Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho are far from the best of friends and the Frenchman has never beaten his counterpart, which adds an extra dimension to one of the Premier League’s most intense competitive rivals.
On few occasions though has it been the case that both sides are fighting to keep their hopes of European football alive, as both sides battle to retain any hope of a top four finish offering them Champions League football, though both look set to be forced to settle for a place in the top six instead.
A draw will do neither side any favours, but neither side can afford to drop points either.
However, their humiliation on their last visit to White Hart Lane last weekend demolished any progress that was made and will mean that a number of heads will be down going into this clash at the Emirates, even though they are on a run of four games unbeaten at home.
Manchester United‘s record breaking run of 25 games unbeaten in the Premier League could be extended at the Emirates and may even end their run of draws after being forced to share a point in both of their last two outings, against Manchester City and Swansea.
Following on from Thursday night’s Europa League clash with Celta Vigo, one eye may be distracted on their European competition as they seek to secure a path to the final in the second leg.
Granit Xhaka’s absence will open the door for Francis Coquelin to return to midfield with Arsene Wenger likely to stick with his 3-4-2-1 formation despite a disappointing result against Tottenham last weekend using the same formation and system.
Predicting Jose Mourinho’s team could be anybody’s guess. The manager has said he could rest a number of key first team players as he looks to secure a place in the Europa League final, which may mean that Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba could be rested as they manage injuries, with Chris Smalling potentially making a return.
Arsene Wenger has officially ruled midfielder Granit Xhaka out of contention with an ankle injury, whilst Shkodran Mustafi is also not expected to make a return to first team action for another week at least, despite having resumed training individually.
David Ospina could make the bench again after his return last weekend, but Lucas Perez remains too far away from taking up a place on the bench. Santi Cazorla has been ruled out for the season.
Eric Bailly should be fit enough to feature having returned in midweek against Celta Vigo, with that also likely to apply for Paul Pogba.
Juan Mata should also be available after his comeback, but it is unclear whether or not Chris Smalling will be available from the start after he took up a place on the substitutes bench on Thursday.
Phil Jones could also return to the 18 man squad. Marouane Fellaini will serve the next game of his suspension for a red card against Manchester City, with Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic out until 2018.
Match Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United
United could rest a number of key figures with their Europa League second leg next Thursday clearly the priority, but Arsenal’s mental fragility has cost them up against big challenges so far this season.
United will be desperate not to surrender their unbeaten streak and need points to secure a top four finish, so they may look to eek out a draw.
One winner, one loser from Arsenal’s loss to Chelsea
Unai Emery has a lot of work to do with his new side.
Arsenal‘s start to 2018-19 has proven to be extremely difficult, as the Gunners have lost both of their opening matches under Unai Emery.
The fixture list was cruel to the North London side, throwing up games against Manchester City and Chelsea, and the Gunners have been left empty-handed despite showing fight in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to the Blues.
Maurizio Sarri’s side raced into a two-goal lead in the first half but were pegged back by Arsenal, before Marcos Alonso’s last strike ensured the Blues kept all three points in West London. Here, we have identified one winner and one loser from the Gunners’ squad.
Winner: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Regularly criticised during his time at Manchester United for a perceived failure to perform in big matches, Henrikh Mkhitaryan showed that is not a problem at Arsenal with a superb individual performance against Chelsea.
The Armenia international bounced back from a shocking miss, blazing over the bar with the goal at his mercy, to pull the Gunners back into the match with the first goal under Emery’s regime before then turning provider for Alex Iwobi’s equaliser.
Mkhitaryan certainly has a long way to go until he fully fills the void that Alexis Sanchez’s departure in January left but the early signs under a new boss are promising, building upon a solid first few months at the club from last season.
Loser: Mesut Ozil
Entering the campaign on the back of a tough summer, where Mesut Ozil embarked on a war of words with Germany’s Football Association and at least temporarily closed the door towards further international football after the World Cup.
Ozil found support from Arsenal on social media but it is clear his head is not quite where it needs to be at the moment, as he endured another tough test against Chelsea. Although not as bad as social media will have you believe, the World Cup winner is certainly far from his best.
Clearly low on confidence, Ozil needs a solid performance to get him back to his highest level and needs his team-mates to rally around him in the coming weeks.
Three key takeaways from Emery’s Arsenal press conference
Emery is searching for his first win as Arsenal boss.
