Manchester United must beat Arsenal on Saturday if they are to finish in the top four, former United and England midfielder Ray Wilkins has told Sky Sports.
United are sixth in the Premier League, six points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, going into Saturday’s game.
They have already failed to win three games against teams currently in the top four, losing at Chelsea and at home to Manchester City and drawing at Liverpool.
Wilkins, who played for United from 1979 to 1984 before joining AC Milan, said: “Manchester United cannot afford to let Arsenal win at the weekend.
“Arsenal will bounce clear and you can’t be giving teams three-game swings at this stage of the season.
“For United to finish in the top four they’ve got to beat Arsenal on Saturday, and it’s going to be tough.”
United suffered a run of four successive league games without a win in October, taking just three points in total, but ended that bad spell with a 3-1 win at Swansea City on Nov 6.
Midfielder Michael Carrick made his first league start of the season against the Swans, and Wilkins believes he needs to play again on Saturday.
Wilkins said: “I don’t think United have controlled many games. I think, with Carrick in the side, that’s the only option they have to get some semblance of control and a bit of serenity.
“He sees the game so well, he can hit long passes and, if United are going to push up and attack Arsenal, you’re going to need that guy, with all his knowledge, to stop counter-attacks.
“I think Michael will have to play for United to have a good chance.”