Thoughts On Tactical Aspects And Starting Eleven For The United Game

I’m finding it a bit difficult to make up my mind for this game. I can see Arsenal scoring three goals and I can also imagine us conceding three or four. Goes without saying that anything in between also seems quite possible. We could get a tight win, an exciting draw, or another in the string of bad losses against United.

If someone asks me “can Arsenal win at Old Trafford?” the answer would be ‘certainly, they can’. If the question is “will Arsenal win against United?” the answer would be ‘I’ve no idea’. A lot will depend on which arsenal turns up and how they play for the whole of ninety minutes.

Obviously, the ref will be a key man in such a game. My theory is that Howard Webb will allow some rough/physical tackles in the first half and will get a little strict in the second half as things heat up. Tactically Arsenal should be aware of this and must be prepared from some annoying challenges from Fletcher and Co. We should also use this to our advantage by being more aggressive initially especially against the likes of Rooney and Nani.

Another interesting tactical aspect will be the starting line-up that Fergie picks from the full squad that he has available. Recently, he’s gone with five across midfield against Arsenal and has relied on counter attacking football. That would mean no place for Berbatov in the starting line-up. Alternatively he could play Rooney in a deeper role and leave the Bulgarian up top. I hope he goes with the latter option as that is more positive and will allow for a more open game.

Similarly, and more important than any other tactical option, Arsene Wenger’s choice for the advanced midfield position will be critical. We must not play Van Persie there like we did in a couple of recent games. I don’t have anything against RvP but he just won’t have the work rate required from that position in a game of such intensity.

Another crucial factor would be the attitude with which Arsenal approach this game. I’d like to see a more sedate and patient style rather than a gung-ho approach that we have seen in the past. It’s extremely important that we don’t concede an early goal and preferably don’t concede one in the first half.

Man United have taken a lead into halftime in all their home matches so far this season and only West Brom were able to make a comeback that was largely down to a goalkeeping howler. In contrast, away from home Arsenal have gone in behind at the halfway mark only once and that was in the loss at Stamford Bridge.

Ideally we would not like to see individual mistakes or lapses in concentration but if that happens and Arsenal concede, it would be extremely important to maintain focus and continue playing in a patient, disciplined manner. This United team is a not at its best and we will undoubtedly get chances during the game. And we have to take the chances when they come. Thinking along similar lines I’m also hoping the hosts will be as wasteful against us as they were against Valencia.

Arsene has to get his starting eleven right and I’m thankful the responsibility of making the tough choices does not lie on my shoulders.

At the back I’ll go with the same five who finished the game against Fulham. I like Koscielny but in my opinion he lacks the experience to play in such a game. Djourou and Squillaci will provide a better balance. Sagna, Clichy and Fabianski are certainties anyway.

In the middle, I hope to see Wilshere and Song behind Rosicky. I’m also tempted by the thought of Nasri down the middle but it would not be a wise move to change his position once again.

Up front, Arsene is spoilt for choice and this is where he has to earn his salary. To be honest, I can’t make up my mind on the best combination. I love seeing Van Persie in a central striker position but he’s rarely played there this season. Arshavin can make a big impact but he also weakens the left side for Nani to exploit. Nasri seems like the only certainty.

I’d say we should start with the Nasri – Chamakh – Arshavin trio as they’ve played together more often. Van Persie and Walcott can come in later to make an impact if the need arises.

So the starting line-up in my mind is,

Fabianski – Sagna, Squillaci, Djourou, Clichy – Song, Rosicky, Wilshere – Nasri, Chamakh, Arshavin.

With two first choice midfielders missing this midfield is not as strong as the ones we have had in the past for this fixture. I don’t expect Arsenal to dominate possession or dictate play for large parts of the game unless United play with an extremely cautious style.

It will be imperative for the front six to do their defensive jobs. I’d like to see Chamakh rotate a lot with Arshavin and help out Clichy on the left when we don’t have the ball.

I’ll close by saying it’s important not to have  too high expectations from this game. I’ll not be concerned by the result of the game as long as we don’t end up discussing basic mistakes or the referee. Hopefully we’ll challenge the opponents to win rather than gifting them the points. I’ll be happy with that kind of a performance irrespective of the result. At the end of the day I want to say ‘Well Played Arsenal/United’ and not ‘WTF’.

