Manchester United host Arsenal in this weekend’s standout fixture on Sunday knowing that three points could be huge in the Champions League race and severely dent their foes’ title aspirations.
United have been below-par this term, and are currently fifth in the table – one point ahead of sixth-placed Southampton and six adrift of Manchester City in fourth.
Louis van Gaal’s men have been in action in two separate competitions this week – Monday saw them see off League One side Shrewsbury 3-0 in the FA Cup, before thrashing Danish outfit FC Midtjylland 5-1 on Thursday night to reach the last-16 of the Europa League.
The Gunners also played twice during the Premier League break – after labouring to a goalless draw at home to Championship side Hull City, they lost 2-0 against FC Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Their last league outing saw them record a second consecutive victory in the top-flight, beating fellow challengers Leicester City 2-1 – Danny Welbeck scored the winner in stoppage time upon his return from injury.
Should the Foxes and Tottenham Hotspur lose over the weekend, victory at Old Trafford will move Arsene Wenger’s men back to the top of the table heading into the season’s final third.
Goalkeeper David De Gea could return to United’s starting line-up, having picked up an injury before his side’s Europa League first-leg and missing the two games since.
Striker Will Keane limped off against the Shrews, and is currently being assessed for a groin strain – he will be absent.
Phil Jones will also probably miss out, while Antonio Valencia is also going to need at least another week before returning.
Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista is ruled out of Sunday’s clash, while Jack Wilshere will return mid-March. England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been ruled out for a “few weeks” with a knee injury he picked up in the midweek defeat to Barcelona.
League Positions: Manchester United – 5th (41 pts); Arsenal – 3rd (51 pts)
Previous Meeting: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United – October 4, 2015
League Form: Manchester United – DWLWDL; Arsenal – DDLDWW
Key Men: Manchester United – Anthony Martial; Arsenal – Mesut Ozil
Shoot Says: Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal