Ainsley Maitland-Niles

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WATCH LIVE: Manchester United v. Arsenal

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One of the Premier League’s fiercest rivalries has some extra punch to it as a Monday showdown features two desperate giants looking to prove they can still compete with the league’s best.

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Manchester United sits in 8th in the Premier League table, while Arsenal rests in 11th, both far lower than the clubs expect to be seven matches in. The two teams meet at Old Trafford at 3:00 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

In a surprise spell of fitness for Manchester United, Paul Pogba starts despite reports that a midweek recurrence of his ankle injury could keep him out, while Marcus Rashford also makes the starting lineup despite reports of his likely absence, leaving Mason Greenwood to the bench. On the other end of the spectrum, Aaron Wan-Bissaka misses out officially due to illness, although reports state he’s been managing a back problem of late while Luke Shaw also can’t prove his fitness, which means the full-backs are Axel Tuanzebe and Ashley Young. Young Brandon Williams makes the bench as cover for one of the full-backs.

For Arsenal, it was thought that Kieran Tierney would be fit to make his Premier League debut for the club, but despite debuting midweek off the bench, he does not appear in the squad, with Sead Kolasinac remaining the left back of choice. Calum Chambers is chosen over Ainsley Maitland-Niles at right-back after the latter’s sending off last time out, while creative force Dani Ceballos begins on the bench. 18-year-old Bukayo Saka becomes the youngest player ever to start a Premier League match against Manchester United for Arsenal as Unai Emery deploys the youngster on the left wing.

LINEUPS

Man United – De Gea; Tuanzebe, Lindelof, Maguire, Young; McTominay, Pogba; Pereira, Lingard, James; Rashford.
Bench – Romero; Rojo, Williams, Matic, Fred, Mata, Greenwood.

Arsenal – Leno; Kolasinac, Luiz, Sokratis, Chambers; Guendouzi, Torreira, Xhaka; Saka, Aubameyang, Pepe.
Bench – Martinez; Holding, Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Willock, Martinelli.

Manchester United, Arsenal both desperate at Old Trafford

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Two teams with Top Four expectations meet sitting mid-table in an Old Trafford clash on Monday at 3 p.m. ET live on NBCSN and live online at NBCSports.com.

There is a different feeling surrounding this meeting of bitter Premier League enemies. They are both immeasurably desperate.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Unai Emery are in very precarious positions as they guide two fallen giants hoping to avoid further depths of despair. A loss here could doom one of these squads to a long, hard season of little gain, while a draw would confirm the equal plights of both rival clubs that long for a return to glory that seems so far out of reach.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

The future is now for Manchester United, as Mason Greenwood could see his first Premier League start with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial both sidelined with injuries. Paul Pogba‘s status is questionable thanks to an ankle injury he re-aggrivated midweek in cup action, the same ailment bothering Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette who will likely miss out. The Gunners will, however, have Kieran Tierney available for selection having yet to make his Premier League debut.

Injuries/suspensions

Man United: OUT – Marcus Rashford (hip), Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (knee). QUESTIONABLE – Paul Pogba (ankle).
Arsenal: OUT – Alexandre Lacazette (ankle), Emile Smith-Rowe (concussion).


Projected Lineups:

Man United: De Gea; Shaw, Lindelof, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka; McTominay, Matic, Mata; James, Greenwood, Pereira.

Arsenal: Leno; Tierney, Luiz, Sokratis, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Saka, Ceballos, Pepe; Aubameyang.


What they’re saying

Man United manager Solskjaer on struggles thus far: “You evaluate every single game and look through the games, but I’m not doubting myself, no. If I doubt myself, then the rest of the world would as well. We have loads of discussions, so we believe in what we’re doing.”

Arsenal manager Emery on rivalry:  “Each match when I watched in Spain, Arsenal v Manchester United, Manchester United v Arsenal, was a special moment. I think Monday at eight o’clock, all around the world, if someone wants to watch a football match, it’s this one. We really want to play matches where we can do something important. We are preparing well. The players are wishing to play the next match – we know it’s a very big opportunity for us to get three points.”


