The days when the two league matches between Arsenal and Manchester United decided where the title was destined are over.
The Gunners last won the Premier League title 16 years ago while the Red Devils haven’t been English champions in seven years.
In the last few years, both teams have struggled to even make the top four at times and the clash that was filled with great characters on both sides now seems to be a lot less intense.
Heading into their clash on Sunday at Old Trafford, Arsenal and Manchester United find themselves in the bottom half of the table with Arsenal in 12th position and United in 15th place.
Premier League Table
|Rank||Team||Matches played||Wins||Draws||Losses||Goals scored||Goals conceded||Goal Difference||Points|
Since Sir Alex Ferguson left, United have finished in the top four just three times, while the Gunners have not qualified for the Champions League since 2017.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who featured in many of those matches when managerial legends Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger were in charge and passions often boiled over both on and off the pitch.
He admitted that the matches between the two teams no longer decides the Premier League title.
“When I played it was between us both to win the league, so that was a fierce rivalry,” said Solskjaer.
“There were all sorts of old stories – the passion, the excitement and the importance of those games.
“We knew if we took six points off them we’d more or less win the league or vice versa.
“There’s still the rivalry, the history, but now we don’t think about them as our rivals or anyone as our rivals.
League positions for Man United and Arsenal
However, Manchester United have a good record over Arsenal in recent times, especially at Old Trafford. The Gunners have not beaten Manchester United on their own patch since 2006 when Emmanuel Adebayor scored the late winner for Arsenal. The Gunners though will take some solace in the fact that they have avoided defeat on their last two trips to Old Trafford.
Overall, there is little to choose between the two sides with Manchester United enjoying a slight edge over their opponents in the overall head-to-head stats.
Man United vs Arsenal head-to-head
|Competition||Played||Arsenal wins||Drawn||Manchester United wins||Arsenal goals||Manchester United goals|
|Football League/Premier League||202||71||48||83||281||305|
|Football League Cup||6||2||0||4||8||15|
|Football League Centenary Trophy||1||1||0||0||2||1|
|FA Community Shield||6||4||2||0||14||7|
|UEFA Champions League||2||0||0||2||1||4|
Solskjaer eyes happy century
Solskjaer – who will be taking charge of United for the 100th time – and his Gunners counterpart Mikel Arteta are very different personalities to Ferguson and Wenger.
“We just need to put points on the board.
“Let’s hope I can celebrate number 100 with a good performance and a result. I’ve enjoyed it so far.”
‘Pleased with the response’
Solskjaer, whose side have shown character in rebounding from their 6-1 humiliation at home to Tottenham Hotspur earlier this season, said Arteta was making his mark at Arsenal.
The Spaniard played under Wenger for the Gunners before having a spell as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
He took over at Arsenal last season, replacing compatriot Unai Emery, and guided the club to FA Cup success.
“You can see what he’s doing. He’s got his own ideas,” said Solskjaer.
“He’s worked under a top manager before.
“It’s a great foundation to build from.”
Solskjaer said it was hard for him to judge how far he had brought United since replacing Jose Mourinho in December 2018.
“We want to develop, we want to improve,” he said.
“It’s not up to me to say how far we’ve come.
“I’ve been very pleased with the response after the start of the season.
“I think any result as brutal as a 6-1 would have to get a response and, of course, it has been dealt with internally.
“We wanted to finish that off as soon as we could and just move forward.
“Now we feel fit and strong and competitive in every game.”
United’s home thrashing by Spurs is one of a number of surprising results this season already – Aston Villa whipped champions Liverpool 7-2 – and this makes Solskjaer feel it will be a much more competitive title race.
“So many clubs have developed strength in depth and ability to challenge for trophies,” the 47-year-old Norwegian said.
“The top two (Liverpool and Manchester City) have run away with it in the last two seasons but this year a lot of us would hope to put up a challenge.
“Back then (when Solskjaer played) it was Arsenal, then Chelsea.
“Now it’s more exciting and interesting for the fans. Anything can happen, as this season has shown.”
(With AFP inputs)