Pep Guardiola’s defending champions secured a 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium, leaving Arsenal seeking to avoid back-to-back defeats at the start of Emery’s tenure – a tough challenge as the Gunners have not won at Stamford Bridge in the league since 2011.
Ahead of the fierce London derby, we have identified three key takeaways from Emery’s pre-match press conference.
Cech starts again
One of the big talking points, when the team was selected ahead of the game against Manchester City, was the fact that Petr Cech got the nod ahead of summer signing Bernd Leno – and it seems there will be no changes in that aspect for the trip to Chelsea.
Emery’s comments suggest that Cech’s Premier League experience gives the veteran stopper the edge of Leno and the Germany international will have to continue to wait for his competitive debut for the Gunners.
“I am happy with Petr Cech’s performance and he has lots of quality and experience. For Saturday, the decision for me is easy. Petr Cech can continue to start the match, I believe in him. If [in the future] Bernd starts, I believe in him also.”
While Arsenal suffered defeat against Manchester City, there were aspects of the Gunners performance that caught the eye and Unai Emery wants that momentum to continue in the trip across London to face Chelsea.
It seems Arsenal will not change their set-up for the match away from home but Emery is keen to ensure his side continue to play with the right pace, personality and mentality at Stamford Bridge – where they have the chance to make a statement of intent.
“When we are going to play away I want us to keep our personality and mentality because I think against Man City on Sunday, when we were losing, we kept our speed in the game. I want us to continue that and be competitive in 90 minutes and produce a better performance that Sunday.”
Big game improvements
It’s no secret that Arsenal have struggled in recent years against their ‘big six’ rivals and history at Stamford Bridge is not on their favour. Therefore, it’s clear that the Gunners need to improve in this area – and Unai Emery is aware of that.
The Spaniard’s comments do not necessarily address the latter years under Arsene Wenger but they might as well have. Emery has shown he can play the game in the press conferences but he now needs his side to improve their form on the field.
“We wanted to start well against a great team like Manchester City in front of our fans, but we lost. The result is very big, but it’s also important the way we achieve that. The difficulty is clear but I believe in our players and we need to improve in the biggest games. We lost the first game but I do not want to change our mentality.”
Arsenal fans want Emery to sell Granit Xhaka after Man City loss
Fans are demanding Arsenal sell Xhaka in the next two weeks.
Arsenal fans have made it clear throughout the history of the internet they need someone to be angry at and Granit Xhaka has inherited the crown.
With Arsene Wenger finally out, the Switzerland international has followed the likes of Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott as Arsenal’s weekly scapegoat, a title that is tough to shake, and his performance against Manchester City did not help matters.
Poor on the ball and struggling to cope with the Citizens’ quota of stars, fans on social media quickly flocked to criticism the midfielder and demand that Unai Emery sells the former Borussia Monchengladbach man ASAP.
With Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira amongst Emery’s summer acquisitions, Xhaka has plenty of competition for his role in midfield and many fans have made it clear they don’t want to see Xhaka wear the Arsenal shirt once again.
Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen and, a few months down the line, another scapegoat may have been identified. For now, it’s best Xhaka avoids logging onto Twitter…
Xhaka never has been and never will be good enough for Arsenal FC.
— Amy AFC (@newmanqueen1) August 12, 2018
Can we sell Xhaka? @arsenal
— napolean dynamite (@BennySumerY) August 12, 2018
Xhaka looks like the inexperienced youngster and Guendouzi is carrying his dumbass through this game.
— WH (@Wilshoholic) August 12, 2018
— Charles Wilman (@Khaosan05) August 12, 2018
He’s absolute bang average!! Not worthy of the @Arsenal shirt!
— ArsenalTheSinkingShip (@Shell_DonG) August 12, 2018
Hopefully the last time we see Xhaka play for the club.
— MW (@mediocentroEN) August 12, 2018
Yes, Guendouzi has made mistakes but he is meant to be playing with experienced pro's such as Cech, Mustafi and Xhaka yet he seems to be the leader out of them all. Embarrassing.
— Mitch (@MHaywxrd) August 12, 2018
Xhaka is genuinely the worst midfielder I've seen in 25 years at Arsenal. Slow, indecisive, positionally abject, constantly invites pressure on to the team and excels at literally nothing
— Exiled Expat (@ComradeNuts) August 12, 2018
2 weeks to get rid of Xhaka, come on Arsenal unload him please!
— Gooner Rumour (@GoonerRumour) August 13, 2018
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