Arsenal v Manchester United predictions psychology injuries

Arsenal v Manchester United: FA Cup 4th round

For a team which is being heavily criticised, especially for its defence, Arsenal’s home form remains unquestionably good…

Home games only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 11 10 1 0 31 6 25 31
3 Arsenal 12 9 2 1 26 10 16 29
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 11 7 3 1 23 14 9 24

Nine wins, two draws and a single defeat at the very start of the season to Manchester City.   Their goals against total at home is 10, exactly the same as Manchester City.

Manchester United’s away form is good, but not quite as good as Arsenal’s.

Away teams only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 13 11 0 2 30 13 17 33
2 Liverpool 12 9 2 1 23 7 16 29
3 Manchester City 11 7 2 2 22 7 15 23
4 Chelsea 11 7 1 3 19 10 9 22
5 Manchester United 12 6 2 4 23 19 4 20

Six wins, two draws, four defeats.

Both teams have very strong FA Cup histories – in fact they are the top two performing FA Cup teams, by some distance…

Results by team
Club Wins Last final won Total final appearances
Arsenal 13 2017 20
Manchester United 12 2016 20
Chelsea 8 2018 13
Tottenham Hotspur 8 1991 9
Liverpool 7 2006 14
Aston Villa 7 1957 11

So trying to separate the teams is hard – although if we look at current form we can see quite a boost for Manchester United

22 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United W 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Huddersfield Town W 3-1
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth W 4-1
02 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester United W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Reading FAC W 2-0
13 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United W 0-1
19 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Brighton and Hove Albion W 2-1

The scoring has eased up recently but the list of victories cannot be denied.  Arsenal by comparison has

22 Dec 2018 Arsenal v Burnley W 3-1
26 Dec 2018 Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal D 1-1
29 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Arsenal L 5-1
01 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Fulham W 4-1
05 Jan 2019 Blackpool v Arsenal FAC W 0-3
12 Jan 2019 West Ham United v Arsenal L 1-0
19 Jan 2019 Arsenal v Chelsea W 2-0

Arsenal have four wins, two defeats and a draw, compared with seven straight wins for Manchester United.

In the injury charts Manchester United have five men down, Arsenal four.

Fellani, Mojo and Smalling are all out for Manchester United with Shaw and Rashford in doubt.  For Arsenal Bellerin, Welbeck and Holding are all out, and Mkhitaryan is slowly coming back to full fitness.

So on form and team availability it looks like Manchester United will shade it.  And in going further and looking at games between the two sides Arsenal have not won any of the last three.

Thus everything points to Manchester United, although Arsenal are slightly edging it in terms of home vs away fixtures.  But Emery as a manager has for many years been a cup man, while the key issue for Manchester United this season is getting back to the top four for the Champions League.   This final psychological issue might just swing it Arsenal’s way – the FA Cup for Manchester United is less important than the league.  I doubt that it is for Arsenal.

Manchester United v Brighton: predictions, psychology, injuries

The first thing we know about Manchester United is that they are on a terrific run.  Here it is…

22 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United W 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Huddersfield Town W 3-1
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth W 4-1
02 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester United W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Reading FAC W 2-0
13 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United W 0-1

But… only one of those teams was a top six team, and Tottenham are in the curious position of doing far worse at home than away.  So playing Tottenham at Wembley, although not easy, was not as difficult as one might assume.

Just to make that point here is the top of the home matches league table…

Home games only.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21
6 Everton 12 6 3 3 20 16 4 21
7 Tottenham Hotspur 10 6 0 4 18 10 8 18

So Tottenham are modest at home, and Manchester United are better, having three draws and a defeat against Tottenham’s four defeats.  But Man U do score 2.1 goals a game at home letting in 1.3

Brighton are modest away – to say the least…

16 Brighton and Hove 11 2 2 7 9 18 -9 8
17 Burnley 11 2 2 7 9 22 -13 8
18 Huddersfield Town 11 1 3 7 8 21 -13 6
19 Cardiff City 10 1 2 7 6 18 -12 5
20 Fulham 12 0 2 10 8 30 -22 2

Two wins and two draws for Brighton away and seven defeats, scoring under 1 goal a game and letting in nearly two on average.

The fact is that these are the teams that Manchester United’s new manager has been getting his team to eat for breakfast, and it is hard to see how Brighton will hold out.

The psychology

Man U will expect to win because of their recent track record, and Brighton will also expect them to win.  Brighton will play to stop that all important first goal.  The moment Man U get it, the floodgates will open.

The injuries

Manchester United are way down the injury list with just three men down: but two of those (Alexis and Smalling) could play, although given the way in which Man U have been playing they hardly need risk anyone.

Brighton also have three injuries but only one of these – Bissouma – has any chance of making the team.  Fernandes da Silva Junior and Izquierdo  have no chance of playing.

The verdict

It is hard to see anything other than a Manchester United victory – probably by at least three goals.  Manchester United have scored 17 goals in their last six games, and have not let in a goal in their last three games so 3-0 seems about right.

Tottenham v Man Utd: the predictions, the psychology, the injuries

Tottenham continue to be that oddity – the team that performs better away from home than at home.

Partly this is to do with the fact that they are at Wembley, instead of New White Hart Lane, despite promises that the ground would be ready for this season.  Partly we have to take into account the fact that they have played fewer home games, courtesy of arrangements with the Football League to help them.

This last point affects the table so today here is the League table for home games only, with the average points per game shown in the final column.

