Manchester United vs ArsenalEnglish Premier League, KO: 20:00 Sep 30, 2019, Old Trafford
THE heat is well and truly on for the Red Devils after their capitulation at West Ham last weekend was followed by the embarrassment of sneaking past Rochdale on penalties in the League Cup.
Former skipper Roy Keane admitted the 2-0 defeat in London left him “saddened and shocked” and claimed it was “scary” how far the club had fallen since the Alex Ferguson era.
Jose Mourinho also ripped into United from the Sky Sports sofa, insisting it would be a struggle for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side to finish in the top six, never mind challenge for a Champions League place.
The Special One claimed earlier this year that leading the club to second place two seasons ago was one of the greatest achievements of his trophy-laden career, considering the chaos that was raging behind the scenes.
At the time it seemed like just another soundbite from a man who loves to listen to his own voice but Mourinho's assertion is now ringing true.
The cup tie with Rochdale should have given United the chance to boost their confidence ahead by getting back among the goals after a troubled time.
But instead they came within seconds of disaster, coughing up an equaliser to 16-year-old Luke Matheson before squirming through on spot-kicks at Old Trafford.
I actually thought Solskjaer had made some shrewd signings in the summer, solving two problem positions at the back by splashing out on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire while adding some flair on the flanks with exciting youngster Daniel James.
And United made me some money when I backed them to beat Frank Lampard's new-look Chelsea side on the opening day, romping to a 4-0 win at Old Trafford.
But Solskjaer allowed Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to leave without reinforcing his attack and the failure to sign a top-class midfielder left United relying on Paul Pogba for inspiration.
With the Frenchman injured last weekend his absence was felt in the engine room where Mark Noble and Declan Rice totally bossed Nemanja Vidic and Scott McTominay.
Thankfully for Solskjaer, Pogba finally returned from injury against Rochdale and he managed to shake off an ankle knock to start against the Gunners.
I tipped the Hammers to beat United with Pogba and some other key players missing and that's how it panned out. To add to Solskjaer's woes, striker Marcus Rashford picked up an injury that is looked set to sideline him for a fortnight. However, he was surprisingly named in the starting line-up against Arsenal after making a speedy recovery.
But I still don't fancy the Red Devils against a Gunners side who have picked up a bit of form since a calamitous collapse saw them blow a two-goal lead in the 2-2 draw at Watford.
I thought the Arsenal might lose in the Europa League against Eintracht Frankfurt but instead they coasted to a 3-0 win before following that up with a battling 3-2 win over Aston Villa despite going down to 10 men.
A 5-0 thumping of Nottingham Forest duly followed in the League Cup and suddenly there's a bit of optimism around the Emirates, especially with full-backs Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney returning from injury in that cup tie, although neither is likely to feature here.
Arsenal have gone five games unbeaten since losing to Liverpool at the end of August so I'm tempted to back the Gunners for an Old Trafford win at 43/20 with Unibet. If you want to play it a bit safer then Unai Emery's side are 7/10 with Marathonbet in the double chance market, which pays for a Gunners win or a draw.
Both teams to score seems a logical choice, given it has come up in all but one of Arsenal's games in the Premier League so far this season, but the odds are poor at a best 14/25 with Marathonbet.
United haven't scored over one goal in any game since that romp against Chelsea on the opening day so plenty of punters will be tempted to back under 1.5 goals for the Red Devils. However, the odds are still poor, at 89/100 with Marathonbet, and Arsenal's defence continues to look a bit shambolic so I'm staying clear of that one.
Games between these two have been pretty entertaining in recent years, with their last 12 meetings seeing two goals or more. But the odds aren't great yet again with over 2.5 strikes a best 11/17 with RedZone. Given United's troubles up front, I'm more inclined to go with under 2.5 goals which is 27/20 with 888Sport.
I flagged up Ashley Young as weak link for United at left-back ahead of the West Ham game and made a tidy profit backing his direct opponent, Andriy Yarmolenko, to get on the scoresheet. This time Young should be up against £73million man Nicolas Pepe, unless Luke Shaw makes an unlikely return from injury.
Young has copped two bookings in five games this season and that makes me tend towards another here, which looks overpriced at 5/2 with Unibet. Pepe is 9/4 with the same firm to get on the scoresheet which also appeals while United's best bet for a goal could be Welsh winger James who is 33/10.
This English Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal will be played on Sep 30, 2019 and kick off at 20:00