Manchester United’s battles with Arsenal may not have the same sting to it as it did during the late 1990s or early 2000s but their encounters still attract worldwide attention.
United host Arsenal on Sunday afternoon at Old Trafford in the pick of this weekend’s Premier League action following their European assertions during the week.
Arsenal are looking to stop their Premier League rot while United head into the clash in very confident mood, thrashing last season’s semi-finalists RB Leipzig 5-0 in the Champions League
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at a combined XI between the two Premier League foes ahead of this weekend’s eagerly-anticipated encounter…
Manchester United battle it out with Arsenal at Old Trafford on Sunday in the Premier League
MANCHESTER UNITED VS ARSENAL COMBINED XI (4-3-3)
David De Gea
This was a tough choice first up as Bernd Leno certainly runs David de Gea close for a starting spot, but the latter just edges out the Arsenal goalkeeper due to his longevity and experience at the highest level.
While errors have crept into the game of the United and Spain goalkeeper, de Gea still produces moments of brilliance in between the sticks and has saved the Red Devils so many points down the years.
De Gea has a tough fight on his hands to keep out Dean Henderson for the No 1 spot at Old Trafford but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clearly still has full trust in his experienced goalkeeper.
Before moving onto the defence, it must be noted that Arsenal finally have a goalkeeper they can rely on in Leno after years of struggling to find a reliable No 1.
David de Gea provides the experience and leadership for Manchester United’s backline
One of the other close calls in this combined XI between Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Hector Bellerin but the United right back just pips his counterpart thanks to his stubbornness in defence.
Bellerin is better going forward than Wan-Bissaka but the latter is one of the best full backs in the world when it comes to 1 v 1 defending. The former Crystal Palace man is an old-school defender who hardly lets anyone past him.
But if he wants to turn into one of the best full backs in the game, the 22-year-old certainly needs to improve his attacking side of the game, including his deliveries into the box.
In 53 appearances for the Red Devils, Wan-Bissaka has only four assists and one goal to his name.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is one of the best full backs in football when it comes to 1 v 1 defending
England international Harry Maguire has endured a torrid start to the 2020-21 campaign but he has shown glimpses that he is returning to his best form.
Maguire, who provides that leadership at the back, has helped United keep clean sheets in their last two games against Leipzig and Chelsea while netting in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle.
David Luiz on recent form would have given Maguire a run for his money after impressing in Arsenal’s backline under Mikel Arteta ever since his horror show away at Manchester City when the Premier League season restarted last term.
But an injury to his thigh has ruled him out for a few weeks and he will be a big absence for the Gunners on Sunday at Old Trafford.
Harry Maguire endured a horrid start to the term but he is showing signs he is returning to form
Gabriel has slotted in ever so smoothly into the heart of the Arsenal defence following his £27million arrival from Ligue 1 outfit Lille in the summer.
Despite only just joining and not having a grasp of the English language yet, Gabriel looks the real deal and has been Arsenal’s player of the season so far.
The 22-year-old has shown real authority, leadership and the strength which the Gunners have sorely lacked in years gone by in defence.
Arteta will be counting on the Brazilian to produce another big display at the back against United if they want to end their poor form in the Premier League.
Gabriel Magalhaes has slotted seamlessly into the heart of the Arsenal backline
It was a slow start to life in north London for Kieran Tierney due to injuries and settling into a completely new environment after leaving boyhood club Celtic in the summer of 2019.
But after overcoming his early injury problems, the Scotland international has not looked back and will be a really key player in Arsenal’s defence in the future if he can keep fit.
Tierney is a no-nonsense defender who puts defence first but he also provides a real threat going forward with his bursting runs.
And when he receives the ball down the left, you can always rely on Tierney to whip in a fierce delivery into the penalty area for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Co to feed off. One of the first names on the Gunners teamsheet.
