Manchester United return to Premier League action after the international break on Saturday, opening the weekend programme against Arsenal in the lunchtime kick-off at Old Trafford.
After beating Swansea City last time out, Jose Mourinho will be hoping that his side can maintain the new-found momentum to close the gap on the frontrunners following a largely difficult start to the campaign.
MAN UTD INJURIES
Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling remain unavailable to United, with the Ivorian still nursing a knee injury and his English centre-half partner overcoming a toe problem. Wayne Rooney is available despite missing England's 2-2 draw with Spain on Tuesday due to what was diagnosed as a minor knee injury, with pictures of the national skipper drunk at a wedding reception on Saturday having simultaneously caused a stir.
Marouane Fellaini was sent home early from international duty with Belgium due to a calf injury but could be available for selection against Arsenal, while Antonio Valencia could be back ahead of schedule after breaking his hand last month. The Ecuadorian full-back needed surgery after sustaining the injury against Manchester City in the EFL Cup, but has since posted footage of himself lifting weights as part of his recovery work on Instagram and could be pushed into action with just a light protective bandage supporting the forearm in question.
Elsewhere, Luke Shaw has been putting in extra sessions in order to be fit for the Gunners' visit having been a late withdrawal from the Swansea trip and Jose Mourinho revealed on Friday that the full-back is now fit and has confidence in him to play without guaranteeing that he will be selected to start on Saturday. Daley Blind is fit again having come through international duty with the Netherlands unscathed.
MAN UTD SUSPENSIONS
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a high-profile absentee for United after he picked up his fifth booking of the domestic campaign against Swansea. Mourinho can, however, welcome back Ander Herrera after the Spaniard served a one-match ban in south Wales having been sent off in the 0-0 draw with Burnley the previous week.
Although Arsenal have a number of injury issues, they have no players serving a suspension for the Old Trafford meeting.
MAN UTD POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
The biggest selection dilemma for Mourinho for the visit of Arsenal is likely to be a replacement for Ibrahimovic, with Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial all potentially staking a claim. As long as the club captain can prove his fitness following his minor injury trouble, Rooney may well get the nod as the lone striker for the fourth time this term, though both Rashford and Martial will be in contention for spots on the wings.
Michael Carrick could well be rewarded for an excellent performance against Swansea by being handed a second start of the league campaign, although Herrera's return from suspension and Fellaini's availability gives Mourinho plenty of options in midfield. Paul Pogba could well move up into the No.10 position once more, or play on the left of a three in the engine room as happened at the Liberty Stadium but that would reduce possibilities in the attacking third.
Phil Jones could start again having made his first appearance at senior level for 10 months in the win over Swansea, although Blind's return to fitness will give Mourinho greater flexibility at the back. Shaw may well not be risked, with Blind or Marcos Rojo likely to take the left-back slot due to their greater match fitness. With a number of late calls due to be made on the readiness of many returning players, Mourinho is sure to only be certain of his starting XI in the final hours before kick-off.
Arsenal arrive in M16 on the back of a 16-match unbeaten run since their 4-3 opening day loss to Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. Last time out they squandered a lead in the north London derby to hand Tottenham a point, but their consistency this term makes them a real threat at Old Trafford.
They don't have a great record against United, of course, having not won a league trip since the 2006-07 clash in which Emmanuel Adebayor scored the only goal of the game four minutes from time. That was one of only three Premier League wins for the Gunners at Old Trafford, with the other two being memorable victories in 1998 and 2002 amid title-winning run-ins for Arsene Wenger and his men. United victories in recent years have included 8-2 and 6-1 successes.
Star man Alexis Sanchez returns to club duty having struck twice for Chile in their 3-1 win over Uruguay in midweek, and he insists he will be fit having recently overcome a hamsting injury. "I will train on Friday and travel the same day to Manchester to play Saturday midday. There is no problem with me playing," he told the Evening Standard.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
- Manchester United have lost just one of their last 10 Premier League matches against Arsenal, a 3-0 loss at the Emirates in October 2015 (W6 D3).
- Arsenal have lost 22 times against Manchester United in the Premier League - more than they have against any other team, with 15 of those losses coming at Old Trafford.
- Arsene Wenger’s only win in 15 previous encounters as a manager in any competition against Jose Mourinho came in the 2015 Community Shield (W1 D6 L8).
- Wayne Rooney scored his first ever Premier League goal (Oct 2002), his first Premier League goal for Man United (Oct 2004) and his 100th Premier League goal (Jan 2010) against the Gunners. He needs two goals to go level with Sir Bobby Charlton (249) as Manchester United’s all-time top scorer (all comps).
- Wenger has lost on each previous occasion that he has faced a Manchester United manager for the first time in the Premier League (Ferguson in November 1996, Moyes in November 2013 and Van Gaal in November 2014).
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
The game gets under way at 12:30pm UK time, with local TV coverage provided live on Sky Sports 1.