Manchester United’s game against high-flying Arsenal is a make or break match for Jose Mourinho. The 53-year-old is already throwing tantrums and taking jibes at his own players, leading some to believe that his days as a top-level manager are nearing an end.
After falling to crucial defeats against Chelsea and Manchester City already this season, Mourinho desperately needs to defeat Arsene Wenger, a manager he has never been beaten by in a competitive fixture. Despite the managers head-to-head
Arsenal are undefeated in ten away matches and have won each of the last four, scoring 12 goals in the process.
They are likely to play Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Marcus Rojo, and Luke Shaw across the back; four players who will know they are not amongst their manager’s favourites.
This situation is made worse by the fact that United will look to absorb pressure and play on the counter. This patented-Mourinho tactic usually works well against the low tempo, short-passing style of Wenger’s Arsenal (hence Mourinho’s record of seven wins and six draws from 13 matches against his rival), but this season the Gunners are considerably more versatile.
This is largely because Alexis Sanchez has proved difficult to track in a floating false nine role and Mesut Ozil is re-energised after being instructed to frequently make runs in-behind the Chilean international.
To counter-attack Arsenal successfully, United will need to be fluid and cohesive in attack – something they have not achieved in a long time. Even the 3-1 win at Swansea a fortnight ago relied upon two long distance strikes and they only managed three shots on target all game.
With a shaky defence and stuttering attack, things look tough for Mourinho. If you still believe in the Portuguese manager, Manchester United to win is currently priced at 2.67*.
*Odds subject to change