Kieran Tierney is one of the first names on the teamsheet for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
When Arsenal announced the deadline day signing of Thomas Partey from Atletico Madrid in a £45m deal, many fans and pundits immediately questioned why United weren’t in for the Ghanaian midfielder.
Partey is still adapting to his new surroundings but he will be a key star for Arteta going forward, providing a completely new dimension to the Arsenal midfield thanks to his combative and box-to-box nature.
Arsenal have been far too laboured in midfield in recent seasons but Partey’s fresh approach should add much-needed strength, bite and power in the middle of the pitch.
Partey has only featured three times for the Gunners since his arrival but he already looks like the real deal.
Thomas Partey will have a big future at Arsenal after arriving from Atletico Madrid for £45m
Playing slightly further forward than Partey in this midfield is Bruno Fernandes, who has completely changed United’s mentality since his £68 move from Sporting Lisbon in January.
Fernandes has had a huge impact on his United team-mates and his stats speak for themselves at Old Trafford, playing a key role in guiding the Red Devils to a Champions League place at the end of last season.
The Portugal international, who won back-to-back Premier League Player of the Month awards immediately after joining, has an incredible 16 goals and 12 assists in just 30 appearances.
Fernandes is the first name on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s teamsheet and he has emerged as the leader United have desperately craved in recent years.
Bruno Fernandes has changed United’s mentality following his arrival in January this year
While he has been used as an impact substitute in recent matches by Solskjaer, Paul Pogba earns a place in this combined XI, adding that drive and creativity in between the lines.
Solskjaer has found it difficult to appease both Fernandes and Pogba in the same midfield since the former’s arrival but there is no doubt that the 2018 World Cup winner can still make a huge difference for United.
On his day, Pogba has the flair and power to unlock opposition defences with ease while he has the legs to provide cover when his side are under pressure.
If Solskjaer can somehow find the right formation to suit both his star midfielders, he can certainly still prove a huge difference for United going forward.
Paul Pogba has been used as an impact sub of late but can still make a big difference for United
He may only be 19 years of age but already Mason Greenwood has shown he can be United’s main man for many years to come thanks to his exceptional finishing prowess.
England international Greenwood has had his professionalism questioned in recent times but if he can let his football do the talking, then he is in for some future at the top of the game.
If you give him a sniff of the goal, Greenwood will ruthlessly punish defences and he has shown he can do it on any stage both domestically and in Europe.
Greenwood’s ability to use both feet, his impressive dribbling and pace make him a huge threat for any opposition defender, and Solskjaer knows what a talent he has on his books.
United starlet Mason Greenwood has emerged as one of the best finishers around in Europe
Arsenal’s main man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has struggled since signing his new contract but it’s surely only a matter of time until the goals flow for him once again.
Aubameyang remains one of the deadliest strikers in world football and tying him down to a new deal was a huge statement of intent by the Gunners.
The Gabon star became the quickest Arsenal player to score 50 goals in the Premier League after just 79 appearances, surpassing the record set by club legend Thierry Henry in 83 games.
Despite being goal-shy in recent games, United will have to be at their absolute best defensively if they want to stop Aubameyang from scoring on Sunday.
The goals have dried up recently for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but his drought will end soon
While capturing the nations’ hearts for his inspirational charity work off the pitch amid the coronavirus lockdown, Marcus Rashford has continued to show just how integral he is to United’s frontline.
Rashford made the perfect impact for United in their thrashing of Leipzig on Wednesday night. After coming on with the scoreline at just 1-0, the striker netted an 18-minute hat-trick as his side ran riot late on to win 5-0.
Rashford’s consistency and brilliant work rate up top make him a nightmare for opposition defenders to deal with and he will for sure make his presence felt against Arsenal once again this weekend.
The 22-year-old already has seven goals and two assists to his name in just nine appearances so far this season in all competitions.
Marcus Rashford scored a hat-trick as United thrashed RB Leipzig 5-0 in Champions League
MANCHESTER UNITED/ARSENAL PITCHMAP
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