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Five reasons why Manchester United can beat Arsenal
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Dan Fitch
Marcus Rashford has been in deadly form for Manchester United
Marcus Rashford has been in deadly form for Manchester United

Manchester United are the only team to have beaten Arsenal in the Premier League this season and on Sunday they get the chance to do it again. 

If Erik ten Hag’s team can win at the Emirates, they will cut the eight-point gap between the sides to just five, albeit with the Gunners still holding a game in hand. 

Arsenal were held to a 0-0 draw with Newcastle in their last home match after winning their previous seven top-flight outings.

Ahead of the crucial encounter between the old enemies, we take a look at some of the reasons for the Red Devils to be positive.

Rashford form

There is no Premier League forward in better form right now than Marcus Rashford. 

After a World Cup campaign in which the 25-year-old scored three goals for England, despite having limited opportunities, he has taken his confident attitude back to his club. 

Since the domestic season resumed, the forward has scored eight goals in as many games across all competitions. This included the winning goal in the dramatic 2-1 victory against Manchester City last weekend. 

Earlier on in the season he was the key figure in United’s 3-1 win at home to Arsenal. Playing as a striker that day, the attacker set up the opening goal for Antony, before scoring twice himself.

Counter threat

Manchester United's midfield features the passing ability of Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United's midfield features the passing ability of Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes

Rashford’s first goal against Arsenal was a classic example of United’s ability to make swift transitions forward. 

Christian Eriksen received the ball in a deep position and passed it quickly to Bruno Fernandes, who from just inside his own half, played a perfect through ball to release their No10, who had the pace and composure to run through and finish. 

United only had 39% of the possession that day and, though they are far more comfortable when dominating play than when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was manager, they remain deadly on the counter. 

They only had 29% of possession in the Manchester derby on Saturday but still managed to cause chaos in transition.

Case for the defence

It is not just the forward line that has improved under Ten Hag — the defence also looks far more secure. 

Since the season returned, the Red Devils have kept five clean sheets in eight games. In the three matches in which they did concede, they limited the opposition to just one goal. 

United came close to another shutout on Wednesday when they travelled to Crystal Palace, with only a spectacular free-kick from Michael Olise in stoppage time preventing them from picking up a 1-0 win. 

This form has come despite left-back Luke Shaw often being employed as a central defender during this run. 

The England international was back in his natural position against Palace, with Rapahel Varane paired with Lisandro Martinez. 

Midfield overload

Casemiro will miss the match against Arsenal
Casemiro will miss the match against Arsenal

Casemiro picked up a booking in the 1-1 draw with the Eagles, which means he will be suspended for the visit to Arsenal. 

The Brazilian will undoubtedly be missed against Mikel Arteta’s men, but it’s worth considering that his contribution in the reverse fixture was limited to a late cameo from the bench. 

Casemiro started alongside Fred in the victory over the Citizens, with Christian Eriksen just ahead of them and Bruno Fernandes nominally employed on the right. This gave United the opportunity to pack the central midfield area with four players on occasion. 

Scott McTominay could replace the anchorman to complete a quartet that can outnumber the Gunners' three-man engine room.

Late threat

Manchester United conceded a late goal at Selhurst Park, having built a reputation as being the team that tends to score them. 

In the nine games since thedomestic season resumed, Ten Hag’s team have scored eight times in the last 15 minutes of their contests.

The Dutch coach was able to bring on Antony and Alejandro Garnacho as second-half substitutes against City and the pace and trickery of the wingers proved vital in turning that contest on its head.

Garnacho in particular is building something of a reputation as a super sub. His dribbling ability makes him the perfect addition against tiring defences and he will hope to cause the Gunners similar issues on Sunday.


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