Gameweek 12 Key Fixture: Arsenal vs Manchester United

Arsenal v Manchester United

Every week we bring you a key fixture from the Premier League. This week Arsenal and Manchester United will look to grab an edge in the battle for a Champions League place. With so much attacking talent on display, this game could have a big impact on your fantasy football team’s performance this week.

Arsenal vs Manchester United

It’s been a sluggish start to the season for both sides, as preseason title fantasies give way to the more realistic prospect of a third/ fourth place duke out at season’s end. Over a decade ago, this was the Premier League’s marquee fixture, with the storylines to match: Keane and Viera, Henry and Van Nistelrooy- these were the players and personal rivalries that made these clashes so compelling. 2014, by comparison, holds something of an identity crisis for the two clubs with both shunted out into the wilderness of the top two league positions by moneyed new forces . Wayne Rooney is the one player who bridges both these timelines and Manchester United will be looking to him more than any other to deliver them from mediocrity this season.

Last Time Around:


Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United

Recent Form:


Manchester United-WDDLW

Arsenal haven’t yet been able to string together a strong run of games and go into this fixture off a disappointing 2-1 loss to Swansea away. False dawns are a dime a dozen at the Emirates and nowhere was that more evident than in Gameweek 9 and 10, where Sanchez and co. dispatched Sunderland and Burnley with seemingly consummate ease and conviction. Looming large in the mind of Arsene Wenger- more so than middling form- is sure to be the diabolical record against his Manchester rivals over the past five years.

United have lost just once to the North Londoners since 2009 across all competitions.  Their last defeat, in fact came away in 2011: a 1-0 result for the Gunners when Robin Van Persie still plied his trade in the capital. Looking either side of that blip, the form is starkly in favour of a United victory. It’s safe to say however, that form counts for nothing given the decimated squad that Louis Van Gaal now must contend with.

Key Clashes:

Alexis Sanchez (£14.4m GW11: 1550) vs Wayne Rooney (£13.5m GW11: 850)

Both teams are experiencing an extreme pile up of injuries- a yearly occurrence for Arsenal- but a shock for Manchester United. More than ever they’ll be looking to Wayne Rooney to navigate them through these murky waters. The question is which Rooney will show up on the day? The leader of men, 100 England cap captain and soon to be record goalscorer? Or the short fused battler, prone to a booking or two? Van Gaal and United will be looking for the former. With three goals and two assists this season, Rooney has been decent without ever really hitting top gear. The opposite in fact of Alexis Sanchez, who was been praised to the hilt in these pages and with good cause. The Chilean has been revelatory in his performances and, much like Luis Suarez, absolutely hates to lose. With eight goals and two assists, the majority of Arsenal’s play will be inevitably focused through him. Whether he plays out left or up top, United will be putting the bulk of their attentions on him.

Calum Chambers (£7m GW11: 345)  vs Paddy McNair (£6.1m GW11: 1512)

Have the young pretenders been drafted into their respective sides prematurely? Perhaps, but they have done so on merit. If neither of these men possessed the skill required to play the backline at this level they wouldn’t be so trusted by their managers.  With a goal and assist and four clean sheets this season, Chambers has handled himself remarkably well; his first poor game coming last time out at Swansea in Gameweek 11. McNair meanwhile has shown ability beyond his years and natural position- a central midfielder moved back to centre half- the young Northern Irishman hasn’t had a bad game yet for the senior side. With a strong four appearances this season, McNair will be thrown in with the lions this weekend. How he handles it could shape his United future.


Final Points:

Daley Blind, Angel Di Maria and David De Gea are the latest additions to an extensive injury list at Old Trafford. De Gea and Di Maria have a chance to be fit but if they aren’t the United that take the field on Saturday will be very much an patchwork side. Will that be enough for Arsenal to capitalise? The Gunners need to get over their United hoodoo and this could be the game to do it. Granted there are weaknesses in defence, but with Welbeck and Chamberlain hitting the high notes on international duty, and Theo Walcott itching to return to the fold, the Gunners edge it as PlayON favourites.

Click here for previous key fixture articles

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