By Neil Leverett and Niall Clarke
- Arsenal and Manchester clash in huge top four clash at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, in game of the week
- Chelsea entertain Wolverhampton Wanderers with the visitors looking for a top six finish
- Southampton look to pull clear of the bottom three at home to UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists Tottenham Hotspur
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – After their midweek European heroics, Manchester United travel to top four rivals Arsenal in game of the week at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
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Game of the Week: Arsenal vs Manchester United (Sunday, 16:30)
Niall: It was a thrilling match in Paris as Manchester United did what seemed impossible and overturned a 2-0 deficit to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The result was met with jubilation from the United faithful, and it went a long way towards showing how special the competition can be – especially for the Red Devils.
It is a feeling that both United and Arsenal fans will want to experienced next season and in order to do that they need to secure a top four position. The old rivals meet again at the Emirates Stadium in a crucial match in the race for a Champions League place, and it could be another thrilling contest.
The Red Devils are still riding high under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and with him at the wheel it seems like the only destination is forward. United have already gotten a win over the Gunners in the FA Cup and a repeat performance will see them move four points clear of Arsenal.
Unai Emery’s men will be itching to avenge the FA Cup defeat where they were caught on the counter attack numerous times in that 3-1 defeat. They will have to be a more solid defensive unit if they are to overcome Manchester United and be more ruthless when they do attack than they were in January.
This fixture rarely fails to entertain and with two managers that like to play a positive brand of football we should be treated to some goals on Sunday. I think we will see an improved Arsenal than the one that we saw in the FA Cup a few weeks ago, but with United riding the highs of their Champions League performance they could sneak through this one and boost their top four chances.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
Neil: It truly was a remarkable night in Paris in midweek, but in truth how Paris Saint-Germain did not progress is extraordinary in itself. Putting European events to one side this weekend however, even if United do not go all the way and book their place in next season’s competition, the visitors could take a big step in finishing top four in May.
They face an Arsenal side who were denied a north London derby victory via two separate penalties – both of which went the way of Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. The Gunners will still be burning from what would have been a huge win, but here they can rectify matters.
Emery’s men will be especially keen to not only avenge their cup defeat, but to finally put and end to United’s unbeaten streak under their new Norwegian steward who has completely transformed the club’s season.
One man who will be keener than most this weekend will be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who missed the stoppage time penalty last Saturday, but who netted when the two sides met in the cup. The Gunners’ hitman has been in prolific form this term and the Gabonese will want to help the home fans forget for his fluffing of his lines last time out.
As Niall states, this will surely bring goals again and just as Solskjaer in his heyday up front for United and who terrorised Arsenal frequently, I rather fancy another tight scoreline, but one that should a read a few goals into the bargain. As it is, I am plumping for a score draw.
Prediction Arsenal 2-2 Manchester United
Niall’s One to Watch: Southampton vs Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday, 17:30)
The focus on the top four battle continues as Tottenham face a difficult trip to Southampton in my one to watch for this gameweek. After going three games without a win in the Premier League, Tottenham have gone from title challengers to fighting for their top four position in a matter of weeks. Their current predicament means that a win away at Southampton is a must or they could see themselves level on points with Manchester United come Sunday teatime.
That will not come easy though as the Saints are coming into this game off the back off a good performance in a losing effort against at Old Trafford. They were unlucky to come away from that match empty handed, and they now sit only two points off the drop zone.
With Spurs getting a big win against Borussia Dortmund in midweek, their confidence may be restored after a rough patch. Harry Kane may not be back but is firing which is a huge boost for Mauricio Pochettino heading into the last leg of the season. It will be a close match as a trip to St. Mary’s is not easy, but I think Tottenham will edge their way back into the win column.
Prediction: Southampton 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Neil’s One to Watch: Chelsea vs Wolverhampton Wanderers (Sunday, 14:05)
As pre-cursor to Sunday’s Premier League main event, Chelsea host Wolves in what could just steal the show completely at Stamford Bridge. Whilst the Blues will be coming into this after Thursday evening’s Europa League game with Dynamo Kyiv, the visitors sit in seventh and seven points their opponents here.
Maurizio Sarri’s men edged to a nervous west London derby win at Fulham this week, but any similar anxieties will need to be erased as the high-flying men from the Black Country roll into the capital.
Having rested a number of first-teamers last weekend against Cardiff City also, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men will be refreshed and raring to go here, as the visitors go in search of catching the Blues and achieving a unlikely European berth for ‘Uncle Jorge’s’ troops next season.
Chelsea certainly did not lack bite offensively at Craven Cottage last time out, but at the back they remain shaky – far from their imperious best in the early months of the campaign. That is sure to be tested here against roaming full-backs and a striker in Raul Jimenez looking extremely dangerous with the ball, not to mention the counter-attacking threat posed by Diogo Jota.
To get the result here the Blues might need to employ a little more caution than of late, but I don’t believe they can do that and that could play handsomely into Wolves’ hands. Do I think they’ll win and record a league double? I can’t see it, but I will predict a share of the spoils.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Premier League game of the week sees Arsenal host Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon
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