Ahead of what we anticipate to be a blockbuster fixture between Arsenal and Manchester United this weekend, we caught up with former Manchester United defender Paul Parker. Parker shared his views on the current form of this United side, the key battles on the field and United’s current left-back issue.
In this article:
- Arsenal are favourites against United
- The balance of the Manchester United midfield isn’t right
- Pellistri should be given a chance against Arsenal ahead of Antony
- United have to stop the ball getting to Saka’s feet
- Arsenal are fortunate that Nketiah loves Arsenal
Arsenal are favourites against United
Arsenal vs Manchester United stands out as one of the Premier League’s most prestigious and eagerly awaited matches. It remains the league’s marquee fixture regardless of the form exhibited by the teams at the given moment. This Sunday marks another encounter between the two sides, this time at The Emirates Stadium. Arsenal enters the game with a marginally better league record, boasting two victories and a draw. In contrast, Manchester United has stumbled with two wins but also suffered a defeat against Tottenham. Parker asserts that Arsenal holds the status of favourites for this clash, expressing concern over the lacklustre showings of the Red Devils thus far.
“Arsenal have the upper hand because they’ve got form on their side.”
“They’ve got good performances behind them whilst Manchester United haven’t had a good performance this season.”
“The first ten minutes against Forest weren’t good and they had some good fortune getting back into the game.”
“Arsenal have shown they can dig deep and Manchester United aren’t hitting the heights that a Manchester United team should be hitting.”
“Arsenal are the favourites and United will have to go to a level they haven’t shown yet if they are to get something from this game.”
“Dalot could be a weak point for United as a right footer playing left back. We’ve seen he can do a job but any work defensively on that side he can’t do it.’
The balance of the Manchester United midfield isn’t right
A significant topic of discussion concerning Manchester United revolves around the acquisition of Mason Mount and his role in Erik ten Hag’s team. Before his injury, which sidelined him for the upcoming weekend match, Mount, alongside Bruno Fernandes, had been utilised as high-pressing midfielders. This approach led to an imbalance in the midfield, leaving Casemiro, who excelled last season, vulnerable and unsupported. Parker predicts that the outcome of the midfield battle will ultimately determine the game’s result. He also anticipates Thomas Partey’s return to his natural midfield position after a period of playing as a right-back.
“Last season Casemiro would have made a difference in the fixture against Arsenal.”
‘This season Casemiro is still a player United need but they have to have the right players around him.’
“United haven’t got that balance yet. Mount hasn’t worked with Casemiro.”
“United need Fernandes to be a captain in the big games so the midfield is a big worry because there’s no consistency.”
“Eriksen, Casemiro and Fernandes are the best they’ve got. When you look at Arsenal i don’t think they will play Partey at right back. Arteta will look for a solid right back that will stay at right back.”
Pellistri should be given a chance against Arsenal ahead of Antony
Another issue that has been highlighted about ten Hag’s squad are his options out wide. The likes of Jadon Sancho and Antony have flattered to deceive and Parker says he would like to see ten Hag take a risk by starting young Uruguayan winger Facundo Pellistri against Arsenal instead of Antony.
“There’s nothing in the United team to suggest ten Hag should change the team from the Forest game.”
“I think the young boy Pellsitri should be given a chance over Antony.”
“I like him and he can go on the outside whereas antony has no end product.”
“I wouldn’t play Martial but then you’re stuck with Rashford up front. It’s a struggle.”
“When I look at the recruitment of teams outside of the top five or six and they’ve gone out and improved their teams. They can match United on their day.”
“No one fears Manchester United on the pitch. The players aren’t feared.”
United have to stop the ball getting to Saka’s feet
Adding to Manchester United’s sluggish beginning to the season, the previous week brought confirmation from the club about Shaw’s extended injury absence. As a result, Diogo Dalot was tasked with deputising at left-back in the match against Nottingham Forest last weekend. However, the prospect of a right-footed Dalot pitted against Buakyo Saka raises concerns for Parker regarding their upcoming confrontation this weekend.
“Dalot vs Saka is a mismatch but even Shaw vs Saka would be a mismatch because Shaw couldn’t deal with him at The Emirates. Shaw didn’t get near him in that game and virtually let Saka dribble at him at numerous points in the second half.”
“United will have to stop the ball getting to Saka’s feet by having someone that can protect Dalot.”
“Sancho would be better at protecting Dalot than Rashford or Garnacho.”
“The left side for United lacks consistency and the last thing United need is to be trapped in their own half defending the six yard box.”
“Martinelli vs Wan Bisakka is a contest that Wan Bissaka would win. But Arsenal have options with Trossard who can use either foot and looks to link play rather than run with the ball.”
“Wide areas are Arsenal’s strength.”
Arsenal are fortunate that Nketiah loves Arsenal
Parker also highlights Arsenal’s Hale End graduate Eddie Nketiah as a threat that could cause United issues if they aren’t attentive. Nketiah already has three goals in two league games this season and will be desperate to score against United again having done so in the clash last season.
“Nketiah is also dangerous because he can nick a goal and he does it at times when Arsenal are struggling. He’s a modern day poacher and there aren’t many of them around.”
“Arsenal are fortunate that he loves the club and so he isn’t pushing to leave.”
“I wish there was something positive I could say about Manchester United and the Arsenal fixture but there isn’t.”