44 Responses to Thoughts On Tactical Aspects And Starting Eleven For The United Game

  1. Honest Bill says:

    I shouldn’t imagine we’ll see Berbatov starting. He doesn’t have the workrate to play that role in this game. Fergie will favour all his quickest and strongest players to harry us into losing our rhythm.

    I expect to see Park Ji Sung, Fletcher, Nani all pressing us in midfield with all their energy. It will depend entirely on the mentality of our midfielders. If they approach the game confidently, United will run out of steam and gaps will begin to open up.

    We have the quality to do it. I’d go with RVP for this one to be honest. He will up his workrate 150% to play against United. He’s got a winning mentality that guy, and you know what? when it comes to making that crucial pass or decision in the final third, RVP is the man you want to put your money on.

    Having said that, Chamakh has his own strengths too, such as a bit more power and a better motor. He could be crucial to running United’s defence all over the place to make space for our midfield runners. Not to mention providing a genuine aerial threat. United may well compact their defense quite a lot, so balls into the box may be plentiful.

    As you said, a rather difficult choice to make. Both have their own strengths, i just feel that RVP makes our fluid game link up so well, his rhythm is perfectly in synch with our game at times.. In fact i think i would be tempted to play him in the advanced MF role actually. I’d say he has as good a motor as Cesc and the same kind of vision.

    • desigunner says:

      I guess I didn’t express the argument against RvP in a midfield role correctly. We did have a discussion on this after the Partizan game so I didn’t go into the details. Work rate is perhaps not the right way of putting it.

      I expect the advanced midfielder to contribute a lot in terms of tippy-tappy passing, Dropping deep, bringing the ball out, playing simple one twos, resisting pressure and maintaining possession. RvP seems to look for the killer pass more often than not. It’s difficult to visualize him doing this grinding work in midfield. Also difficult to see him chasing back and tackling without conceding dangerous free kicks.

      In terms of distance covered and sprints etc he might have fantastic work rate but will he be able to do the unglamorous part of the game for long periods is a doubt I can’t eliminate from my mind.

      If we can have the Van Persie of last season start nothing better than having him in the central attacking role. Arsene will have to decide on that based on the performances in training I guess.

    • santori says:

      I can see Desi’s point with RVP being a slight liability defensively BUT I am in agreement with you that we should have our big player and best creative force out there for this sort of match.

      Wilshere and Song will have to be watertight and the second line must work as a unit to press and harry United high up in their own half.

      What worries me is the ball over the top. We keep playing the high line and Fergie will try and get his men to catch us out. Communication between the backs and the keeper will be ultra critical.

      Whilst Koscielny packs speed for these sort of instances, seems to me Squillaci and Djourou have worked out a better understanding due to constant games together. They may be the better pairing to play.

  2. samir nasri says:

    to many fans will look to the result unfortunately

    but i see your point, i want to be proud of the game

  3. HexyDre says:

    Like you said, I hope AW gets the starting 11 right and I’m sure he will. There is the possibility of Cesc starting tomorrow, not exactly ruled out and I have a feeling he would….although I would rather go with your starting line-up with Cesc, Theo, RvP etc on the bench.
    I won’t really be bothered about tomorrow’s result since it’s not a season deciding one (although a win would make my week, a draw would do the same too), I’m more interested in our performance and fighting spirit tomorrow. I don’t even wanna think more than this or about how ManUre would try to play us…
    Tomorrow can’t come soon enough, we can get something from Old Trafford. Come on you Gunners!!

    • desigunner says:

      Yeah I’d somehow assume Cesc won’t be risked but that’s a flawed assumption based on Arsene’s recent record of playing his big players if there is a chance.

  4. sam says:

    Apart from the ref, the second most important player this season (in our defeats) has been Clichy. He’s not alone, but a number of goals have come from his inattentive play — from clearing the ball off Kos against Sunderland to losing out badly in 60-40 challenges (60 for him!). If he’s on form then we can get something. The third most important player is Arshavin, especially if he matches up against da Silva. On his game he could take that boy apart, but Rosicky then really needs to be able to find a goal to take advantage of the opportunities Arshavin creates.

    I am with you Desi, I think this one could go lots of ways, and am not going to bother with the scenarios of whether Rooney, Anderson, or Nani have great games, or not. But surely big names have to step up tomorrow so we’ll learn a lot about our boys title chances this season.

