The stars seem to be aligning for Premier League leaders Arsenal this season as the Gunners chase their first title since 2004, and Mikel Arteta’s charges can tighten their grip on top spot with a victory over third-placed Manchester United at The Emirates Stadium today.
United remain the only team to have blemished Arsenal’s Premier League record this season, however, shorn of Casemiro – who is the “cement between the stones” according to his manager Erik ten Hag – the Red Devils’ foundations look weaker and a collapse in London followed by a first defeat since November could be in the works.
I’ve put together an info-laden stats pack for this afternoon’s showpiece showdown below, which should equip you with everything you need to fill out your bet builder coupons. Use the data along with my Stats Pack Guide to heighten your chances of beating the bookies today.
Arsenal’s XI looks relatively simple to predict on Sunday, with Gabriel Martinelli, Martin Odegaard, Buyako Saka and Eddie Nketiah shoe-ins for places in the Gunners’ front four.
Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey will anchor midfield, while Oleksandr Zinchenko should get the nod at left back ahead of Kieran Tierney. New signing Leandro Trossard was registered in time and should be on the bench.
The biggest piece of team news concerning United revolves around Casemiro, who picked up a suspension-triggering booking against Crystal Palace in midweek and won’t play at The Emirates Stadium.
Fred or Scott McTominay will replace Casemiro in midfield, while Anthony Martial, if fully fit, should slot back in at centre forward ahead of loan signing Wout Weghorst. Luke Shaw will likely reprise his role at left back.
Arsenal have yet to concede a goal since the turn of the year, though they did allow North London rivals Tottenham to clock an xG of 1.6 against them in last weekend’s derby.
However, generally speaking, the table-toppers have excelled at both ends of the pitch this term. Pick a metric and there is every chance Arsenal rank near the top for it.
Interestingly, only five clubs have drawn more cards from opponents this season than Arsenal and given United’s sketchy disciplinary record, there could be an angle to consider in the markets. The Red Devils are priced at 8/13 to collect more cards than their hosts this afternoon.
United have been making serious strides under the instruction of Erik ten Hag, though they did look a little leggy in midweek in the second half of their draw with Crystal Palace, and 70% of the ten attempts they conceded at Selhurst Park came after the interval.
The team’s defensive organisation has vastly improved following ten Hag’s input, with United holding the league’s fourth-best xG against figures per 90, though they still don’t score enough goals at the right end. Indeed, they are the lowest-scoring outfit in the Premier League’s current top nine.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Arsenal’s formidable front four look good enough to tear holes in pretty much any Premier League defence this season, and Martinelli, Nketiah, Saka and Odegaard clocked another ten attempts between them against Tottenham last weekend.
Wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka were the only members of that quartet to register a shot on target when Arsenal lost to United at Old Trafford in September, however, and they are priced generously at 1/2 and 813 respectively to notch at least one accurate effort this afternoon.
Thomas Partey meanwhile, could be an alternative option to consider. The Ghanaian hit two and three shots in his last two Premier League runouts against Newcastle and Tottenham, and his penchant for a punt from distance makes him a potentially compelling inclusion at 5/6 to rack up two or more attempts against United.
Marcus Rashford has been peppering teams with shot after shot since the campaign kicked back into gear and his 24 attempts in eight appearances in all competitions included 14 strikes on target.
Arsenal couldn’t live with Rashford’s searing pace at Old Trafford earlier in the season and the 25-year-old seems like excellent value to hit two or more shots on target against the Gunners for the second time this term at 23/10.
Bruno Fernandes has managed to test the opposition keeper once in each of his last five outings for United and the 28-year-old also cracked one effort on target against Arsenal in September. You can add the Portuguese playmaker to your docket from the same market at 8/11 today.
Player Goals and Assists
Bukayo Saka has scored in successive fixtures for Arsenal against United and the 21-year-old’s affinity for rattling the net against the Red Devils makes him an intriguing prospect in the anytime scorer’s market at 23/10 this afternoon.
Norwegian schemer Martin Odegaard has taken his game to new levels since the club campaign kicked back into gear. The 24-year-old has posted seven goal contributions in his last five Premier League appearances and Odegaard jumps off the page at even money to notch either a goal or an assist today.
Marcus Rashford terrorized Arsenal when running off the shoulder of the last defender at Old Trafford four months ago and the homegrown United star has four goals and four assists in 10 league starts against the Gunners during his career.
