The Gunners will be without Hector Bellerin, who will be out for up to nine months with a knee injury. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Danny Welbeck along with Rob Holding make up the injury list.
Emery has intimated Arsenal will be much-changed going into the clash, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said Alexis Sanchez will play against his former side, though Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini remain sidelined for Friday’s game. Chris Smalling is fit but will not play while David de Gea, Antonio Valencia, Scott McTominay and Matteo Darmian haven’t travelled with the squad.
But how will they line up? Here are a few predictions from some of Britain’s media outlets.
1. Cech and Kolasinac come in; Sanchez starts
We expect Emery to start with Petr Cech in goal in place of Bernd Leno, while Maitland-Niles will come in for the sidelined Hector Bellerin. Greek international Sokratis will partner the newly fit Laurent Koscielny in the centre of defence with Sead Kolasinac in the left-back birth.
Following from the successful 2-0 victory over Chelsea last week, Emery will likely stick with the diamond in midfield, with Granit Xhaka at the base, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi on the right and left respectively, and Aaron Ramsey at the tip.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will partner Alexandre Lacazette in attack. The two have 14 and 8 league goals so far this season respectively.
Meanwhile, United are without Davide de Gea who hasn’t travelled with the squad to London, so Sergio Romero is expected to start in goal for the Red Devils. In defence, we think Solskjaer will go with Ashley Young, Viktor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Diego Dalot in a four.
Further forward Ander Hererra, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba will form a midfield three with Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial up front.
Sanchez’s tenure at United has been nothing but disastrous, as if Arsenal sold a real dud for the highest premium, at least in terms of salary. Injuries aside, Sanchez has scored just four goals in 32 appearances since moving to Old Trafford. However it’s not all gloom, in the Premier League this season, Sanchez has provided more assists per 90 minutes (0.53) than any other United player.
He has also created more chances per 90 (3.03) than any of this teammates. Only Mkhitaryan (2.71) and Juan Mata (2.38) created more chances per 90 minutes than Sanchez (2.24) for United in the Premier League last term. So the signs are the Chilean may be well-suited to creator role, should he maintain fitness and form.
Of course, his hamstring injury makes this all a big what if? Whether he starts, or can even perform anywhere near to his Arsenal best, is a serious question but an interesting proposition nonetheless in a newly high-functioning, exciting Man United team
On the topic of Sanchez, the United manager said: “He’ll be involved. I think he’ll love it if the crowd turn against him.”
2. The Auba-Laca connection
The most interesting story going into the game is whether Alexis Sanchez will start or feature in the game, but more interesting from an Arsenal perspective is whether Unai Emery will continue with Aubameyang and Lacazette up front in a two that looked fairly dangerous against Chelsea last weekend.
Assuming he does, then the player in behind is interesting too, as Aaron Ramsey started there at the Emirates last week and looked comfortable too. The Times expects the Welshman to reprise his role on Friday, ahead of the estranged Ozil.
Further back in midfield, The Times suggests a three of Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi.
The paper then suggests a defensive four of Maitland-Niles in the place of the injured Bellerin, Koscielny, Sokratis and Kolasinac, with the veteran Petr Cech in goal.
The Times’ predicted Arsenal XI (4-3-1-2; probable): P Cech -A Maitland-Niles, L Koscielny, Sokratis, S Kolasinac – G Xhaka, L Torreira, M Guendouzi – A Ramsey – P-E Aubameyang, A Lacazette.
3. Ole’s trusted XI
United meanwhile, are expected to line up in a 4-3-3. The Times had suggested Davide de Gea would start but it has since become clear he hasn’t travelled to London and that Sergio Romero will likely deputise in his place. Elsewhere the paper believes Solskjaer will be going with Young, Jones, Lindelof and Shaw in defence, his current first-choice backline.
Further forward, Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba form a solid three behind the ever-mobile Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Antony Martial.
The Times expects Sanchez – who will definitely at some point according to Solskjaer – to start on the bench.
The Times’ predicted Man United XI (4-3-3; probable): S Romero (in for the non-travelling De Gea) — A Young, P Jones, V Lindelof, L Shaw — A Herrera, N Matic, P Pogba — J Lingard, M Rashford, A Martial.
4. Ozil to actually start
Another possible take on Emery’s approach to Friday’s game is Ozil, and whether he’ll play, or even start.
Recently the £350,000 a week player has been languishing on the bench and in the stands at Arsenal, invariably not in the plans of Emery or so it seems. In any case, the German might just get a run out against United, according to The Evening Standard.
Elsewhere in their expected team is Leno, who may reprise his role in between the sticks ahead of Cech.
The Evening Standard’s Arsenal XI (4-1-2-1-2): Leno, Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Xhaka; Torreira, Guendouzi; Ozil; Lacazette, Aubameyang