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EPL: Arsenal boss, Arteta names one important player ahead of Old Trafford clash

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EPL: Arsenal boss, Arteta names one important player ahead of Old Trafford clash© provided by Daily Post Nigeria

Manchester United vs Arsenal: Mikel Arteta hopes Theatre of Dreams does not create more nightmares

Old Trafford is known as the Theatre of Dreams, but for Arsenal it has so often been the stuff of nightmares.

The Gunners have won just one of their past 16 Premier League games there — and that was in 2020 when the ground was empty due to Covid.

When Arteta was growing up, he used to watch the heavyweight clashes between these two sides, such as the famous night in 2002 when Arsenal won the title at Old Trafford, thanks to Sylvain Wiltord’s goal.

But the two sides are miles apart this season. There is a 29-point gap between them in the league and, on the evidence of Crystal Palace’s resounding win over United on Monday, it is not hard to see why.

Erik ten Hag’s side have conceded 81 goals in all competitions, which is United’s highest in a season since the 1976-77 campaign.

Injuries have, undoubtedly, had an impact, and Monday’s match saw the 14th different centre-back combination Ten Hag had used this season. Casemiro and Jonny Evans were run ragged by Palace’s Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise due to a lack of pace.

Arsenal will look to do similar, although United could be boosted by the return of Lisandro Martinez, who is back in training.

The challenge for Arsenal is to park the past and focus on the present by playing the team in front of them.

This is not one of the vintage United sides who routinely beat Arsenal at Old Trafford, such as the team that infamously battered them 8-2 in 2011.

Instead, Ten Hag is fighting to prove he is the right man for the job — and he will hope that sparks a reaction from his players.

United have shown an ability to deliver in one-off games this season, most notably dumping Liverpool out of the FA Cup, and Arsenal must be wary of that.

Liverpool came unstuck by allowing United to turn the match into a chaotic affair, and that is why it is more important than ever Arteta’s side exert control on Sunday.

Control has been the buzzword of the season at Arsenal, who have moved to a style that suffocates opponents and gives them nothing to feed off.

The midfield will be key, and it is where it feels like there is the biggest mismatch between these two sides.

Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard were both nominated for the Premier League Player of the Season this week, and their ability with and without the ball would make either a worthy winner.

United, by contrast, have relied upon teenager Kobbie Mainoo to take the reins and, as excellent as he has been, it feels a huge task for him run the midfield this weekend.

History, however, has shown how anything can happen in these games.

Before that, you have to go all the way back to 2006 to find the last time Arsenal left Old Trafford with three points.

Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta hailed veteran star, Jorginho ahead of their game against Manchester United

Arsenal have a date with the Red Devils at Old Trafford on March 12.

The game is regarded as a very important one for the Gunners who are aspiring to lift the Premier League title this season.

Jorginho, who moved from Chelsea to Arsenal for €11.3 million in January 2023, signed a one-year contract extension at the Emirates this week.

He has been rotated in and out of the starting lineup since his arrival but has mostly been solid and dependable whenever called upon.

Arteta, 42, was asked about Jorginho’s importance in his plans and he replied, “He’s a very important player for all coaches because his game understanding and the way he communicates and coaches people is excellent. As a model, it’s very difficult to find someone better than him.”

Arsenal currently sit atop the Premier League standings, with 83 points in 36 games.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City sit just one point behind them, with a game in hand.

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