United v Arsenal: Your guide to Sunday's game
United welcome one of our fiercest rivals to Old Trafford this weekend, as Arsene Wenger prepares to lead out his Arsenal team at the Theatre of Dreams for the final time. Here's everything you need to know...
Setting the scene: Securing European football for next season is firmly on the mind of both teams – with the Reds able to confirm a place in the UEFA Champions League group phase for 2018/19 with a win, while the Gunners are battling to hold off Burnley in the fight for a UEFA Europa League place.
How can I follow it? Sunday’s big match kicks off at 16:30 BST and will be broadcast live in the UK on Sky Sports. MUTV subscribers on Sky or Virgin Media, the MUTV app, or online at MUTV.com can enjoy build-up to the match from 14:30 BST on the Match Day show and listen to radio commentary of the game, before watching it in full at midnight. You can also keep up with all the action as it happens via ManUtd.com's live match blog and our official Twitter account @ManUtd.
Last time we met: Arsenal 1 United 3 Video
What’s the team news? The Reds could be without Sergio Romero again, as the goalkeeper continues his recovery from a knee injury sustained on international duty with Argentina last month. The boss could give an update on the squad in Friday’s pre-match press conference. Arsenal, meanwhile, have several players recovering from injury and a Europa League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid next week to contend with, so Wenger could be tempted to name a much-changed team on Sunday. Former United playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan is reportedly a major doubt for the game with a knee injury, but another ex-Red Danny Welbeck is available to make a return to Old Trafford. Mohamed Elneny is set to miss the rest of the season after sustaining an ankle injury, while Jack Wilshere and Sead Kolasinac are doubtful with knocks and Mesut Ozil could miss out due to illness.
How have we been doing? The Reds come into the penultimate match of the season at Old Trafford with a three-point cushion in second place in the Premier League table, having won five of our last six games in all competitions after beating Tottenham 2-1 in last weekend’s Emirates FA Cup semi-final. United will be keen to return to winning ways on home soil, however, after suffering a surprise 1-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion in our last outing at the Theatre of Dreams. Meanwhile, David De Gea will be hoping to keep his 18th clean sheet of the season in the league, as our Spanish stopper closes in on his first Golden Glove – the award for the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets in a single season in the Premier League.
What about Arsenal? Arsenal have endured a tough season by their standards and currently sit sixth in the table – 11 points behind their North London rivals Tottenham and the Champions League places. Only a win at Old Trafford, where they haven’t won in the league since 2006, would give the Gunners a mathematical chance of returning to the top-four this term with three subsequent games left to play. Wenger’s team have uncharacteristically struggled on their travels this season and, remarkably, are the only club in the top four divisions of English football yet to take a league point away from home in 2018. Despite that, they have won four of their last five matches in the Premier League and have lost just once in their last nine games, after a run of four straight defeats between February and March. But the Londoners may feel somewhat demoralised after conceding the initiative to Atletico in their Europa League semi-final by shipping a late goal to draw 1-1 in the first leg at the Emirates on Thursday night.
A reunion for Alexis… Sunday’s big game is likely to be a special one for Alexis, who will come up against his former club for the first time since joining United from Arsenal in January. The Chilean scored 80 goals in 165 appearances during a successful three-and-a-half season spell with the Gunners, whose fans should be appreciative of what he achieved at the club. Speaking to MUTV this week, Alexis admitted he is adapting to the contrasts between the clubs.
“It is very different here,” he said.
“United is a big club, to which I am still adapting, and I am looking forward to giving everything I’ve got next year and aiming to win everything there is to win.”
What’s our record like against them? Historically, it’s the Reds who have had the edge in one of English football’s oldest rivalries – having won 95, drawn 50 and lost 81 of the 226 previous meetings between the sides. In the Premier League, Sunday’s clash will be United’s 52nd meeting with Arsenal. The Reds have won 23 to Arsenal’s three, and there have been 15 draws.
What happened earlier in the season? Well, fans were treated to a Premier League classic in the reverse fixture at the start of December as the Reds ran out 3-1 winners in an epic encounter at the Emirates Stadium. The Reds raced into a two-goal lead inside 11 minutes through Antonio Valencia and Jesse Lingard, who then sealed the win with another effort in the second half after Alexandre Lacazette had pulled one back for the Gunners. It was an entertaining game which had everything, including some world-class goalkeeping from David De Gea and a controversial red card for Paul Pogba. Sunday’s match represents a chance for the Reds to complete a league double over the Gunners for the first time since the 2011/12 season, when we memorably thrashed Arsenal 8-2 at Old Trafford.
Arsene’s last stand: Arsene Wenger has been at the heart of one of the Premier League’s greatest rivalries and is set to make his last trip to Old Trafford as Arsenal manager, having announced that he is standing down after 22 years in the job. Remarkably, this will be the 60th time he’s managed Arsenal against the Reds, although he hasn’t found Old Trafford an easy place to win at – earning just five victories here in all competitions. The Reds have won 26 of our matches against Wenger’s Arsenal, drawing 15 and losing 18.
Who’s the referee? Kevin Friend will take charge of his first United game in the Premier League since our 1-1 draw with Bournemouth at Old Trafford in March 2017, although he has handled two of our FA Cup matches this term – the 2-0 wins over Derby County and Huddersfield Town respectively. The Leicestershire whistler has awarded eight penalties in his 18 Premier League matches this campaign but hasn’t dished out a single red card. Simon Bennett and Eddie Smart will run the line, with FA Cup final referee Michael Oliver appointed as the fourth official.
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Rivals Watch: Two of United’s top-four rivals, Chelsea and Liverpool, will be up against relegation-threatened opposition on Saturday, with Liverpool hosting Stoke City in the early kick-off and Chelsea visiting Swansea in the teatime game. Here’s the full fixture list:
Saturday 28 April (15:00 BST unless stated)
Liverpool v Stoke City (12:30 BST)
Burnley v Brighton & Hove Albion
Crystal Palace v Leicester City
Huddersfield Town v Everton
Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion
Southampton v Bournemouth
Swansea City v Chelsea (17:30 BST)
Sunday 29 April
West Ham United v Manchester City (14:15 BST)
Manchester United v Arsenal (16:30 BST)
Monday 30 April
Tottenham Hotspur v Watford (20:00 BST)