the midfield battle. Casemiro has been in mixed form and Mason Mount’s failure to contribute in defence exposed United’s midfield a few times during their matches against Wolves and Spurs. However, Christian Eriksen partnered up with Casemiro against Forest and strengthened United’s midfield against Forest.

However, the Casemiro- Eriksen duo might face difficulties in battling against a physical midfield duo of Declan Rice and Thomas Partey. Casemiro has lost possession of the ball more than 30 times in the league so far. Rice will be hoping to capitalize on this weakness.

The Brit won the most number of possessions in the 2022-23 Premier League and has also improved Arsenal’s ball-winning potential. Partey also complements Rice well as the duo ranks very high in the league in winning possession in the midfield.

Besides the defensive attributes of the duo, Rice is also one of the league’s best progressive passers. Arsenal’s captain, Odegaard also ranked No. 1 in most progressive passes in the league during 2022-23 with Bruno Fernandes following him closely.

#3 – Can Marcus Rashford finally find the back of the net?

Marcus Rashford, United’s leading goal scorer from last year has yet to score a goal this season. The Mancunian played as the striker in the first two games and did not pose any threat to the opposition. However, the Englishman returned to his preferred left wing against Forest last week and not only did he play much better, but also provided the assist to Eriksen’s goal and won the penalty for United.

With Martial and Hojlund’s availability, Rashford is set to retain his place on the left wing. He opened the scoring for United against Arsenal last year at the Emirates. And fans’ hopes are pinned on him to find his mojo back and bring his goal-scoring boots in Sunday’s mouth-watering clash against Arsenal.