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Arsene Wenger will take an Arsenal team to Old Trafford to face Manchester United for the final time on Sunday.
The Gunners boss has enjoyed some of his most iconic moments at the stadium, including numerous battles with legendary Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson. In the short term, Wenger will want to see his team arrest their awful away record since the turn of the year.
As for Manchester United, manager Jose Mourinho appears to have got the team playing well at an ideal point in the campaign. They were excellent in beating Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the FA Cup last Saturday and are well on course to secure second place in the table.
Here’s the latest team news ahead of the meeting in Manchester, all the key viewing details for the match and a preview of what to expect from one of the Premier League’s flagship contests.
Manchester United: After their excellent win over Spurs, Mourinho is likely to stick with the same team that triumphed that day. The system was able to get the best out of key men Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba.
Likely XI: David De Gea: Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young; Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba; Jesse Lingard, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal: Given this fixture with United is sandwiched by the two UEFA Europa League semi-finals matches against Atletico Madrid, changes are surely on the cards for the Gunners. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is cup-tied, should be the most notable returnee; former United man Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a doubt,
Likely XI: Petr Cech; Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac; Granit Xhaka, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey; Danny Welbeck, Alex Iwobi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Date: Sunday, April 29
Time: 4:30 p.m. (BST), 11:30 a.m. (ET)
TV Info: Sky Sports Football (UK), NBC Sports (U.S.)
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There’s been a massive outpouring of appreciation for Wenger since he announced this season would be his last with the Gunners. However, you get the impression United supporters and Red Devils manager Mourinho won’t roll out the red carpet for him on Sunday.
After all, Wenger has had some intense battles with United and Mourinho down the years. The Frenchman famously saw his side clinch the Premier League title at the Theatre of Dreams in 2002 thanks to a goal from Sylvain Wiltord.
Still, the UtdHQ Twitter account suggested some respect will be shown by the home supporters:
All joking aside when Arsenal come to Old Trafford on the 29th April i’m pretty sure Arsene Wenger will get a standing ovation
It’ll be interesting to see what goes on on the sidelines between the Arsenal boss and Mourinho, as the pair have never seen eye-to-eye throughout their careers.
Mourinho memorable called Wenger a “specialist in failure” in 2014 when he was the Chelsea manager. However, as relayed by Oliver Holt of the Mail on Sunday, the United boss sought to clarify what he meant with that remark since it was confirmed Wenger would be leaving:
Oliver Holt @OllieHolt22
Mourinho: When I called Wenger a specialist in failure and heaped scorn and ridicule upon him, what I really meant was that I respected him as a fellow managerial great.
In many respects the match itself feels a little insignificant here, as United are nestled comfortably in second place and Arsenal are secure in sixth.
The most intriguing on-field storyline is the prospect of Sanchez coming up against his former side. He and Mkhitaryan were involved in a straight swap deal in January, with the Red Devils deemed to have pulled off a major coup in landing the Chilean.
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It’s been a slow start to life at Old Trafford for Sanchez, but he showed what he is capable of with a key goal against Spurs at Wembley on Saturday. Sam Pilger commented on his upturn in form:
Given Arsenal’s away issues and their focus on the Europa League, it’s tough to see anything other than a United triumph here.
The points for Mourinho’s men would put them in a commanding position ahead of Liverpool and Tottenham with three games left to play. The Portuguese will also want to see the likes of Sanchez, Pogba and Lukaku continue to build momentum ahead of their FA Cup final showdown with Chelsea.