Bengaluru, December 4: Manchester United will have play at the top of their game as they host a resurgent Arsenal in a crunch Premier League fixture on Wednesday (December 5).
Jose Mourinho's men are currently low on morale and they can hardly draw any inspiration from their recent performances at home -- an insipid goalless draw against Crystal Palace and an unconvincing late Champions League victory over Swiss side Young Boys.
On the other hand, Arsenal are on a roll, having gone 19 games unbeaten in all competitions since losing their first two matches of the season, and under Unai Emery, are playing a thrilling brand of aggressive, high-pressing football, which was conspicous by its absence in the Arsene Wenger era.
Words and action
After Arsenal's comeback win over Tottenham fans have started to believe the club can win their first league crown since they lifted the title in the 2003-04 season under Wenger.
According to Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira, the manager's words are making as much of an impact as his actions -- as evidenced by his half-time team talk before the Gunners recovered to beat Tottenham 4-2.
"He told us to be calm," Torreira said. "We listened to the manager and we improved many things. That worked for us to get the victory.
Arsenal made a slow start to the season under new coach Emery, losing their opening two matches, but that can be consigned to history after a real statement of intent at the Emirates.
Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's brace and strikes from Alexandre Lacazette and Torreira helped the Gunners cancel out goals from Eric Dier and Harry Kane and extend their unbeaten run to 19 games in all competitions.
Fourth-placed Arsenal's newfound resilience has come as a breath of fresh air for supporters who have long been forced to watch their team capitulate under pressure in former boss Wenger's final months in charge.
The mood in the United camp is very dull at the moment. Mourinho needs to lift United's morale quickly as a deflating run of performances threatens to throw their season off track completely.
The way things are going, even a top-four finish in the Premier League looks unlikely and Mourinho himself appears to believe that is now a long shot with his team lagging eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
Mourinho's frustrations are spilling on to the pitch. The Portuguese manager claimed his players, with the exception of Marcus Rashford, were meek, lacking the spirit of what he called "mad dogs".
According to Duncan Castles, a British journalist with close links to Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes, the United manager compared midfielder Paul Pogba to "a virus" after another poor performance at Southampton, saying the France international lacked respect for both his team-mates and fans.
Under the circumstances, United, who are struggling down in seventh place with 22 points after 14 games need to raise the bar as a cracker of a contest is the offing.
Manchester United vs Arsenal at Old Trafford Stadium
Wednesday, December 5, 8pm local time (1.30 am IST, Thursday, December 6)
Live on Star Sports Select