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EPL: Will Arsenal beat Man United?

Arsenal and Manchester United are about to clash in a Premier League encounter that could be substantially consequential in the Premier League title race.

The backdrop to the Sunday showdown is much akin to the Man United-Arsenal fixtures of the early 2000s, when the sides were regular Premier League contenders.

Manchester United sit third in the table with 39 points. Arsenal, on the other hand, are eight points clear of their Mancunian rivals at the top with a game in hand.

But they will be wary of the fact that United have the potential to reduce that gap on Sunday evening, as the Red Devils are the only team who have beaten Arsenal in the Premier League this season.

Critics and rival fans often point out that a considerable amount of matches are left to be played in the Premier League and Arsenal might very well capitulate to the mounting pressure.

However, Arsenal brushed aside all skepticism to hold on to the top spot of the Premier League since August. Even the harshest of skeptics are now slowly accepting the fact that Arsenal’s ascension to the Premier League summit has been no fluke.

Last weekend, Mikel Arteta’s side faced a daunting task.

They took a trip across the Seven Sisters Road to travel to their arch-rival Tottenham Hotspur’s newly built stadium.

The Gunners had lost in all of their previous visits to the arena since it opened its gates in 2019. Arsenal’s overall winless run away at Tottenham stretched even further; all the way back to 2015. So, returning with the full three points to maintain a sizable gap with City seemed like an overly ambitious challenge, even for the high-flying Gunners.

But, Arsenal made light work of their most bitter rivals in front of their own crowd.

They dominated possession from the start, kept the pressure around Tottenham’s box, and eventually got rewarded for it.

Hugo Lloris will not forget the mess he made to let Bukayo Saka’s shot inside the Tottenham net anytime soon. However, Arsenal would feel they deserved the lead because of the increased intensity they showed in the opposition half.

Martin Ødegaard found the bottom right corner to make it 2-0 for the Gunners, only minutes after Thomas Partey rattled the woodwork with a marvellous volley.

Manchester City have moved within five points of the top spot after a midweek 4-2 win over Spurs. However, Arsenal have played a match less than the reigning champions and will see their 8 point lead over the Citizens restored should they manage to get the better of Erik ten Hag’s side on Sunday.

Team News

Arsenal have added Leandro Trossard to the ranks as the Belgian completed a £21m move to the English capital from Brighton.

Trossard will be available for selection against Manchester United, but he is unlikely to displace Gabriel Martinelli from the starting XI against Man United.

Aaron Ramsdale was kicked on the back by a Spurs supporter after the North London derby, but the Arsenal goalkeeper will be fit to return on the pitch this weekend.

Gabriel Jesus, Reiss Nelson, and Mohamed Elneny are not in contention to be involved as they are still in rehabilitation.

Manchester United have an excellent recent record to draw inspiration from as well.

The Red Devils have won nine of their last 10 competitive matches and only a last-gasp Michael Olise freekick denied them a successive tenth.

Olise’s freekick was as good as they come as the ball sailed past a helpless David de Gea on the Man United goal. But before that, United were on the verge of picking up a crucial away win at Selhurst Park in courtesy of a Bruno Fernandes goal.

Manchester United might drop to fourth if Newcastle can win against Crystal Palace, but the fans should be happy with the progress the Red Devils have made under their new manager.

After a shaky start, the former Ajax manager has steadied the ship remarkably. They will travel to Arsenal with only two defeats in their last nine games on the road.

Ten Hag outwitted Mikel Arteta in their first tactical battle. A similar strategy might prove fruitful once again against Arsenal in their own backyard.

Manchester United will have to make do without their in-form defensive midfielder Casemiro.

He picked up his fifth yellow card of the season at Selhurst Park and will serve a one match suspension.

Jadon Sancho has rejoined training but the Arsenal game will come too soon for him. Diogo Dalot and Anthony Martial will be assessed late before

Our Prediction

Manchester United will find it difficult to anchor the midfield against a free-flowing Arsenal side, who will be playing at home.

The Gunners will also have Thomas Partey in midfield, who could not feature in the reverse fixture because of injury.

We predict a 2-1 win for Arsenal.

Kickoff: January 22, 10PM IST

Stadium: Emirates Stadium

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