Arsene Wenger believes Jose Mourinho will not set out his Manchester United side in an ultra-defensive formation for their clash at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).
Speaking after Arsenal’s 5-0 thrashing of Huddersfield Town on Wednesday, which moved the Gunners to just four points behind second-place United in the table, Wenger doesn’t think Mourinho will “park the bus” as he has done away from home against other rivals this season.
“No, I don’t expect anything special. I just expect us to be ready to recover now. Man United is a strong team and I expect us just to cope with the problems they will give us. They will attack as well. They will not only defend,” Wenger said. “It is a game between Arsenal and Man United at home. I just want to focus and to prepare well my team, and give my team a good chance to win the game. Man United is doing well at the moment, we are doing well at the moment, so it looks to be a promising game.”
On paper, yes, it could be enthralling with several attacking stars purring for both teams. But in reality, we all know how Mourinho approaches these games against title rivals away from home. ‘Shut up shop, get a 0-0 draw at worst and if we nick a win, great’ will likely be his team talk. Given the history between Wenger and Mourinho, will either really set their teams up to be open and expansive but vulnerable on the counter?
In United’s seven away games against the “top six” teams since Mourinho took charge at the start of last season, United have scored one goal, lost four times and haven’t won a single game with three 0-0 draws the highlights.