United gunning for the title

arsenal previewIt has all suddenly gone very quiet. The ripple of silence is almost deafening. Similar to the reaction following an announcement that the Eurostar is delayed, no one is saying anything.

The media have put away their pens, binned their headlines and deleted their drafts. The critics have been silenced. United are top of the table (or at least were for a couple of days, until City trounced Newcastle).

The world is shocked to its core, a man who has won multiple titles and cups in multiple countries has led his team to first place in the Premier league. They couldn’t write this underdog story.

Realistically it’s about as surprising as a shooting at an American high school.

Top of the table, but facing an incredibly challenging month that begins on Sunday at the Emirates. When the season began many thought that United and Arsenal would be in each other’s shoes.

United should have been scraping for fourth after wasting all their transfer budget on a talentless teenager, whereas Arsenal were meant to be high and flying.

As is the nature of the football these things never follow the script.

However, United need to prove their title credentials this weekend in North London. Beat the Gunners and there may be talk of a title challenge.

Manchester United team news

With Luke Shaw a permanent absentee, United’s first team is almost at full strength. Michael Carrick will return to the matchday squad after missing the midweek tie with Wolfsburg.

Ander Herrera is still a doubt, but will undergo a late fitness test to determine whether he features. The young Spaniard has been key to all of United’s ties with Arsenal, so many will hope he is fit to play.

The mystery of Marcos Rojo goes on, only tomorrow’s line up will shed some light on where the Argentinian is.

Arsenal team news

Laurent Koscielny is sidelined by a hamstring injury but Olivier Giroud returns after his Champions League suspension.

Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta won’t feature because of a hamstring injury and a dead leg respectively.

Key men

There is only one man everyone is talking about in Manchester. Famous for being a total waste of money and now even better protected than Peppa Pig. Anthony Martial is what the Old Trafford faithful have been waiting for.

More than just a goal scorer, Martial has proved himself to be the heart beat of the team.

His best performance came in a match where he himself didn’t score (Sunderland at home), but his movement and attacking flair allowed the rest of the team to perform at a level that fans haven’t seen in a long time.

Another man who is currently exceeding all expectations is Chris (Mike) Smalling. The England centre-back has been described as the most improved defender in Europe at the moment and it’s hard to disagree.

Smalling has been a rock at the back and is a completely new player to the inexperienced defender who was sent off against City last year.

With Arsenal’s forward line currently struggling to click and finishing proving to be a problem, Smalling’s form should help keep United solid and shut out everything the Gunners attack with on Sunday.

Predicted starting XI

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William Dawson

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