Joleon Lescott column
Arsenal can take a huge step towards the Premier League title on Sunday afternoon — but I think Manchester United may spring a surprise at the Emirates.
We saw in last week’s Manchester derby how devastating Erik ten Hag’s side can be in transition and this is going to be a similar type of contest in North London.
They may not have much of the ball but that won’t worry United. If they can stay in the contest early, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them prevail.
Of course, their job has become significantly harder due to Casemiro’s suspension.
The Brazilian has been immense since arriving at Old Trafford but Ten Hag seems to have faith in all of his squad members and I’m sure he’ll back either Fred or Scott McTominay to carry out that role.
If it was me, I’d probably opt for Fred.
He features more than McTominay and is that little bit more dynamic, plus he’s just done a fantastic job on Kevin De Bruyne last weekend.
United dropped points late against Crystal Palace in midweek and while that will have hurt, they’ve got enough strong characters in their squad to dust themselves down and go again.
Perhaps that will give them a bit of a wake-up call and, while it has stopped everyone shouting about them potentially being in the title race, there’ll still be a belief in that dressing room that they can go all the way.
If Ten Hag’s men are to succeed, they’ll need a plan for stopping Martin Odegaard.
Arsenal’s captain has been fantastic this season and it hasn’t surprised me to see him take his game up a level.
He may only be 24 but this is someone who is used to having the weight of a nation on him. I think we sometimes overlook how big Odegaard is in Norway!
He’s been in the spotlight since he was 15 and is a shining example of a modern-day captain, who leads with his actions on the pitch and discipline rather than barking orders.