The outcome of Arsenal’s trips to Old Trafford used to have a big say in the Premier League title race but on Sunday it sees the team in 15th place host the side in 11th.
Between 1997-98 and 2002-03, the Gunners and Manchester United carved up first and second spot between them in five out of six seasons, but it has been a while since either club mounted a serious title challenge.
“It’s amazing isn’t it? I used to preview this game and think ‘wow’ but you look now and it is almost run of the mill,” said BBC football expert Mark Lawrenson.
Lawro is making predictions for all 380 Premier League matches this season, against a variety of guests.
This weekend, he is up against The Rap Game UK judge and Arsenal fan DJ Target.
The Rap Game UK is a BBC Three music competition showcasing the UK’s best upcoming MCs.
A new episode of series two airs on BBC iPlayer every Thursday at 7pm.
You can find DJ Target’s Rap Map here.
Target grew up as a Gunner and told BBC Sport: “I am an east London boy so I used to get a lot of people asking me how come I didn’t support West Ham, or whoever, when I was younger.
“But in the mid to late 1980s, when I was really young and just starting to enjoy football – before you really pick a team or form any allegiance – there were two main teams.
“A lot of people in my age group who I grew up with were Liverpool fans – John Barnes was a big thing, especially among young black kids who would see him and think ‘oh my god, we could be like him’.
“But also, on the other side of it, there were a bunch of Arsenal fans who I was around – older people as well as a few of my friends.
“I was already supporting Arsenal when Ian Wright joined from Crystal Palace in 1991, but once he arrived that really flicked the switch – he was just like a hero and that was it. That was when I started going to games at Highbury and really got stuck into it.”
Target has fond memories of Arsenal going to Old Trafford and winning to clinch the title in 2002, but they have not managed a league win there in any of their past 13 visits going back to September 2006.
“It’s really hard work being an Arsenal fan these days,” he added. “Those days it was a lot easier.
“We had so many great players for so many years, especially when Arsene Wenger came in 1996, right through to The Invincibles in 2004 and beyond.
“It felt like we were in the running for the title every year, and we had such a stylish way of playing too. Every move felt effortless, and there was so much creativity from every player, linking up all the time, it was ridiculous.
“Obviously the last few years have been very shaky. You do see glimpses of it from time to time under Mikel Arteta, but there is a way to go to get back to those days – the level we were at, and how good we were to watch.”
|Wolves v Crystal Palace||x-x||2-0||1-2|
|Sheff Utd v Man City||x-x||0-2||0-2|
|Burnley v Chelsea||x-x||1-1||1-3|
|Liverpool v West Ham||x-x||2-0||1-0|
|Aston Villa v Southampton||x-x||1-2||2-2|
|Newcastle v Everton||x-x||2-1||0-3|
|Man Utd v Arsenal||x-x||2-0||1-2|
|Tottenham v Brighton||x-x||2-0||2-0|
|Fulham v West Brom||x-x||2-1||0-1|
|Leeds v Leicester||x-x||2-1||1-1|
A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.
Wolves v Crystal Palace (20:00 GMT)
Wolves should really be heading into this game on the back of three straight wins – they conceded a late equaliser against Newcastle last weekend, when they’d done enough for the three points.
The way Newcastle were set up to try to stop Wolves is exactly what Crystal Palace will do on Friday, only the Eagles will carry a bit more of a threat at the other end.
With five goals in his first six league games, Palace forward Wilfried Zaha has already bettered his tally from last season [which was four goals in 38 league appearances]. Zaha is playing very well at the moment and will be dangerous no matter how much possession Wolves have.
I still fancy Nuno Espirito Santo’s side here, though. Palace are a good hard-working team, but Wolves are not just a good side, they are a classy one.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
DJ Target’s prediction: This is a hard one to call – Wolves are looking good again, but Palace have their moments. 1-2
Sheff Utd v Man City (12:30 GMT)
Manchester City got a good win in the Champions League in France on Tuesday but Marseille were not up to much.
This will be a bigger test. Sheffield United are still without a win in 2020-21 but they created lots of chances at Anfield in their defeat by Liverpool last time out.
That was arguably the Blades’ best performance of the season so far. I think they will be pretty direct again here, and they can cause City problems.
Ruben Dias has looked pretty solid in the City defence since he arrived at the end of last month, but this will be a decent test for him.
Lawro’s prediction: 0-2
DJ Target’s prediction: My wife’s from Manchester and she is a City fan – she has been since they were at Maine Road so she’s not a glory hunter. Sheffield United don’t do anything too fancy but they are tricky to beat – even so, I think City will up their game, especially after dropping points at West Ham last weekend. 0-2
Burnley v Chelsea (15:00 GMT)
Burnley are another side still waiting for their first win, but they do seem to be getting better. They created a few chances against Tottenham on Monday and they were a bit unlucky to end up being beaten.
I think the Clarets will get something out of this game, though. I’m not fully convinced by Chelsea at the moment, because I don’t think you can be.
Blues boss Frank Lampard is still tinkering with his personnel and formation. Yes, they did pretty well against Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend but it was without ever really looking like scoring.
One positive is that Thiago Silva is already looking the part at the back, and it is already looking like a case of Lampard working out who is going to play with him.
