Arsenal vs Man United: Mourinho magic needed to keep title challenge intact

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Manchester United make the trip to North London on Saturday evening to renew the most-significant rivalry of the Premier League era, against Arsenal.

Both sides will be looking to build on positive results in midweek as they attempt to keep tabs on runaway leaders Manchester City at the top of the table.

Much has been made this season of United manager Jose Mourinho’s tactics in games against top-six opponents and weather his traditionally cautious approach is paying the same dividends it did for him during his Chelsea tenure.

The discussion seems to at least have provoked a response from the Portuguese, as his Red Devils side offered a more-expansive outlook when they made the trip to Stamford Bridge a month ago.

Nevertheless Mourinho’s track record sees the draw as short as 9/4. Home advantage puts the Gunners as slight favourites at 6/4 for those using 2018 Betfair promotions to gamble.

Aside from his overall tactical approach , the biggest question facing the United boss is what to do about the misfiring Romelu Lukaku, who has suffered a dramatic downturn in form since his phenomenal start to life in Manchester.

With last season’s talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic now fit again, the Belgian’s place can be openly questioned.

The Swedish veteran has yet to start since his return to fitness but could well be in line to lead the attack at the Emirates Stadium where United will require a target man to hold up play and bully the Arsenal backline.

Interestingly there is little separating the pair in the first goal scorer market, with both men at 9/2, even though only one is likely to start.

Mourinho will also be sweating on the fitness of midfield anchor Nemanja Matic, who picked up a knock at Watford on Tuesday.

Arsenal meanwhile, are in such a positive vein of form that Arsene Wenger is likely to start with the same side that crushed Huddersfield 5-0 on Wednesday and the back three of Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal, which has kept three consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League.

The absence of Alexandre Lacazette through injury should mean only one enforced change, with Danny Welbeck a likely contender to lead the line. The former Manchester United forward is 5/1 to net first against his old club.

Key to the outcome of the match is likely to be the impact, or lack of it, from Mesut Ozil. The schemer has been in scintillating form in recent weeks and must take credit for his side’s rise into fourth place.

United will hope Matic is fit to limit the German’s influence, with a victory of any kind in London another statement to show that Mourinho’s men mean business this season.

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