Three key battles

  1. Daniel James v. Ainsley Maitland-Niles – The young Arsenal right-back was sent off last time out against Aston Villa with two yellow cards, and should he get a chance to start and redeem himself, he will need to bounce right back against one of the more in-form wingers in the league. Daniel James has been one of the few bright spots in attack for Manchester United this season, and Maitland-Niles will have his hands full. Should Emery decide against going with the 22-year-old at right-back, he could give Hector Bellerin a chance to return to favor, leading even more intrigue to this matchup on the Manchester United left flank.
  2. Dani Cabellos v. Nemanja Matic – Manchester United fans won’t be worried about Scott McTominay holding his own in front of the Red Devils back line, as the 22-year-old has been fantastic for the club since earning a starting place in the middle of last year. Instead, if Cabellos is to trouble the Man United midfield it will likely be at the expense of Nemanja Matic who has looked off the pace at times this season, both on the ball and off it. If Cabellos gets a hold of the midfield and has room to make magic, the Manchester United back line could be forced to pick up the slack, which means good news for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who would clean up the scraps.
  3. Mason Greenwood v. David Luiz/Sokratis – The 17-year-old Manchester United striker has earned praise from all corners of Red Devil land for his performances in other competitions, and it is time for his first Premier League start. The Arsenal defense, meanwhile, hasn’t done much to cover itself in glory this season, and that could mean a feast for the teenager at the Theater of Dreams. Will Greenwood reward the faith Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown in his young talent?

Prediction

These two teams are hungry for a result, and when desperate sides meet, the neutrals benefit from what could likely become an electric affair. Goals and big moments are to be expected, and that makes for an exciting matchup. Ultimately the fear of losing could outweigh the glory of victory, which could lead to a lack of attacking mentality late, but I like Arsenal to shock the hosts in their fortress thanks to the host of injuries Manchester United is dealing with at the moment; the loss of Paul Pogba is more troubling than most Red Devil fans care to admit. Look for Dani Cabellos to shine as Arsenal takes it in an exciting 2-1 affair that goes down to the wire with Mason Greenwood finding the back of the net in a losing effort.

10-man Arsenal wins thriller over Aston Villa

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Remember how many joked that Arsenal was just gonna have to go outscore everyone due to their firepower up top and not much at the back?

They did it again Sunday, coming back from a goal down and a man down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Calum Chambers, and Nicolas Pepe scored to help overcome Ainsley Maitland-Niles‘ pair of early yellow cards as Arsenal moved fourth with 11 points.

John McGinn and Wesley Morales provided Aston Villa 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the game. Villa remains 18th with four points.


Three things we learned

1. David Luiz might be a Chelsea secret agent: The ex-Chelsea man was again heavy in blame in the concession of an Arsenal goal, as his sleepy, tepid attempt to stop Jack Grealish‘s cut back to Wesley ended with the latter smashing the ball into the goal moments after the Gunners had equalized from the spot. The veteran defender has been almost automatic for a big error per game.

Also, don’t just hate on Luiz. Look at this defending on the first Arsenal goal.

2. Aubameyang in the rarest of airs: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has played for two attack-forward teams, and drawn so many, “Yeah, buts” from critics, but the Gabonese wonder has been absolutely sensational. He has seven goals in seven matches this season across all competitions, and where would the Gunners be without him?

3. Gunners step up late: Down a man and 72 hours after playing in Germany, the Gunners had to find a hero. They found two, one likely and the other not so much. Chambers found a wonderful Guendouzi pass and outworked two Villa defenders to level the score at 2, and Aubameyang slashed a free kick home in the 84th.

Man of the Match: It was probably Pepe, who got his first Arsenal goal to go with an industrious day down the right. His vision is exceptional, perhaps outdone only by his freakishly athletic skill set. But you’re forgiven if you plug Aubameyang’s name in this space. And McGinn was terrific in defeat, but flubbed a chance to make it 3-3.


[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Ainsley Maitland-Niles could’ve had Arsenal ahead in the first minute, but he sent Saka’s cross high into the stands despite his station unmarked near the spot.

John McGinn forced Bernd Leno into the first save of the match two minutes later at the other end. The same keeper would stop the same shooter in the 11th minute.

Aubameyang couldn’t get purchase on a headed pass from Sead Kolasinac in the 16th minute after a Nicolas Pepe cross.

McGinn’s third bite at the apple was wide open and successful, as Anwar El Ghazi‘s cross spotted his run at the penalty spot and Leno had little hope of interfering with the opportunity. 1-0, 20’.

Maitland-Niles then slid into a challenge and caught a stamp during his foul. A second yellow was awarded and Arsenal was down a goal and a man.

Villa couldn’t find a second goal despite numerous chances, and Matteo Guendouzi won a straight-forward penalty off barging defender Bjorn Engels. Pepe converted the goal.

But Villa restored its lead within a minute, Jack Grealish blazing down the left side to cut back to the middle, where Wesley darted in front of sleepy David Luiz to finish the chance.

Chambers was the next to finish off a terrific pass from Guendouzi and even better work from the fullback. And Aubameyang’s free kick… holy smoke (embedded atop the page).

Arsenal bests Eintracht behind teen Saka

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Arsenal got its Europa League campaign off to a pleasant if uneasy start, riding a deflected first half goal and solid goalkeeping before breaking out late for 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the Commerzbank-Arena on Thursday.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Joe Willock scored the early marker, while newly-minted 18-year-old Bukayo Saka capped a strong performance with a late insurance marker and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put it to bed.

