Manchester United head to Arsenal on Friday night in a FA Cup fourth round tie that’s a match-up of two sides that saw their season trajectories change in December. Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer assumed the reigns of the team a few days before Christmas, United have won all seven.
Meanwhile Arsenal have been very up and down, as they have been unable to register back to back wins in the Premier League since their unbeaten run of 23 was ended in mid December. This weekend’s clash is brimming with storylines, so we’ll try to cover as many of them as we can, starting with the fitness/injury report and team news for each side.
Starting with the hosts, defender Hector Bellerin has now been ruled out for the rest of the season, due to a knee ligament injury that he suffered in the win over Chelsea this past weekend. It’s a crushing blow for sure, but it doesn’t appear that manager Unai Emery is keen on hitting the January transfer market in order to secure reinforcements.
Winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan could feature against his former club, as he’s back in full training. The captain of the Armenian national team had been absent for a few weeks due to a serious ankle injury.
Mkhitaryan was part of the swap deal that sent Alexis Sanchez a year ago at this time and it will be interesting to see the Chilean gets the opportunity to play against his former side.
He’s fit, but it’s just a matter of whether Solskjaer will select him or not. Which brings us to the highest paid Gunner in history, Mesut Ozil. The attacking midfielder is at full match fitness.
Will Emery select the Germany international though? If he doesn’t, what kind of point is he trying to prove to his player? It’s all a big mystery.
For United, there are some concerns about electric striker Marcus Rashford, who is really feeling it now, having scored four times in his last four games. The young English international was taken off against Brighton & Hove Albion this past weekend with what some have speculated is a knee issue.
The fact that he wasn’t spotted on the red carpet at a team event for Unicef has a considerable amount of United fans significantly concerned.
Otherwise United have no new fresh injury concerns at this moment.
Central defender Chris Smalling is still a doubt due to his foot issue. Defender Marcos Rojo and midfielder Marouane Fellaini remain long term injury absentees.
Manchester United at Arsenal FC FA Cup 4th Round FYIs
Kickoff: Friday, January 25, 755pm local, Emirates Stadium
Starting XI Predictions: Arsenal Manchester United
Odds via Betfair: Manchester United win 17/10, Draw 5/2, Arsenal win 8/5
Prediction: Manchester United 3, Arsenal 2
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.
He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.
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