EPL game of the week: Arsenal vs. Manchester United
The English Premier League jumps right into 2020 with a large slate of matches on New Year’s Day. Arsenal and Manchester United will meet in what is normally a fierce rivalry that routinely has implications on who wins the league. This time around both teams are struggling to get back into contention for a Champions League spot, so this match will determine who will stay in the race and who will be on the outside looking in.
Arsenal has hit the skidsArsenal has really struggled lately, with only one win in its last five matches. That includes draws with Everton and Bournemouth, which is not good for a team that has aspirations of returning to the Champions League. The Gunners attack relies mostly on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has 13 goals this season. Alexandre Lacazette is second with five goals, but he really needs to get going to generate the offense that Arsenal will need.
Arsenal will need to be much better on defense. Héctor Bellerin, Sokratis, David Luiz and Calum Chambers need to improve drastically to help their team. When the Gunners give up goals, it’s a result of catastrophic defending, and that starts with the back line. The middle of the field has been a mess, and it’s the hope that new manager Mikel Arteta will be consistent with who he goes with. That would require some guys to step up and force Arteta to include their name on the team sheet every week.
Manchester United is getting healthy at the right timeThe Red Devils have also been inconsistent this season, but their front three of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood has performed well lately.
In the middle they’re starting to get key pieces back, like Paul Pogba. Andreas Pereira, Fred and Daniel James will need to be consistent on possession and keep the Gunners on their heels. Jesse Lingard, if called upon, can provide some flair in the middle, as well. David de Gea has been erratic at times in net, so the back line is going to need to be on point to give Manchester United a chance.
Prediction: Draw (+265)This match could be sloppy if both teams remain on the form they’ve exhibited recently. It will be a match that fans will want to watch, as it’s still one of the bigger rivalries in England. There will be some action on both sides of the ball, but the teams will have to settle for a 2-2 draw (+1075).