All eyes will be on north London this weekend as Arsenal and Manchester United meet for a blockbuster Premier League clash.
Both teams have endured tough starts to the new campaign, with the Gunners labouring to seven points from their first three matches while United suffered a dismal 2-0 loss at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
However, there is some expectation (hope?) that Mikel Arteta will revert to a more traditional lineup on Sunday and that doing so will rekindle our free-flowing football from last year – something which could pose big issues for the injury-hit visitors.
3 key battles as Arsenal host Manchester United in the Premier League
These two old foes are desperate for a statement win, and here are three key battles that may decide who gets it.
1. Declan Rice vs Casemiro
It looks like we’re primed for a titanic midfield tussle.
Despite our unconvincing launch to 2023/24, Rice has already emerged as a standout performer and is showing his class in the number six role each week – yet he could be more useful as an 8 on this occasion.
Arteta spoke in pre-season about his plans to deploy Thomas Partey and Rice together and, with Zinchenko now fit again, the Ghanaian might finally return to his regular DM berth.
This positional switch would allow Partey to continue his good defensive work and initiate our buildup play, but it also gives our record signing licence to torment Casemiro via advanced half-space positioning, where he can use his athleticism to overrun the United engine room.
After their disastrous midfield efforts in recent games, Ten Hag will surely do more to protect an isolated Casemiro at its base. However, the evidence suggests it is an area Arsenal should target.
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