American defender Timothy Chandler was a second half sub for the Bundesliga hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Goalkeeper matters huge: Even as underrated Bernd Leno got a night off, Arsenal got a big performance from its goalkeeper. Eintracht took double the shots of its visitors over the first hour of play. Emiliano Martinez made his season debut and was very, very good for the Gunners. He played just one Europa League match last season and spent half the year with Reading on loan, but the 27-year-old looks in line for more experience this season and even played a role in Arsenal’s second goal.

2. Young stars shine: Willock was very good in the win, and produced several nice chances, but it’s fair to say that his goal was a good deal of Fortune. Saka’s big day was even brighter. The 18-year-old was a menace for most of the day, and scored a deserved goal late off a Nicolas Pepe feed. Saka then forced the turnover that led to Aubameyang’s goal, Arsenal’s third.

What a hit for his goal, too.

3. Emery deploys star subs: Unai Emery knows a bit about winning this competition, and he took out Willock and Smith-Rowe in order to protect the lead late (He also put in Ainsley Maitland-Niles for Sead Kolasinac, who was on a yellow card). He deployed fire power in Nicolas Pepe and Dani Ceballos, which was unlikely a welcome site for the hosts.


Martinez was exceptional in posting his clean sheet, needing many big moments in the first half to allow Arsenal its 0-0 score line before fortune smiled upon the Gunners.

Willock’s shot took a mean turn off Eintracht mainstay center back David Abraham to produce a halftime lead (see video below Thing No. 3).

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

The floodgates opened late, doubtlessly aided by a second yellow card dished out to Eintracht’s Dominic Kohr.

Martinez’s day went to the wire, tipping a Danny da Costa ball away before denying Filip Kostic with less than 10 minutes on the clock.

He then started the play that led to Arsenal’s second goal, finding Pepe for a long dribble en route to Saka’s career milestone. He turned 18 just two weeks ago.

It was a day to remember for Saka and one to forget for Abraham, as the teen stripped the Eintracht captain of the ball before making a silky pass to Aubameyang.

Comical errors doom Arsenal in draw with inspired Watford

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Watford gave Quique Sanchez Flores a fine “re-debut” for the Hornets in thrilling fashion.

Well, maybe it’d be better said that Arsenal gave the manager his moment.

Arsenal made two silly mistakes in their own box, giving Watford a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford out shot the Gunners 28-7, but needed big help to solve Bernd Leno.

The Gunners led on a pair of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goals scored 11 minutes apart in the first half, but Tom Cleverley and Roberto Pereyra had the answers thanks to grave errors from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz.

Arsenal now sits seventh with eight points, while Watford remains 20th with two.


Three things we learned

1. Fullbacks on parade: Arsenal’s early lead came by their very different attack-minded fullbacks. Sead Kolasinac drove with power down the left to slip a ball to Aubameyang for the opening goal, while flying Ainsley Maitland-Niles found space on the right to cross for Aubameyang’s second. Beautiful stuff.

2. Leno bright early: Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno picked up where he left off in the North London Derby, making a number of key saves or claims as Watford came out the gates with brightness and purpose. He had little chance of stopping either Watford goal, and made a point-salvaging save on Abdoulaye Doucoure in stoppage time.

3. More laughs at the back:  Just when you thought Nicolas Otamendi had the “Worst Giveaway of the Weekend” award on lock down, enter Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The veteran defender couldn’t quite sense the danger in his pass to Guendouzi, could he?

David Luiz’s mistake was nearly as glaring, as he blocked Roberto Pereyra‘s 80th minute dribble into the 18. Pereyra wrong-footed Leno for 2-2.

Man of the Match: Aubameyang.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The first proper chance of the match was produced by Gerard Deulofeu, whose curling shot gave Bernd Leno a little trouble.

Leno then made a fine save on Tom Cleverley in the 11th minute to led to a corner, and had to stop another shot from the same players off the set piece.

The chances kept coming, with Deulofeu cueing up Jose Holebas for a shot that sailed well over the bar.

Arsenal went ahead 1-0 in the 21st minute through a powerful Sead Kolasinac dribble up field to find Aubameyang for a classy turn and finish.

The second goal was electric, with Ozil playing a role in the build-up to Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ perfect cross for Aubameyang.

A bad giveaway by Matteo Guendouzi opened the door for Watford, but the Hornets couldn’t challenge Leno.

A spicy affair saw a touch line skirmish between Holebas and Arsenal duo Matteo Guendouzi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Watford pulled one back off a terrible giveaway from Sokratis, who gave Cleverley a wide open look at either side of Leno.

Then substitute Ismalia Sarr dragged a shot wide of the frame. Watford was knocking, and David Luiz opened the door with a block on Roberto Pereyra at the top of the 18. Pereyra fooled Leno and got the equalizer.