Rashford has been handed odds of 17/10 to chip in with either a goal or an assist at The Emirates later on, and plumping for the wide attacker certainly makes more sense than Anthony Martial or Antony, who have scored one goal between them in their last 14 league appearances combined.
Bruno Fernandes will be aiming to score in three straight Premier League matches for the first time since February 2021 today. United’s current skipper can be backed at 7/2 to prolong his purple patch.
Arsenal controlled 60.5% possession in their 3-1 defeat to United in Manchester back in September and the pattern of today’s return fixture should be similar.
Oleksandr Zinchenko, Thomas Partey, William Saliba and Ben White dominate the Gunners’ individual passing stats for the season, and all four of those players should see plenty of the ball today.
Zinchenko catches the eye the most to play over 70 passes at 6/4, however. The 26-year-old attempted 78 and 97 passes in his last two Premier League starts against Newcastle and Tottenham.
Where United are concerned, the passing bar needs to be lowered considerably today. Christian Eriksen played more passes than any of his teammates against Arsenal in September, but even then, the Danish midfielder’s 41-pass haul was meagre by anyone’s standards.
With the Manchester giants almost certain to take on the role of counter-punchers, value in the passes market is really tough to find, so it might be wiser to give United’s players a wide berth here.
Mikel Arteta likes his forwards to be pressing machines, which is why you see a sprinkling of attackers among the club’s most carded players. Bukayo Saka falls into that category and the winger was booked at Old Trafford in September.
Saka is a solid card candidate again today at 9/2, as is defender William Saliba (16/5), who was also cautioned in Manchester last year. Elsewhere, Granit Xhaka’s foul per 90 numbers are on the rise and the hard-hitting Swiss enforcer should be right in the heat of the battle this afternoon.
Luke Shaw should have little time to rest against the harrying and hard work of England teammate Bukayo Saka today, though fouls could easily be a by-product of the latter’s enthusiasm.
Marcus Rashford likes to take up a “cheat” position on the left flank. When Ben White pushes up the pitch this afternoon, Rashford will wait to exploit the spaces behind him on the counter. If he gets the ball, William Saliba will have to move out from the centre to meet him head on. There is card potential in those sorts of scenarios.
Bruno Fernandes is United’s most-fouled player this term and the antagonistic Portuguese international should have Xhaka nibbling at his ankles in North London.
Match-Ups to watch
Bukayo Saka vs Luke Shaw
William Saliba vs Marcus Rashford
Granit Xhaka vs Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United Cards
Lisandro Martinez (11/5 to be carded) is about as no-nonsense as they come and the tough-as-nails Argentinean will try to leave Eddie Nketiah in a heap on the ground as often as possible today.
Fred (15/8) could take on the role of destroyer in compatriot Casemiro’s absence at The Emirates and having already done a fine man-marking job on Kevin de Bruyne just a week ago, the midfielder could attach himself to another key creator, Martin Odegaard, later on.
Bruno Fernandes (21/10) likes to press opposing centre-halves in most United fixtures and he could leave his mark on Gabriel when closing the ball-playing defender down.
Eddie Nketiah’s pace and movement seems to trouble most defenders and the foul magnet should be in for some special treatment from United’s Martinez today.
Erik ten Hag’s gameplan at The Emirates this afternoon is certain to include some special instructions concerning Martin Odegaard. Among those directions could be a call for kicks in the Norwegian’s direction from Fred.
Gabriel is tasked with spreading play from Arsenal’s defensive third and Bruno Fernandes will be out to disturb his rhythm today. The foul count could be high in that head-to-head.
Match-Ups to watch
Lisandro Martinez vs Eddie Nketiah
Bruno Fernandes vs Gabriel
Fred vs Martin Odegaard
My Bet Builder Picks of the Pack
I was writing up the stats pack and couldn’t help but spot some value. It’s the sort of selections you can find yourself from the numbers above, but I’ll kick you off.
Arsenal vs Manchester United
Granit Xhaka attempts 1.24 shots P/90.
He has scored 3 times against Man United.
Fred commits 2.22 fouls P/90.
Arsenal average 1.78 cards for and 2.39 cards against.
Man United average 2.53 cards for and 1.21 cards against.
Marcus Rashford averages 1.24 shots on target P/90 from 2.78 shots.
He has had 14 shots on target in previous 8 apperances, and hit two last time he faced Arsenal.