    • desigunner says:

      Clichy will have to come up with a big game no doubt. I do feel recently his form has been improving so hopefully it will continue on the upward curve.

      Arshavin V Da Silva should be fun. The United kid is talented but he makes a lot of mistakes. I won’t be surprised if Fergie goes with Wes Brown or O’shea on the right.

  5. santori says:

    Hard one to call Desi.

    We will be second even if we lose but we have a chance to go clear with daylight.

    I think it’s wortha slight risk to play RVP from the start.

    Whilst there is good reason to err on the side of caution, we need big players to come into a big game like this and I think Arsharvin, RVP and Nasri just behind CHamakh is the sort of line up we need to cull a win here.

    United will expect us to be on the front fott and take us on the counter. I think though that offense is the best form of defense given the fact we are not as watertight at the back.

    So long as we have Song and Wilshere breifed thouroughly as to their particular duties :

    1) Be competitive in midifeld

    2) One of them has to be covering when the other is carrying the ball forward always.

    I don’t see RVP lasting an entire 90 nor AA so at some point (60 mins), we should have Walcott on for RVP with Nasri switching into a more central role behind Chamakh.(Similarly, Rosicky on for AA)

    This particularly IF we have a lead in which case we should move into a 4-4-1-1 with Nasri acting as link man to Chamakh and Walcott providing an outlet out right. In essence we will be playing the counter against United at that point.

    Anyway its all to play for and I hope we nick the win.

    Come on! Up the Gunners!:D

  6. Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

    Having watched a few Manure games this season, I have remarked three things:

    1) United tire if they are made to work at a high rate..
    2) They are exceptionally good on the counter-attack and fast as well but if their striker(s) are isolated,they walk alot..
    3) Their real strength is their defense with,in my opinion the best back 5 in the EPL but they are error prone when teams attack them from the bopx on in and from the far left and right sides.

    This will, I feel, be a game of attrition…starting out very physically and with Manure trying to get into the Arsenal players’ heads like they’ve done so successfully in the past. Our back 4 MUST be very aggressive in forcing play diagonally and in anticipating and attacking Manure strikers or midfielders in our last 3rd.

  7. Filip says:

    I would be more confident with a fit 6ft4in Diaby in midfield rather than an 18 year old 5ft7in player who started playing in defensive role 15 matches ago.

    • desigunner says:

      I’ve come to expect that against the big teams we won’t have out best line-up and they’ll almost always have theirs. United have their full squad available this weekend and Chelsea are getting Lampard and Drogba back just as we are about to play them 🙂 Of course we have to beat their best sides and we should not rely on injuries to opponents, but it’s just a thought… why doesn’t the reverse happen that often?

  8. adam says:

    Desi gunner.
    i agree 100% with your line up.
    rosicky is under-rated by some arsenal fans but his defence-splitting passes are vital for this match.

    with your line up, i would replace arshavin with walcott

    —————-Van Persie—————-

    or an alternative line up

    —————-Van Persie—————-

    with rosicky and chamakh coming on the pitch as impact subs to win the game.

  9. 8 inch knob says:

    ……………..Van Persie…Rosicky……………..


  10. Dark Prince says:

    I’d go with a 4-1-3-2 combination. Van Persie and Chamakh as strikers, with Nasri,Cesc, Rosicky in midfield and Song in defensive midfield. We have to be more attacking. 2 strikers and 3 passing middielers will do the job.

    And one word for Song- this is not the type of match where you should go forward every now and then. The back 5 needs protection.

  11. Raghugovind says:

    Wojciech Szczesny is set to be the goalkeeper in this match according to ESPN .

    • desigunner says:

      Is Fabianski injured? if that’s true, it will be some Premiership debut for the youngster!

      • HexyDre says:

        WoW! Now, that would be something, innit? I have this feeling nothing (no goal) can get past that crazy Pole!

      • desigunner says:

        He’s played three first team games so far for Arsenal and 3 clean sheets 🙂

        This is from his latest tweet

        “…I am more then prepared for Rooney tomorrow… :)” Love his confidence.

      • Joe says:

        Apparently, Fabianski picked up a ‘leg’ injury, which is why Szchezz will start. Its gonna be a trial by fire for Woj.

      • AnonymousGun says:

        An interesting situation if he survives he baptism, isnt it?

