Nacho Monreal wants Arsenal to take the first step towards their target of finishing in the Premier League top four by beating Manchester United on Sunday.
The Gunners host Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form side and currently sit a point behind the Red Devils – with a victory at the Emirates Stadium enough to take the hosts back into fourth place.
Unai Emery was appointed last summer with the remit of returning Arsenal to the Champions League after missing out on the top four in the last two seasons under Arsene Wenger.
They face a battle with United – unbeaten on the road since Solskjaer was named caretaker manager in December – and Chelsea, while north London neighbours Tottenham, third in the table, could be also be sucked into the fight.
Sunday’s game is the last time Arsenal will face a member of the so-called ‘Big Six’ this season and have a favourable run-in compared to their nearest rivals and Monreal is keen to move back up to fourth, as well as exacting some revenge for FA Cup defeat to United in January.
“We lost against them in a different competition, they beat us in the FA Cup playing at home but now we are fighting for the Premier League,” the Spain international told the club’s official website.
“Our target since the beginning of the season is to finish in the top four and play Champions League football next year.
“We have the opportunity to get our target and the first step is Sunday. We play against them and we need to forget what happened in the FA Cup and we need to refocus in the next game and try to get the three points because if we do it we will be on a higher step to get to our target.
“There are still nine games to go and it’s going to be really tough until the end of the season – and we cannot forget that there is another club in Chelsea.
“At the moment there are three clubs fighting for one place, but obviously if we get the three points on the weekend it will be perfect for us.”
Emery will be without Lucas Torreira after the midfielder was sent off in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Spurs.
Long-term injury absentees Rob Holding, Danny Welbeck and Hector Bellerin are still sidelined but Emery can call upon the rest of his squad on Sunday.
The Spaniard saw his side beaten 3-1 in Rennes on Thursday night to leave their Europa League hopes in the balance – meaning a top-four finish could become even more important in the quest for Champions League football.
The fixture is one that has been littered by a variety of flashpoints when the sides have met in the past. Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at how this grudge match has developed.
Old Trafford brawl leads to points deductions
The 21-man brawl which marred the meeting of the sides in October 20, 1990, had been coming. Arsenal felt aggrieved by the dismissal of David Rocastle during a 1987 meeting of the sides – Sir Alex Ferguson’s first encounter with the Gunners – and United’s Brian McClair was goaded by Nigel Winterburn after missing a penalty in a 1988 FA Cup tie.
It all boiled over in 1990, as McClair took exception to a Winterburn tackle to spark the melee.
The Football Association took a dim view, deducting Arsenal two points and Manchester United one. The Gunners overcame that punishment to claim the First Division title.
In your face (part one)
Arsenal defender Martin Keown could not contain his delight when Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a decisive late spot-kick in a match between the sides in September 2003.
He goaded the Dutchman, screaming in his face and hitting him on the back, having conceded the penalty with a foul on Diego Forlan.
The miss was about as close as the Gunners came to being beaten that season, when they became ‘the Invincibles’.
In your face (part two)
The next league meeting of the sides in October 2004 saw Arsenal’s 49-match unbeaten run finally come to an end.
On the pitch, it was 2-0 to United but off it, it became known as the ‘Battle of the Buffet’ after another skirmish in the tunnel included a slice of pizza being thrown at Ferguson.
In 2017 Cesc Fabregas admitted on Sky quizshow A League of Their Own he was the guilty man.
Fabregas confirmed the pizza hit Ferguson in the face and added: “I apologise Sir Alex, really didn’t mean to do that.”
See you out there
What's your favourite thing about Sheasy's goal at Highbury in 2005?— Manchester United (@ManUtd) 9 March 2019
Ours? His reaction when it goes in 😮😅 pic.twitter.com/Bhd3NeV1oq
Simmering tensions were evident again when the sides met at Highbury in February 2005.
United captain Roy Keane took exception to what he thought was Arsenal counterpart Patrick Vieira trying to intimidate Red Devils defender Gary Neville.
The incensed Irishman had to be calmed down by referee Graham Poll and repeatedly warned Vieira: “We’ll see you out there.”
United went on to win a thoroughly entertaining game 4-2 with a brace for Cristiano Ronaldo and the visitors sealing three points via John O’Shea’s audacious chip over Manuel Almunia.
Jorginho insists he receives no favouritism from Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri.
The Brazil-born Italy midfielder has been identified as the man key to putting the coach’s ‘Sarriball’ possession-based game into practice on the pitch.
Jorginho, who like Sarri joined Chelsea from Napoli in the summer, has been described as untouchable in the Italian’s line-up, but he denies that is the case.
“I’m not special. I have a completely normal relationship with Sarri,” he told The Guardian.
“I don’t go out for dinner with him. I don’t go round to his house. I am just a player who can help him do the things he wants his team to do.
“He’s shouted at me when I’ve got things wrong, just as he has everyone else. I certainly don’t consider myself to be his golden boy.”
Jorginho was on target in the west London derby victory over Fulham last weekend but he has been subjected to booing from the Stamford Bridge crowd, and missed a penalty in the shootout defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final last month.