This will be Silva’s first visit to Burnley but he will obviously be told what to expect about the way the Clarets play. To be honest, though, they could just hang a crash helmet on his peg in the dressing room, and if he asks what it is about, just tell him that he will find out at 3pm on Saturday.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-1
DJ Target’s prediction: Chelsea will be too strong. 1-3
Liverpool v West Ham (17:30 GMT)
Without the injured Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool are playing a little bit like they know their back door is slightly ajar.
Fabinho’s hamstring injury in midweek clearly does not help in that department. He is extremely unlikely to play in this game, but at least it doesn’t look like he is going to be another long-term absentee.
Having Alisson back in goal is a big boost, but he doesn’t come for crosses so the Reds will need to find a way to deal with that.
West Ham have got their own injury problems too, though. Michail Antonio is their best striker but he is a big doubt after he was injured against Manchester City following his superb goal in that game.
Without him, West Ham will still be competitive but it is hard to see them getting anything out of this one.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
DJ Target’s prediction: I am going with Liverpool, although something tells me it won’t be a high score. Mohamed Salah to score the winner after 74 minutes – that sort of game. 1-0
Aston Villa v Southampton (12:00 GMT)
The more I see of Southampton, the more I like them. They were excellent against Everton, and put in a really good team performance.
They dealt with everything and stopped Everton from playing but they also looked lively up front. Che Adams and Nathan Redmond are a handful, and then you have your man Danny Ings, who scores for fun but works so hard with it.
This should be a good game but Leeds’ intensity proved a bit too much for Aston Villa last time out, and I think Saints will edge it.
Lawro’s prediction: 1-2
DJ Target’s prediction: 2-2
Newcastle v Everton (14:00 GMT)
Lucas Digne joins Richarlison in being suspended for Everton after his red card in their defeat against Southampton.
Everton have still made an excellent start to the season despite losing that game but I have a feeling they will end up empty-handed here too.
When they need a bit of luck, Newcastle seem to get it – against Tottenham and then Wolves, when they nicked a point from both.
Steve Bruce’s side hang in there in a lot of games, which is essentially what they did under previous manager Rafael Benitez too.
But Bruce is trying to be a bit more offensive at times in certain games, and I think we’ll see the Magpies create some chances on Sunday.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
DJ Target’s prediction: Everton will bounce back here. 0-3
Man Utd v Arsenal (16:30 GMT)
Arsenal defender David Luiz is out injured so I am not sure whether Gunners boss Mikel Arteta will stick with his system of playing three at the back without the Brazilian.
Arteta’s side have lost three of their past four league games but during that spell it is up front where they have not really been firing.
I am going with United here, even though they did not create much against Chelsea last week either.
Their 5-0 win over RB Leipzig was obviously a very good result in the end, but a flurry of late goals and a superb performance off the bench by Marcus Rashford put a bit of a gloss on it because there wasn’t much between the sides, certainly in the first half.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
DJ Target’s prediction: I’m not bothered about league positions because this early on I feel like the big teams are just getting started. I am going to go with Arsenal, though. Not having a crowd at Old Trafford makes a huge difference for a game like this – the history of both teams is so big, and the rivalry is so big that it will take another 20 years of both teams doing really average for people to forget about that. 1-2
Tottenham v Brighton (19:15 GMT)
Tottenham are absolutely flying at the moment and quite rightly everyone has been raving about how good the partnership is between Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min up front.
I’m glad Son is getting the recognition he deserves – he is two-footed, clever and lightning quick. Kane has been hugely impressive too, of course, just by dropping off a little bit deeper so he can’t be picked up, and he is kind of conducting the orchestra from there.
People have been asking why Dele Alli hasn’t been playing or Spurs – but we kind of know now, because at the moment it works without him.
Brighton have been playing pretty well too, and creating plenty of chances, but they only have one win to show for it so far and it is hard to make a case for them adding to that total on Sunday.
The Seagulls have to be a bit careful, because for all of their good play they keep dropping points against teams they should be beating. They are going to find things a lot harder against Spurs too.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-0
DJ Target’s prediction: There are times when Spurs can play some really good football but as an Arsenal fan you are not allowed to big that up, even if I see it. I just can’t enjoy it. 2-0
Fulham v West Brom (17:30 GMT)
Neither of these sides have managed a win yet, so they both have to see this as a chance to get their season up and running.
That should make it a decent game, because both teams will think they will go out and have a go.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
DJ Target’s prediction: This is going to be a scrap but I think West Brom will nick it. 0-1
Leeds v Leicester (20:00 GMT)
This is a real test for Leicester. The Foxes got a great win over Arsenal last weekend, with Jamie Vardy looking electric when he came on, but the Gunners don’t play with the same intensity as Leeds.
Leeds will still have to deal with Vardy, of course, but they have got Patrick Bamford banging in the goals too. His hat-trick against Aston Villa was absolutely top drawer.
Lawro’s prediction: 2-1
DJ Target’s prediction: Leeds just keep picking up good results and they look like they have been in the Premier League for years. 1-1
Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
How did Lawro do last time?
From last weekend’s Premier League games, Lawro got five correct results, including three exact scores, for a total of 140 points – his best of the season so far.
He beat legendary Style Council drummer Steve White, who got the same number of correct results but with two exact scores, for a total of 110 points – enough to put him top of the guest leaderboard.
GUEST LEADERBOARD 2020-21
|82||Lawro (average after six weeks)|
|60||Celeste, Caroline Weir|