      • desigunner says:

        A very, very interesting situation indeed. And he will have to survive if Arsenal are to win because in the history of the premier league Arsenal have never scored more than one goal at OT!

  12. Sonu says:

    This game I feel is not about which team is in form but just about who wants it more.This game will not really decide who wins the League but the bragging rights are up for grabs. Talkin of which, Evra has been doing a lot of that as usual. Nasri has responded saying he would like to do his talking on the pitch. For me the team that’s quicker out of the blocks and shows no fear is going to win. Another vital aspect is making the right substitutions. I feel Wenger just delays too long over his substitutions and has a tendency to wait for the 60 min mark irrespective of how badly a player is doing on the pitch which is bloody frustrating.
    That’s about all I expect from this game.
    May the best team win.
    C’mon Arsenal

    • Manav says:

      “I feel Wenger just delays too long over his substitutions”

      That’s something I’ve always found inexplicable. And I won’t hide the fact that I’m not always happy with the substitutions he makes.
      Yes, the hungrier team will win this bout.

  13. Manav says:

    “Hopefully we’ll challenge the opponents to win rather than gifting them the points. I’ll be happy with that kind of a performance irrespective of the result. At the end of the day I want to say ‘Well Played Arsenal/United’ and not ‘WTF’.”

    You’re right. At the end of the day, every fan wants to watch a thrilling game of end-to-end football.

  14. Damnit says:

    If cesc starts, i would love to see rosicky taking over the role wilshere has playde so far. We must keep the ball well and im afraid our little english boy doesnt have the strenght and experience to power through a full 90mins vs manunited.

  15. Manav says:

    The only thing that’s bothering me is that Fletcher & Co. may try to kick Arshavin out of the game. If they could do it to a bigger guy like Reyes, they can certainly pull that trick off against a smaller fellow. Plus, there is this news that Scholes is also gonna start. If anyone has carefully watched what Man Utd do when they get corner or the ball is around the corner flag, then they will be aware of how they bring Scholes into action. I’m sure this a drill they practice in every session. One of their players plays a long pass to Scholes who has , by this time, already taken up a position on the line dissecting the goals, so that he has the best possible angle to shoot. And shoot he does, with ferocious power, and amazing accuracy. I’ve seen him score countless times in that fashion. He knows he will get the ball so he just moves into position, and waits there, ready to pull the trigger. Song/Wilshere will have to mark him tight.

  16. Solo says:

    u spot on wiv ur starting line up there.i’d be tempted to play Nasri in è midfield 3 and play RvP in the role he play 4 th Dutch thats wide ryt of the attacking 3.i wouldnt take the gamble wiv Cesc,win draw or lose…there is still a long way to go.but if we dont beat Manure 2dae,an unbeaten season cud be on è cards!i’d love 2 c Djouro at the back,i thnk we benefit from him being there coz ö è simple fact that è back 5 communicates better wen 2 of them are not French speaking!
    Great feeling bout the game though,bring it on…We Are The Arsenal!

  17. AnonymousGun says:

    For me, the team selecion for this game almost picked itself based on AW’s selecion.. The only main dilemma is that Advance Midfield role, Where he must decide wether playing RvPis detrimental to the team play as a whole, or play TR7. RvP is clearly first choice, but he still trying to find his footing in the current team.

    The rest really are fixed. AW will NOT drop AA23 and SN8 from the wing, its not even a question. with Diaby injured, the mid 2 will see JW and Song, I love Denilson, but even I cant see him against ManU. Not when you have thugs waiting for him, OTOH, I’ll be surprise if he wasnt in lineup against Bar”cunt”lona.

    Back 5 (saved injury) I think we have Fab, Sagna, Squid, Kossy, and Clichy as usual. I’ll be very surprise if JD starts.

