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|Both Teams to Score and Total Goals
|Yes and Over 4.5
|No and Over 4.5
|Yes and Under 4.5
|No and Under 4.5
Manchester United will be looking to make a statement following Ralf Rangnick’s appointment, but Arsenal will fancy their chances of exploiting a backline that has been shaky this season.
Back both teams to score and under 4.5 goals (+125)
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Michael Carrick was appointed as Manchester United’s temporary manager following the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The club announced at that point that they were searching for an interim boss who would take charge until the end of the season, before presumably appointing a permanent head coach next summer. That seemed like a curious approach, not least because the incoming interim manager would know he was only there on a temporary basis.
Now that we know Ralf Rangnick is the man to lead United for the rest of the campaign, the move makes much more sense. While the German does have coaching experience, he has spent most of the last decade as a sporting director. He will remain at Old Trafford beyond this season in a consultancy role, and will no doubt help the club choose his successor.
Rangnick is credited with popularizing gegenpressing, a tactic that is widespread in the modern game. Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann have all been influenced by Rangnick’s thinking. He is a savvy operator who will give United the sort of on-field identity that has been conspicuous in its absence in recent years.
Rangnick has only won one trophy in his coaching career, but his job in the next few months is not necessarily to claim silverware. That would be a bonus, of course, but the first step for United is to institute a defined style of play that is progressive and in line with today’s top teams. Rangnick is more than capable of doing that.
Arsenal eased to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United last weekend and remain just outside the top four heading into this midweek round of fixtures. The Magpies, rooted to the foot of the Premier League table, posed their hosts few problems and Arsenal’s win never really looked in doubt. It was a good response to the previous weekend when Mikel Arteta’s side slumped to a 4-0 defeat by Liverpool. Arsenal could not live with the Reds’ pressing in the second half in particular and left Anfield with their tails firmly between their legs.
That loss to Liverpool means Arsenal are yet to collect a point against the top three this season, a grouping which also includes Chelsea and Manchester City. They have lost their meetings with that trio by an aggregate score of 11-0, which illustrates the gulf between Arsenal and the title contenders. That is something Arteta will be conscious of as he seeks to restore the club to its former glories in the years ahead.
This current Manchester United team is not at the level of Chelsea, Liverpool, or Manchester City, but Thursday’s game nevertheless represents an opportunity for Arsenal to make a statement of intent. They have already shown signs of progress this season: the team is younger and hungrier out of possession, and the defense has cut out some of the sloppy errors which had undermined the team in previous campaigns.
But to really show they are ready to compete for the Champions League places again, Arsenal need to start winning matches like this one. A win at Old Trafford, even against a United side in transition, would make the rest of the Premier League sit up and take notice.
The rivalry between these two teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s was unlike anything the Premier League has seen before or since. As such, Manchester United vs Arsenal will always be a highlight in the fixture calendar, even though the current iterations are not among the best teams in England.
United’s players will be keen to impress Rangnick, who will encourage his side to be proactive and take the game to Arsenal – even though he will not be on the touchline due to visa issues. It is hard to see the home team not scoring, but a clean sheet could be elusive once again.
Arsenal has only the joint-12th best-attacking record in the division, and they failed to score in their games against Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.
Yet they should be confident of breaching a United backline which is among the worst in the Premier League. Only Norwich City and Newcastle, the bottom two, have conceded more goals than the Red Devils this term. Rangnick is inheriting a team without a clean sheet at home in any competition in 2021/22. With that in mind, back both teams to score and under 4.5 goals.
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|Manchester United vs Arsenal Information
|Manchester United vs Arsenal
|Old Trafford, Manchester, England
|Thursday, 2 December 2021, 03.15 PM EST
|How to watch
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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