Premier League Preview: Can United bounce back from Palace humiliation against title-hungry Gunners?

2 min read

As the clock runs down and the season’s final fence is approached, this weekend’s penultimate round of fixtures could be make or break at both ends of the table. 

Burnley’s thrashing at home to Newcastle last weekend means that should the Clarets lose away at Tottenham on Saturday, they will be relegated straight back down to the Championship alongside Sheffield United. Win, and a glimmer of hope will remain for Vincent Kompany’s side and place all the emphasis on that final day clash with fellow candidates for the drop, Nottingham Forest. 

The headline event for Gameweek 37, though, is undoubtedly Manchester United vs Arsenal on Sunday afternoon. Arsenal have been near-faultless this season, going one better than last season’s title-charge – which ultimately fell away around mid-April time – by continuing to push Manchester City to boiling point with a new-found level of consistency which has for long been so lacking at the Emirates. 

Last weekend’s 3-0 win at home to Bournemouth was yet another display of calmly executed consistency, a result which ensures the north Londoners still have a dog in the fight in this title race with just two games left to play out. Unfortunately for the Gunners, Manchester City saw that performance and decided to raise them, as they often do. 

Erling Haaland has endured a dip in form and consistency of late but was back to his scintillating best at the Etihad, smashing four goals past Wolves as City cantered to a 5-1 rout over the West Midlanders to keep them firmly on Arsenal’s heels: second in the table, just a point behind top spot but with the luxury of a game in hand.

There’s now a double gameweek in the offing for Pep Guardiola’s side, first a trip to Fulham on Saturday lunchtime before they travel to the north side of the capital to face off against Tottenham next Tuesday. 

Both games feature plenty of jeopardy. Fulham have been impressive this season, winning 12 and drawing eight of their 36 games to date and they will not be pushovers at Craven Cottage – with nine of those 12 victories coming on the bank of the River Thames, the most memorable of those coming against Arsenal and Tottenham. 

City, though, are a rampant beast. They subjected the Cottagers to a 5-1 drubbing in the reverse fixture toward the beginning of the campaign and thrive in this pressure-induced period of the season, where so much rides on every ball kicked and minute played. Heading south on the back of such a confidence-filling victory over Wolves last time out, you would find few backing against the reigning champions adding three points to their 82-point haul come Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday’s clash with Tottenham looks, at least on paper, to carry more of a threat to their chances of retaining the title for a fourth consecutive season. Whilst Spurs have endured another season of battling with crippling inconsistency – this time without the individual brilliance of talismanic goal sniper Harry Kane – they possess somewhat of a bizarrely strong record against City. 

Of their previous five league meetings, City have managed only one win against Tottenham with Spurs claiming the spoils on three of those occasions (one draw). As conflicting as it may be for Tottenham to do their bitter rivals a favour by thwarting the incessant charge of Guardiola’s title-hunting goliaths, beating City on home soil would taste sweet enough to make up for it and in turn hand their chances of a top-four finish a boost, albeit in a race which does look like it has already been ran. 

Back to this weekend, though, where attention shifts back to Old Trafford and Arsenal will go all out to retain their momentum and heap more misery on Erik ten Hag’s side, whilst bundling more pressure on Pep Guardiola’s. United were shambolic in their 4-0 thudding by Crystal Palace on Monday and confidence is lower than it’s ever been at Old Trafford. Paired with a seemingly endless injury list and ongoing disgruntlement felt by the players and fans towards the manager, it is almost incomprehensible to envisage Arsenal slipping up in this one. 

If history has taught us anything, though, it’s that you cannot ever swim against the tide of Manchester United’s unpredictability. Oftentimes the Red Devils perform better against the bigger teams and they have made a habit of upsetting the applecart when it has been least expected in recent years. Whether Arsenal will suffer such a fate or indeed swing closer toward the crown, still remains to be seen.

Premier League – Gameweek 37 fixtures in full

Saturday 11 May

Fulham vs Man City 12.30pm

Bournemouth vs Brentford 3.00pm

Everton vs Sheff Utd 3.00pm

Newcastle Utd vs Brighton 3.00pm

Tottenham vs Burnley 3.00pm

West Ham vs Luton Town 3.00pm

Wolves vs Crystal Palace 3.00pm

Nottm Forest vs Chelsea 5.30pm

Sunday 12 May

Man Utd vs Arsenal 4.30pm

Monday 13 May

Aston Villa vs Liverpool 8pm

Tuesday 14 May

Tottenham vs Man City

Wednesday 15 May

Brighton vs Chelsea 

Man Utd vs Newcastle Utd