The New Year gets underway in style as Arsenal and Manchester United renew hostilities with the latest chapter in arguably the most enduring and defining rivalry of the Premier League era.
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There is no getting away from the fact that fixtures between Arsenal and Manchester United are a far cry from their heyday, but in Mikel Arteta and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there are now two men in charge who know all about this contest.
Just one point from his opening two games is not the return Arteta would have wanted, but the displays have been encouraging and the players appear to have bought into his demand for a greater work ethic and structure.
The wait for a victory at the Emirates now stretches back seven games to October – their longest streak since 1995 – and only five teams have picked up fewer points in front of their own fans in the league this season.
All of that has contributed to Arsenal beginning 2020 in 12th place and just six points clear of the relegation zone, with 11 points separating them from the final Champions League spot despite those above them also having struggled for consistency this season.
United have at least been better than Arsenal this season, and they ended 2019 in promising fashion with wins over Newcastle United and Burnley helping to make up for their shock defeat at Watford just before Christmas.
Consistency has been a major issue for the Red Devils and they have not won three consecutive league games for almost a year, but they have also only lost one of their last nine matches and have been beaten the same number of times as champions Manchester City this term.
The Red Devils have a difficult start to the New Year with Arsenal, Wolverhampton Wanderers twice, Man City twice, Liverpool and Chelsea to come in their first nine games of 2020, although it is those matches which have showcased the best of Solskjaer’s side so far this season.
Right now this trip to the Emirates looks like the easiest of the lot, although they will expect Arsenal to be much better than they have been for the most part in front of their own fans this season as Arteta once again goes in search of his first win.
Arsenal’s injury worries grew when Calum Chambers limped off in the first half against Chelsea, with the defender set for another extended spell on the sidelines with a knee problem.
Speculation is rife that Granit Xhaka could be on his way out of Arsenal during the January transfer window, but the midfielder is expected to be in contention for this one having missed the Chelsea defeat with illness.
The former skipper is one of a number of players who will be assessed ahead of the game, with Dani Ceballos, Gabriel Martinelli, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding all closing in on returns from injury.
Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney are longer-term absentees, though, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos is unlikely to feature having sustained concussion less than a week ago.
United also have a number of players who are in the final stages of recovery, although this match is expected to come too soon for Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
Scott McTominay remains sidelined with a knee injury, but Paul Pogba could return to the fold after sitting out of the win over Burnley.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard will also be hopeful of recalls, although Solskjaer is unlikely to break up the in-form attacking duo of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.