Arsenal vs Manchester United
Marcus Rashford has shone this season, and has been in truly scintillating form since his return from the World cup out in Qatar. United may face a stern test today, but once again, Rashford is absolutely capable of landing a shot on target.
The English forward is averaging 1.24 shots on target P/90 in the league from 2.78 shots.
He’s found the target in each of his last 5 league appearances post World Cup, amassing a total of 14 efforts on target in his last 8 appearances.
Rashford shots on target in last 5 league games: 1, 2, 1, 2, 2
Arsenal meanwhile, might only be conceding 2.89 shots on target P/90, but recent form suggests that they might leave a few more gaps for United to exploit. The Gunners conceded 7 efforts on target to Tottenham, 5 to Brighton, and 4 to West Ham all in their last 4 games.
United themselves managed 6 shots on target as they played on the counter against Arsenal back in September, with Rashford contributing with 2 of those. If that’s anything to go by, then the United forward is more than capable of landing another shot on target here.
There were 6 cards in the meeting between these two back in September, and given United’s resurgence and Arsenal’s desire to maintain their lead at the top of the table, I would expect a few more to be brandished today in a fiery affair.
On the face of it, United are the team more likely to pick up the bookings. They average 2.53 cards per game, more than any other side in the league, compared to Arsenal’s 1.78.
Perhaps even more significant, is United’s inability to force cards out of their opponents. They draw just 1.21 cards per game from their opponents, signifying a lack of direct runners and pace, whereas league leaders Arsenal average 2.39 cards against per game. Direct and tricky runners such as Martinelli and Saka make a huge difference in this regard.
Hosts Arsenal have only received more cards than their opponents in 3 of their 18 games this campaign, testament to the fact that they’re often controlling proceedings with an average of 57% possession. United meanwhile, have received more cards than their opposition on 13 occasions in their 19 fixtures.
Even without the suspended Casemiro, United’s squad is littered with players capable of getting booked. McTominay, Fred, and Fernandes in the midfield average 2.57, 2.22, and 1.39 fouls P/90 respectively, whilst the likes of Shaw and Malacia at the back contribute with a further 1.75 and 2.26.
With Arsenal at home and likely to control proceedings, a number of United players could find themselves in the book as they look to break up play.
A selection that feels like it’s become somewhat of a staple for United bet builders of late.
With United likely to adopt the counter-attacking approach that served them so well against Arsenal in September, fouls are a given as they look to soak up pressure. Arsenal will control the game at the Emirates, and bruno Fernandes stands out as a likely starter who will put himself about and jump into tackles.
The Portuguese playmaker is full of bite and bark, averaging 1.29 fouls, and 2.22 tackles P/90. He’s succumbed to 5 bookings already this season, a telltale sign that he often mistimes his tackles.
The United man has committed a foul in 13 of his 18 appearances in the Premier League this season, including 6 fouls in his last 5 Premier League games. In fact, Fernandes did commit a foul the last time these two met back in September, and I would expect the same to happen again.
He’ll be up against the likes of Granit Xhaka and Martin Odegaard. The crafty midfield duo draw 1.18 and 0.88 fouls respectively and if they find themselves in pockets of space then there’s every chance that Fernandes looks to bring them down.
Corners are another area in which Arsenal should find some success based on their ability to control both possession and the pace of the game.
Arteta’s play-style suits a corner selection, and an average of 5.33 per game would evidence this.
The Gunners have hit this benchmark in 83% of their Premier League outings (15 out of 18), and have had a minimum of 4 corners in 7 of their last 8.
The pace and trickery of wide men Martinelli and Saka is certainly conducive to winning corners. The pair attempt 4.18 and 3.94 dribbles P/90 respectively, and their desire to take on their defenders down the flanks should result in Arsenal corners.
United are conceding 5.32 corners per game, and with them likely to sit back and soak up pressure there’s every chance that they concede a few more here. Ten Haag’s side have conceded a minimum of 4 corners in 68% of their fixtures (13 out of 19), and I would expect it to happen again today.
Arsenal managed 5 corners against United when they lost 3-2 at Old Trafford in November. That certainly bodes well for a team playing at home and in strong form.