Arsenal are on a roll, and Manchester United are tumbling down. Both clubs were expected to have different trajectories, but here we stand with Arsenal at fourth and the Red Devils languishing at the eighth spot.
This midweek fixture becomes the first since 8th of May, 2002, that Manchester United are hosting Arsenal in a midweek encounter. In that game, Arsenal came out on top via a Sylvain Wiltord strike and clinched the 2001-02 Premier League title.
Arsenal’s splendid run of second halves
The visitors come into this match, undefeated in their last 13 Premier League games, and 18 in all competitions. The only losses Arsenal have faced so far this season were their opening games against Manchester City and Chelsea respectively.
This past Sunday, Arsenal kept that run alive with a strong win in the North London derby. They looked good value, especially in the second half, to overcome a 1-2 deficit. Superb performances from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lucas Torreira turned the tide in Arsenal’s favour.
The second-half has become a sort of Arsenal special. If games ended in the first 45 minutes, Arsenal would be winless in the league. Instead, second half-turnarounds have seen them win 11 of their 14 games.
Jose Mourinho’s typical third season syndrome?
Arsenal, by consensus, have exceeded expectations. The same cannot be said about Manchester United who are clearly underperforming. Six wins, four draws and losses has ended up in them at the eighth spot on the table. A far-cry from being runners-up last year.
That along with the constant barbs at the press and fans, are clear indicators of a third season under Mourinho. The Santiago Bernabeu saw it and Chelsea infamously finished 10th in the 2015-16 season. A loss to the Gunners might exacerbate the tension at Old Trafford. To make matters worse, Mourinho will be missing the services of Victor Lindelof.