There’s no place to Hyde

United’s split per­son­al­ity means fans don’t know which ver­sion to ex­pect ahead of Arse­nal visit

Sport360 - - Premier League - By Matthew Jones @Mat­tJones360 ✉ mat­[email protected]

Manch­ester United’s play­ers and man­ager face the fir­ing line again on Wed­nes­day as the Gun­ners come to Old Traf­ford in con­fi­dent mood. Here, we look at three talking points ahead of the game:

Jekyll and Hyde United

They’re in the midst of their worst start to a sea­son in 28 years and there has been an in­creas­ingly poi­sonous at­mos­phere hang­ing over Old Traf­ford – so it’s easy to for­get United have, at times this term, been pretty im­pres­sive.

A gritty 2-1 tam­ing of Ju­ven­tus, a swathe of at­tack­ing foot­ball that rescued a 3-2 win against New­cas­tle and a point at Chelsea that should have been three. These have tended to go hand-in-hand with re­sults that re­duce United fans to the face palm emoji – de­feat to Derby in the League Cup, be­ing picked apart like a cast-off chip packet by a Seag­ull on the pier at Brighton and the gut­less 3-1 West Ham de­ba­cle.

There was much to ad­mire and de­spise in the 2-2 draw at Southamp­ton. A stir­ring fightback to draw level at 2-2 by half­time, yet they never looked like find­ing a win­ner.

What type of per­for­mance are fans in store for? They prob­a­bly shud­der to think about which ver­sion is go­ing to show up.

Emery rolling with big win

His side are on a scin­til­lat­ing 19pro­vide

game un­beaten run so it’s hard to find fault – but up un­til the week­end Arse­nal’s im­pres­sive start to life un­der Emery had failed to yield a win over a big team.

The su­perb run has been col­lated since back-to-back de­feats to open the sea­son against cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City and then at Chelsea. A 1-1 draw was earned at An­field but a ma­jor scalp has eluded them. And scalps don’t come more cov­eted than a vic­tory over de­spised ri­vals,.

Emery now has his first ma­jor win, with United next. It’s al­most a lit­tle flat­ter­ing to give United big team billing, such is the malaise set­ting in un­der Jose Mourinho.

But they do re­main danger­ous on their day. And whether they’re in poor form or not, vic­tory would another fil­lip to Arse­nal’s top-four, or even ti­tle, am­bi­tions

Top four far away?

Sir Alex Fer­gu­son over­saw plenty of ab­ject starts to sea­sons dur­ing his time as United man­ager, with the Scot bank­ing on his side in­evitably com­ing good when the busi­ness end of the sea­son be­gan.

With that in mind, an eight-point gap to the top four doesn’t im­me­di­ately seem hazardous to United. What is, how­ever, is this is not a side cast in the mould of Fer­gu­son.

United have not been that gritty and glo­ri­ous ver­sion for quite a num­ber of years. This ver­sion is brit­tle and bor­ing, and an eight­point gap – which could be­come 11 should Arse­nal win – al­ready seems in­sur­mount­able.

Mourinho was bizarrely forced to ad­dress com­ments fol­low­ing the Saints draw that he be­lieved his side would need a “mir­a­cle” to earn a spot in the top four.

“It is not what I feel at all,” the be­lea­guered Red Devils boss said. Whether he was back­track­ing or not, the form of the six sides above his should worry the man­ager.

All Guns blaz­ing: Unai Emery’s reign re­ally be­gan with the Spurs win.

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