    2nd half we probably see TW14 replacing AA, which will bring SN to the left

  18. Sen says:

    i would play arshavin in the advance midfield role… because thats his natural position…. it should be somewhat like this
    ——————-Wojciech Szczesny——————

    Sagna —— Koscienly ——— Djourou —— Clichy

    —————- Song ——— Wilshere/Cesc ——–

    ——————- Andre Arshavin ——————-

    Nasri —————- Chamakh ———— Van Persie

  19. paiko amama says:

    left to me i think this wuld be a great test 4 our boyz especially Szchez,though i believe he is up to the task.i wuld love 2 see a 4matn like 4-2-3-1,kolcheny(has a better pace 2 compete wit rud boy n nani,more composed in big matches also gud in air) pairing squil,jack n song,then arsasin,rosicky,nasri wit chamakh top strikin.
    Sub-van persie(rosicky or jack),walcott,bendtner(if d going gets tough).eboue(around 80 mins to hold d ball n cause free kicks ie if ar leading).
    Wel,above al i see us dealing with manure n nasri replyin evra d way bale replied ferriera on d pitch of play.
    I luv u al n wil remain a GUNNER til i take in my last oxygen

  20. Henry XIV says:

    Hello everyone,
    The starting XI is important, but more important will be the spirit, patience, belief, hard-work, focus and determination IMO.
    As for the formation, my priority would be to include both RvP and Chamakh in attack, yet still give protection to the back 5, especially Clichy.

    If Fabianski isn’t fit then czeczsny will do. Tell me what you think of this:


    it could be considered slghtly too attacking, but if we press them well, keep them busy, and defend for each other then we can pull it off.
    We have to remain disciplined and NOT commit too many players forward (full backs Song) unless necessary.
    We love you Arsenal
    We do

    come on you reds/yellows 😀

  21. dw says:

    . . . . . . . . . . . . .szczesny
    Sagna. . . . Suillacci . .djouroue. . Clichy
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . Song. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    . . . . . Nasri . . . . . . .jack/fabragas. . . . .
    Van persie . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ashavin. . . .
    . . . . . . . . . . . . Chamakh. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Vp and ashavin have to start they are big game players

  22. Edmond Dantes says:

    Many people want Walcott to start but I think he should be introduced as a second half sub possibly for Arshavin. That is, if Arshavin is not having a good game. Arshavin is a big game player so hopefully he will deliver a better performance than we saw against Partizan.

  23. Edmond Dantes says:

    I would also like Van Persie playing upfront by himself flanked on either side by Nasri and Arshavin. Then behind the attacking trio we can have Song and one of either Fabregas (if fit)/Rosicky/Wilshere.

    I think Chamakh’s form has cooled a bit in recent weeks.

    Now all we can do is wait and hope.

  24. Honest Bill says:

    I see your point Desi about RVP, and he’s not exactly the kind of player who you would want dropping deep and picking the ball up from our defense. If he played that position it would be necessary for Wilshere, or Denilson, or whoever plays that position, to be very disciplined and be the one to come back and transition the ball into attack.

    I believe Wilshere or Rosicky will be best suited to play there as they can both turn on a dime, keep their cool in tight spaces, and distribute quickly and incisively.

    We never know though, Fabregas might yet play

    • claver says:

      If Man U play a pressing game they will lose. They don’t have the best defensive midfielders, unless with a little help from Webb they are given free rein to foul.

      I think this game may be a little too much for Wilshere, no doubt if he plays Ferguson will tell Fletcher or Anderson to press him tight so that he gives slow, late or forced passes. You just cannot buy experience.

      If Wenger wants to win, Walcott and Van Persie will play. VP will bring Walcott into play and force Evra on the back foot. Walcott will stretch the defence and
      provide opportunities for VP

      Sczecny (looks like?)
      Sagna Squillaci Djourou Clichy
      Song Denilson
      Nasri Fabregas Rosicky
      Van Persie

  25. Phil23 says:

    We will win this one on depth. I’d like us to start with Van Persie out there simply because him or Cesc need to be playing. Subs of Cesc, Chamakh and Walcott will surely have a great effect on the outcome.

    • claver says:

      Just some thoughts…don’t mind me if I spew rubbish.

      Not a single Utd player got a yellow card. If I was a betting man I’d make serious money off Webb.

      Tactically, Wenger needs to fire either himself or Pat Rice. Why start with Wilshere? Is there an X-factor that Wenger is hoping to get out of playing Wilshere? His performances are precisely the kinds Denilson was making 2yrs ago, fittingly for his age. But disheartening for those of us who expect Arsenal to win the league and a trophy.

      Where is the ruthless attitude? The kind of attitude that says we want to win?

  26. […] Thoughts On Tactical Aspects And Starting Eleven For The United Game I’m finding it a bit difficult to make up my mind for this game. I can see Arsenal scoring three goals and I can also […] […]

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