P Team P W D L F A GD Pts Av
1 Manchester City 11 10 0 1 37 10 27 30 2.72
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28 2.80
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26 2.36
4 Chelsea 11 6 4 1 19 8 11 22 2.00
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21 2.10
6 Tottenham Hotspur 9 6 0 3 18 9 9 18 2.00

The best performing teams at home are Liverpool and Manchester City, followed by Arsenal, Man U, and then Chelsea and Tottenham.  So Tottenham’s lack of games does not hide a higher position – they are sixth in the home league even when games played are taken into account.

Here is Manchester United’s away record

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 12 10 0 2 28 12 16 30
2 Liverpool 11 8 2 1 22 7 15 26
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Manchester United 11 5 2 4 22 19 3 17

Man U have certainly been performing more modestly away from home than the hype that constantly surrounds the club would suggest.

But Man U’s recent results have been remarkable since their change of manager

2 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United W 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Huddersfield Town W 3-1
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth W 4-1
02 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester United W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Reading FAC W 2-0

16 goals in five games scored and three conceded.   Of course their away wins in this run have been against Cardiff and Newcastle, and indeed all the clubs they have played have had more modest ambitions in terms of the league and cup, but still, it is an improvement over the results gained by the previous manager.

Tottenham’s last five games give us

26 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth W 5-0
29 Dec 2018 Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 1-3
01 Jan 2019 Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur W 0-3
04 Jan 2019 Tranmere Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur FAC W 0-7
08 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea Lge Cup W 1-0

The defeat against Wolverhampton was a surprise – but again a reflection of the stuttering home form.   Conventional wisdom (actually based on quiate a large number of clubs) is that clubs do slip up when they change ground.  There seems to be an air of exceptation among supporters that a new ground means new achievements, but it doesn’t happen.  Tottenham may well have to face this twice because of a season playing home match at Wembley before a season at New White Hart Lane.

But on the other hand they have beaten Bournemouth 5-0 at Wembley and Chelsea 1-0.

The psychology

Manchester United are full of new belief, which is often known as the new manager bounce.   But all new manager bounces come to an end, and then normal service (as in what it was like before the psychological effect kicked in) returns.

Except in Manchester United’s case they were clearly underperforming given the talent available on the pitch, so this is a hard one to call.

As for Tottenham, the players know that Wembley is not home and that they were promised a stadium at home for the start of the season and there has been mumbling from the supporters.

I think the psychology could sway this one and that Manchester United could win.

The injuries.

Tottenham report five injuries according to physioroom.  Moura and Dembele are both a major doubt for this game, Dier, Vertonghen, Wanyama are out.   For Manchester Unitred Sanchez is a doubt, Rojo and Smalling are out.  Pogba might make it to the bench.

So overall, I’ll go for Man U.

Newcastle v Manchester United: the predictions

This is a game where perhaps it is best to start with recent form rather than the home and away records that we normally use.

The results for Manchester United in December may be put down to the tactical abilities of the old and new managers, or maybe their man management, but also I suspect psychological issues are involved.  A sense of relief at the end of the old regime, followed by a growing confidence – factors that may not be as important as raw talent and training, but still have a major part to play.   “We can’t win a game” changes into “We can’t lose”.

01 Dec 2018 Southampton v Manchester United D 2-2
05 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Arsenal D 2-2
08 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Fulham W 4-1
12 Dec 2018 Valencia v Manchester United Champ Lge L 2-1
16 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Manchester United L 3-1
22 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United W 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Huddersfield Town W 3-1
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth W 4-1

That stuttering collection of results through the first five games of December was indeed followed not just by three straight wins but three straight wins scoring 12 goals.

So there is momentum there – but momentum always comes to an end at some time.  And there is a bit of a way to go to get an away form for Manchester United that is comparable to the norm for clubs in the European places.  This table shows away results only

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Tottenham Hotspur 11 9 0 2 25 12 13 27
2 Liverpool 10 8 2 0 21 5 16 26
3 Chelsea 10 7 1 2 19 8 11 22
4 Manchester City 10 6 2 2 19 7 12 20
5 Arsenal 10 4 3 3 22 21 1 15
6 Wolverhampton W 10 4 3 3 11 10 1 15
7 Manchester United 10 4 2 4 20 19 1 14

There is in fact a significant gap opening between the away form of the top four in that list and the rest.   But Manchester United did knock five past Cardiff, so things are starting to change.

What undoubtedly makes Manchester United’s position easier in this match is Newcastle’s home form…  Here is the foot of the home form league table

16 Burnley 10 3 1 6 12 20 -8 10
17 Crystal Palace 10 2 3 5 5 9 -4 9
18 Southampton 10 1 5 4 11 17 -6 8
19 Newcastle United 10 2 1 7 7 15 -8 7
20 Huddersfield Town 10 1 2 7 4 14 -10 5

This table which as I say, just shows home games, reveals Newcastle with just two wins in 10, scoring less than one goal a game on average and conceding over twice the number they score.

For December the Newcastle results look like this…

01 Dec 2018 Newcastle United v West Ham United L 0-3
05 Dec 2018 Everton v Newcastle United D 1-1
09 Dec 2018 Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers L 1-2
15 Dec 2018 Huddersfield Town v Newcastle United W 0-1
22 Dec 2018 Newcastle United v Fulham D 0-0
26 Dec 2018 Liverpool v Newcastle United L 4-0
29 Dec 2018 Watford v Newcastle United D 1-1

There is just won win in there and that against fellow strugglers Huddersfield who seem to be doomed to relegation already.  Newcastle’s last home point was a goalless draw against fellow relegation contenders Fulham.

Unless suddenly the magic of the new manager at Manchester United wears off or Newcastle find some incredible magical way of turning things around, this looks like another easy win for Manchester United.  They might knock in another hatload but I would think that 0-2 is more likely, given the way the goals have gone in, in the past.