Top Trumps: Injuries gives Arsenal big advantage over Man Utd
Manchester United welcome Arsenal to Old Trafford on Sunday and will be buoyed by their 5-1 Europa League win over Midtjylland.
However, that enthusiasm is likely to wear out quickly when United fans consider the number of injuries their team has at the moment.
Louis van Gaal will have to cobble together a team despite 14 players being out, with key men David de Gea, Wayne Rooney, Anthony Martial and Chris Smalling all unavailable.
Indeed, you could make a better first 11 out of injured United players than you could of those who will be available for the visit of Arsenal.
This crisis couldn’t have come at a worse time, with title-chasing Gunners looking to increase pressure on league leaders Leicester City.
Form: Man Utd 6 / Arsenal 8
The 5-1 win in the Europa League was a rare bright spot in a less than stellar run of form for Van Gaal’s men.
In the four games preceding the triumph over the Danish side, United only won once and that was against League 1 Shrewsbury Town.
The Red Devils lost two of the games in that run, to Sunderland and Midtjylland and have been looking incredibly vulnerable.
Conversely, a 2-0 loss to the top-quality Barcelona in the Champions League aside, the Gunners have been looking strong recently.
Arsene Wenger’s men didn’t lose any of the five games before coming up against the unstoppable Catalans and won three in that run.
Defence: Man Utd 5 / Arsenal 8
With De Gea and Smalling out, United’s defence has been decimated and this is reflected in the fact that Shrewsbury are the only team not to breach the Red Devils in the last five.
Youngsters Guillermo Varela and Joe Riley look likely to start and will be in for a tough afternoon deal with Arsenal’s attacking talents.
Meanwhile, the Gunners have a strong backline marshalled by Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, while Petr Cech has finally addressed their years of goalkeeping problems.
The proof is in the Arsenal defensive pudding, with the side only letting in two goals in the five games before coming up against Barca.
Star Man: Man Utd 7 / Arsenal 9
United’s star men will mostly be in the stands for this game meaning Juan Mata will have to take on some extra responsibility.
The Spanish midfielder has been more influential since being allowed to operate from a more central position, but his stats for this season aren’t overly impressive.
Mata has only managed four goals and three assists in the Premier League this season and he will need to improve his contribution if he wants to see his team take something off the Gunners.
Mesut Ozil in contrast has been outstanding for Arsenal this season, helping their Premier League title challenge with four goals and a top-flight best 17 assists.
Attack: Man Utd 7 / Arsenal 7
Despite their injury troubles, those on standby were able to step up for the Red Devils in recent games.
This was typified against Midtjylland when Marcus Rashford was rushed into the starting eleven following Anthony Martial’s injury in the warm up.
The teenager repaid Van Gaal’s faith by scoring twice and is likely to make his Premier League debut on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Gunners, despite all their other positives, haven’t been particularly prolific in front of goal in recent games, failing to score in their last two outings.
The north Londoners wasted a catalogue of chances against Barcelona leading to their loss and will need to be wary not to do so again.
Coaches: Man Utd 7 / Arsenal 8
Van Gaal and Wenger have won the exact same number of honours in their illustrious careers (19), but the Dutchman far exceeds his counterpart in league triumphs winning by seven to three.
However, their runs with their current clubs is what gives the Frenchman the advantage.
LVG is a less than popular figure at Old Trafford, with fans criticising his style of play, while Wenger is undoubtedly a legend with the north Londoners.
Totals: Man Utd 32 / Arsenal 40
Clearly the Gunners have the advantage and based off of our Top Trumps it would be wise to back them at 7/5 to emerge victorious.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.