A warm welcome to the new year and a happy 2020. Football fans have a simply stunning introduction ahead of them, with matches scheduled in a host of top European divisions. The English Premier League bring the curtain up with a busy afternoon, no less than nine of 10 games from round 21 on the programme.

Two teams who struggled throughout last year but will be hoping this calendar is kinder to them meet in London. Arsenal host Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium from 8.00pm, a match shown live on Sky Sports. Who will come out on top and launch their year with a vital win? The form of both tells us to expect a tight encounter.

This match will prove a joy for armchair fans, but bookmakers offer followers the chance to ramp up their interest with a bet on the outcome. Have your say on the winner of the points or aim higher by playing one of the many specials available. First goal scorer, for example, is a market with attractive odds attached and one sure to be popular.

Important Time for Arsenal

It has already proven to be a difficult season for followers of Arsenal. They missed out on the top four last season and were beaten in the final of the Europa League but headed into this campaign with their heads held high. Fans were confident of a turnaround in form and a real crack at returning Champions League football to the Emirates. Those loyal to the cause have watched on enviously as bitter rivals Tottenham have enjoyed success on the continent.

The club endured a nightmare start to the season, however, one that resulted in manager Unai Emery losing his job. The Gunners are now stuck in a transitional period. They must get certain decision right off the field and the board must provide a cash injection in time for the winter transfer window opening. Improvement is needed all over the park if Arsenal are to have any chance of rising from the ashes and getting anything out of this season. Back the home win at 7/5 with Betfair or try the draw at 13/5

United Turn the Corner

Things haven’t been too much better over at Old Trafford and there was a time in autumn when it looked like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be lucky to see out the year in charge. The young manager encountered more than his fair share of teething problems following a summer spending spree, but the board surprised many by staying loyal to their leader. That couldn’t have been easy, especially on the back of defeats to Bournemouth and Newcastle.

Anthony Martial 11 celebrates the goal. Juventus - Manchester United. UEFA Champions League. Matchday 4. Allianz stadium.

A draw with Liverpool at Old Trafford back in October gave United fans a glimpse of what this young team was capable of before two impressive wins in quick succession seemed to signal the red devils and Solskjaer had turned a corner and were ready to shine. They upset the odds to beat Tottenham before giving a performance of the season effort to defeat Man City at the Etihad Stadium. Not only did United win the Manchester derby, they beat the champions in fine style. A strong start to the year would get many fans back onside. The away win is 9/5 with Betfair.

Rivals Played out a 1-1 Draw Last Time

This match really could go either way. Arsenal have home advantage and will aim to make that count in what is a winnable match for them, if playing to the best of their abilities. There is too much uncertainly over the locals at this stage, however, and many backers would prefer to take a chance on a decent price about an away win. It would come as no surprise to see United claim the spoils here and the odds make them a bet worth having.

When running through the stats associated with this fixture, we note that both teams have found the net in five of the last six renewals. That was extended earlier this season when the rivals played out a tense 1-1 at Old Trafford, McTominay and Aubameyang on the scoresheet that day. Those looking to avoid picking a winner could try their luck on the both teams to score market at a handy 8/15 with William Hill. That would work best as part of an accumulator.

STATS

  • These sides fought out a 1-1 draw earlier this season
  • Two of the last four meetings have ended all-square
  • Both teams have scored in five of the last six renewals
  • Aubameyang has scored in each of his last three games vs Man Utd
  • Each of the last two meetings have produced less than three goals