Which of these two troubled Premier League teams will enjoy the better, While Manchester United and Arsenal enjoyed differing fortunes in the Premier League last weekend, it’s clear that these two behemoths of English football are in the midst of testing periods. The excellent form the Red Devils enjoyed during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s caretaker tenure as head coach quickly dissipated once he was appointment, and the malaise of previous managers appears to have set in once again this term. Of course, there have been good results — notably the 4-0 victory over Chelsea — but United’s limitations were laid bare in defeat against West Ham United last weekend, not to mention the 1-1 draw with Rochdale in a midweek EFL Cup clash. Editors’ Picks Against the Hammers, who dispatched United 2-0, Solskjaer’s side demonstrated the disorganisation, lethargy and lack of focus as they had in last April’s 4-0 defeat by Everton, and while not quite as bad as that performance, this raised questions about whether there’s been any progress at all at Old Trafford. Certainly, this is a side in transition — they have been for years — but the arrivals of Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka do not yet appear to have boosted the team’s defensive solidity, nor have the departures of various big names allowed the youngsters to blossom. Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have departed for Internazionale, while Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera have all been allowed to depart, yet their replacements are yet to truly hint that they can step into their shoes. Scott McTominay has promise, certainly, but was outplayed alongside Nemanja Magic when up against the Hammers’ trio of Mark Noble, Declan Rice and Pablo Fornals.  Similarly, Jesse Lingard has neither a goal nor an assist in 2019, while Marcus Rashford appears shorn of confidence, exhausted and the goal scoring touch that characterized his early performances with the Red Devils. No one is denying these youngsters have talent, but with a lack of quality around them, and perhaps a lack of confidence in their own abilities, they are being left to flounder. Since the victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last term, United have lost seven of their subsequent 15 matches in the Premier League, and they appear more vulnerable than ever ahead of the visit of Arsenal.   Read more.                    However,  this Gunners side have some failings of their own, as they demonstrated against newly promoted Aston Villa last weekend. Once again, the defensive limitations that had prompted such ridicule against Watford were clear as John McGinn had given Villa the lead and Ainsley Maintland-Niles had been dismissed, while the midfield of Matteo Guendouzi, Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka had offered little in the way of poise or control. However, what Arsenal have — which United do not — is a striker of the ilk and in the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and it was the Gabon international who bailed them out again when Villa came to the Emirates Stadium. The Central African’s late winner took his tally for the season to six in six, and there are few pure strikers in the world who can match the former Borussia Dortmund man today. Will he again prove to be the difference-maker when Unai Emery’s beleaguered troops travel to Old Trafford .While that Premier League blockbuster rounds off the weekend, the action begins on Friday in Pretoria, where Mamelodi Sundowns host Cote d’Or in the Caf Champions League. Having won the first leg 5-0 away from home, Pitso Mosimane’s side are in a strong position as they look to progress towards the group stage, and Friday’s meeting represents an opportunity for him to give some of his fringe players a run out. The first leg was an opportunity for Downs to flex their muscles and showcase the depth of their squad, and the return fixture is another chance for the domestic heavyweights to help some players return to full fitness while giving others the time they need to rediscover their sharpness. Andile Jali is one such name who could come back into the fold, while the Cote d’Or clash represents a valuable opportunity for the likes of Phakamani Mahlambi, Oupa Manyisa and Aubrey Ngoma to get some competitive minutes under their belts. Will any of these players prove that they ought to be key men moving forward under Mosimane? Finally, Madrid derby, as Atletico and Real collide in an early La Liga showdown. These two giants sit first and second in the league, with Real one of only two sides yet to lose in their first six fixtures, but they haven’t been entirely cnvincing starts to the campaign — even if any problems have paled in comparison to Barcelona’s struggles. Article continues below Atletico were defeated away at Real Sociedad, and held at home by Celta Vigo, but they’ve generally fared well as Diego Simeone looks to integrate the new faces following a summer of significant departures. Real are rebounding after last season’s misery, and while the 2-2 draw away at Villarreal and the 1-1 at home against Real Valladolid were unconvincing, there are caveats here too, notably the sluggish recovery of Eden Hazard, who’s only played 74 minutes to date. Will the Belgium superstar steadily adapting to life in Spain, expect Zinedine Zidane’s Real to continue to improve after last year’s turmoil, even if Saturday’s clash represents a stern test for a team that can still look brittle.

 

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