Manchester United visit Arsenal on Sunday aiming to demonstrate they can be genuine contenders for the Premier League title this season.
Although the Red Devils have picked up six points from their opening three games, you would be hard-pushed to argue they played well.
Erik ten Hag’s side were fortunate to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in their opening game before slipping to a dismal defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Matchday 2.
They were two goals down inside four minutes at home to Nottingham Forest last weekend but battled back to secure a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
Fans with Manchester United tickets for the trip to the Emirates Stadium will be desperate to see the team ramp things up a notch against the Gunners.
The home side started their campaign with narrow victories over Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace before being held 2-2 at home by Fulham.
Joao Palhinha’s late equaliser ended Arsenal’s perfect start to the campaign, and United will take plenty of heart from that result.
Arsenal have splashed the cash this summer to boost their hopes of winning silverware but are yet to show the money was well spent.
While they showed plenty of defensive resilience to pinch three points at Palace, they looked vulnerable at the back against Fulham.
Their inability to keep clean sheets at home is proving problematic – a factor that should be music to Ten Hag’s ears.
Midfielder Declan Rice is yet to show why Arsenal broke the bank to sign him, while Kai Havertz is failing miserably to adapt to a deeper role.
Rice will undoubtedly be eager to impress this weekend, particularly given the anonymous nature of many of his previous appearances against United.
Red Devils legend Roy Keane has repeatedly criticised Rice for going missing in big games, and it is impossible to argue with his viewpoint.
However, United’s midfield will need to improve on what they have shown in their first three outings, although it looked a little more balanced against Forest.
With Mason Mount ruled out with an injury, Ten Hag restored Christian Eriksen to the starting XI and his presence allowed Bruno Fernandes to shine.
Mount’s absence is probably a blessing in disguise, with the former Chelsea midfielder struggling to get to grips with the system at United.
Injuries to several key defenders have not helped United’s cause, while they desperately need a focal point in attack.
New signing Rasmus Hojlund could be in the squad to face the Gunners having returned to training, but it would be a surprise to see him start at the Emirates.
His presence in the travelling party will be a boost to United, and he will likely be a useful option off the bench against Mikel Arteta’s team.
Having failed to record a league victory at Arsenal since December 2017, United will be eager to secure a positive result this weekend.
Arsenal’s defensive frailties on their own patch give the Red Devils every chance of claiming their third victory of the campaign.
While a draw would not be the worst result in the world, these are the type of games United must win if they want to challenge for the title.
Reigning champions Manchester City have collected nine points this term, and United cannot afford the gap to widen heading into the international break.
With games against Brighton & Hove Albion (H), Burnley (A) and Crystal Palace (H) to come during the rest of September, a win at the Emirates would fire United firmly into the title mix.
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