The cross-country rivals face off on Saturday evening, in a tie that used to be about the Premier League title turning into a race for the top four.
The Gunners are currently one point ahead of United, having drawn one game more than the Red Devils, who already have three defeats to their name. The form of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck - who switched Old Trafford for the Emirates at the beginning of this season - has been vital in their race for European qualification, with defensive frailties shining through in defeats to Swansea and Chelsea.
United have had defensive problems of their own, with injuries ruling out a number of key first-team stars, resulting in Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett and Tom Thorpe making their first-team debuts in important league fixtures. Whilst goals have been free flowing for the Red Devils attacking talents, they have had to rely on goalkeeper David De Gea for a number of their points, and the departures of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra over the summer look to have cost the Manchester club the stability usually associated with them.
However, it is this defensive frailty that could cost the Red Devils on Saturday, as Arsenal will look to play upon their strengths in the key Premier League encounter.
|Goals from inside box||Conversion Rate inside box||Goals from outside box||Games|
Arsenal have scored 19 goals in their 11 Premier League games, with all of them coming from inside the box. They hold an impressive conversion rate of 26% for shots from inside the box, and it has largely been the goalscoring talents of Sanchez and Welbeck to thank. Whilst they look fragile at the back, it would be hard to bet against the Gunners from taking the lead if they get into good goalscoring positions, and United will struggle, with the majority of their goals conceded from inside the box.
|Goals Conceded inside box||Games|
Of the 14 goals conceded by the Red Devils, 12 have been from inside the box, and that tally would be higher were it not for De Gea. The club look solid when defending as a unit, but individual errors welcome breaks into the box - best shown in the 5-3 defeat by Leicester. Leonardo Ulloa and Jamie Vardy capitalised upon some remarkably infantile defending to profit in the goalscoring department, and Arsenal will be looking to do the same.
United’s defence will have to be especially wary of Arsenal this weekend, and Welbeck and Sanchez will once again prove their worth to Arsene Wenger with an emphatic display in from of goal. The midfield battle could prove to be key, and the Red Devils - who will be without Daley Blind - should be looking to shield their back-four to prevent runners breaking through into the box. If they concede the middle of the park to their North London rivals, Arsenal could well be picking up three vital points at the weekend - three points that could take them back into the top four.