CHRIS SUTTON’S BIG MATCH PREVIEW: Pressure is on Arsenal to show their ambitions against a Big Six rival… and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must decide whether Edinson Cavani or Mason Greenwood partners man of the moment Marcus Rashford
- Manchester United welcome Big Six rivals Arsenal to Old Trafford on Sunday
- Mikel Arteta must see ambition from his side as they hold a miserable record
- Lose and they will go 30 league away games without a win against the Big Six
- For Manchester United, the key question is who partners Marcus Rashford up top
If Arsenal do not beat Manchester United on Sunday, they will have gone 30 league games without winning away against a Big Six side.
Looking at their results this season, you could accuse Mikel Arteta’s team of being flat-track bullies. They beat Fulham, Sheffield United and West Ham but lost to Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester.
This is a big opportunity for Arteta. It is time Arsenal showed their ambitions.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang needs to turn his form around heading to Old Trafford on Sunday
He is likely to be shackled by Aaron Wan-Bissaka (left) who thrives in the one v one duels
With attackers like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Willian, you would expect them to be peppering opponents’ goals with efforts. But we have not seen that.
Aubameyang signed his new contract on September 15 and has not scored in the league since.
On Sunday he might find himself up against Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has been outstanding of late.
Mikel Arteta’s side must show ambition despite their miserable away record to Big Six rivals
There are countless right backs vying for a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Euros — including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker — but Wan-Bissaka is the best at defending one-on-one situations.
Neymar could not get past him for PSG last week, and he was excellent against RB Leipzig, too. Arteta could move Aubameyang to the right if the 31-year-old is having no joy on the left, and that is where United seem vulnerable.
Alex Telles has tested positive for Covid so will not play and Luke Shaw is not convincing at times and could be targeted.
Manchester United’s BAM attack of Bruno Fernandes, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford seems their best combination.
Solskjaer’s rotation has worked well these past few matches. But when those three were together on the pitch against Leipzig on Wednesday, United’s game went up a level.
Bruno Fernandes (left) must return from the start as he links brilliantly with Marcus Rashford
Fernandes excels at the tip of the diamond behind those split strikers. His first-time through ball for the first of Rashford’s three goals was evidence of his ability to see the bigger picture. But Martial is not available on Sunday, so if Solskjaer sticks with his 4-1-2-1-2 set-up he has a choice to make between Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani alongside Rashford.
I’m sure when putting pen to paper, Cavani received assurances that he would not merely be a substitute for United, like Odion Ighalo has become.
Someone of Cavani’s stature surely would not sign up to warm the bench. But Greenwood and Rashford as two willing runners could work well against an Arsenal back line which will be missing a key figure in David Luiz.
Arteta has shown he is prepared to switch between a back three and four. But his defence was exposed against Leicester last weekend when Luiz was replaced by Shkodran Mustafi, with Jamie Vardy left unmarked to head home the winner.
There can be no falling asleep on the job on Sunday, otherwise someone like Rashford can make you pay. Just ask the Government…
The big question mark is whether Edinson Cavani (left) starts alongside Rashford in attack