Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Manchester United

One could say this is the best time for such a game because Arsenal have nothing to lose and can play without any pressure. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to say this is the worst time to play United because confidence of the players  must be really low and the visitors, who don’t need anything more than a draw, thrive in a defend and counter-attack environment.

I’m am pretty sure we are going to see the United bus parked at the Emirates with Nani, Rooney, and Hernandez looking for counter-attacking opportunities while doing their defensive bit. I don’t like this approach but in fairness Arsene can learn a lot from it to bring more balance to the way his Gunners play.

Arsenal will have to show significant improvement over recent outings in order to get three points from this one. We can be certain United will be much better organized than the likes of Sunderland, Blackburn, Liverpool, or Bolton. Any real scoring chances will come only if we can move the ball faster than we have been doing in the recent games. For that to happen, Cesc, Nasri, and Song will have to do much better.

As I had said a few weeks ago, in the final games of the season, it was going to be all about the performances of the big players. So far they have been disappointing. Even Djourou and Szczesny will have to offer a lot more at the back.

Walcott hasn’t played that often against United so it will be interesting to see how they stop him. I expect Park to be deployed on their left flank with instructions to double us as an extra left-back. That will mean that Rooney will play as an extra midfielder, a role he has performed admirably in the last few weeks of the season.

If Sagna can use the space that will be created for him by Theo, Arsenal can get some joy down the right.

I believe Nasri can offer a lot from the left against someone like O’Shea. But for that to happen, the Frenchman has to be prepared to take his man on and play in a more aggressive manner. He can and should test Van der Saar at every opportunity with RvP following up.

I’d also like to see Arsenal play a bit deeper than usual. It’s important to keep the possession in the middle third of the pitch rather than taking it to the wide areas in the final third. In such a game playing the tippy-tappy game in the wide areas is an open invitation to disaster. It leaves the middle exposed and United will inevitably get enough men behind to cut out the one-twos in those areas of the pitch. Even crosses from such positions will leave the team exposed down the middle. In order to use the wide areas effectively Arsenal will have to move the ball without too many touches or passes. Fabregas can be the key in this regard but Wilshere can also do the job.

Defensively, I’d like to see Song or Wilshere stay really close to Rooney. If Arsenal can reduce his influence during counter-attacks half the battle will be won. That will leave the central defenders to deal with Hernandez while Clichy deals with Nani.

The team selection should be pretty straightforward,

Szczesny – Sagna, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy – Song, Cesc, Wilshere – Walcott, RvP, Nasri.

As with all the big games, the first goal will have a big impact on how the match unfolds. If Arsenal can get one early this could be the end of the recent United hoodoo. Things could get a lot worse in the reverse scenario. I have a feeling this will be another dull 0-0 unless someone makes a blunder in either defence.

29 Responses to Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Manchester United

  1. Karthik says:

    I personally think this is a crucial game for us. A win could restore belief in our ranks. Belief that we can beat United and Chelsea, which is something we’ve lacked in recent meetings. We’ve shaken Chelsea off, if we can do the same to United, we’d be a lot better off next season. Not that this one is over yet 😀 😉

  2. tobeskie says:

    gud tot, but I wnt vermelean instd of djorou….i tink AW shd tink of denilson

    • santori says:

      Are you mad?

      Vermaelen over KOscielny maybe but not Djourou. In any case, TV is not quite ready.

      No Denilson. Why when we have Song, Jack, Diaby even and Ramsey. Ridiculous!:P

  3. Davi says:

    Do you think squillaci deserves another chance tomorrow? Djourou’s form has been poor recently, and the last 2 games I saw him, squillaci was really good.

    • santori says:


      Djourou was culpable against Bolton but he is s tronger than Squillaci.

      Our defense is at fault for many individual errors but I suspect this is compounded when we do not defend as a unit.

      As Desi says, we should stay more compact. Chosing our moments are key.

      • Davi says:

        Yes JD is stronger, but we’re going to be up against good movement up front. When on form, I have no problem with Djourou, I think he’s class, and will keep on improving, but his concentration has dipped recently, whereas squillaci has looked on his game. He may not be as strong as djourou in the upper body, but he is mentally tougher and more experienced, and crucially on better form.

  4. GoonerDave says:

    The team kind of picks itself for tomorrow really, though I still worry about Alex Song in these big games. He needs to be careful not to give silly free kicks away, because we will certainly be punished if he does.
    I think our work ethic has been poor recently, and if we can rediscover our pressing game we might stand a chance. But we will need to work our socks off to impose our style on Uniteds packed midfield.

    p.s. is it true Cesc dumped his girlfriend? This
    combined with the sale of his home is looking
    bad I think.

    • bc says:

      I think that means it is looking good, Cesc can go we need a new skipper and we cannot carry a player who just does not want to be here.

      How about Vermaelen instead of Song? If not a spot on the bench.

      And the people who want Squillaci and Denilson, sure and why not Rosicky, Almunia, Eboue, Bendtner!! drop me out.

      It aint over till the tart with the pink hat sings, we need to win this.

      • GoonerDave says:

        I know Cesc hasnt had his best season, but he is a top quality player, maybe our best.
        Shifting out deadwood is an easy way to improve the squad but if we lose Cesc, we need major surgery on the team. I know its a cliche, but we really are a team built around him.
        Agree on the Eboue and Almunia thing though. They are 2 players I think we need to say goodbye to.

      • Davi says:

        @GoonerDave – yes we are built around cesc, but is that a good thing? We got to 2nd in the league at about the halfway point with barely any contribution from fabregas, or van persie for that matter. We haven’t managed to win anything since we did start building the side around cesc, and we only really looked like doing so when he was paired with flamini in a 4-4-2 formation. We had to have a monster in midfield with him to make up for his lack of strength/defensive ability.
        I was actually asking for a change to 4-3-3 a while before we actually did it, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out well. Overall it suits fabregas, but seems to have made life a lot more difficult for almost every other player in the squad. I have little fear of cesc leaving, and would like to see us go back to 4-4-2, with nasri and wilshere on the wings so that they can offer better protection to our poor fullbacks who look a shadow of the pair who were voted best in the league in 2008 when they were given decent protection, mostly from hleb and rosicky. Bendtner has looked great when paired with a pacey strike partner, and vela has only ever looked really devastating playing off of a more powerful CF. I would also really love to see theo playing off of a CF. Our centre midfielders also seem to have struggled to adapt to the new formation, although I can’t really figure out why.
        We have to play to the strengths of the squad, not just fabregas.

      • Phil23 says:

        Some good talking points brought up by Bc, Goonerdave and Davi.

        If Cesc were to leave it would mean the end of an era. Arsene would have some big decisions on what to do next. I don’t see him abandoning his philosophy and therefore I don’t think we will change to a 4-4-2. This is a good option but would involve displacing our one remaining super loyal superstar Van Persie. Also I don’t think Nasri would be happy to move even deeper to left midfield although I could be wrong there. Lately both fullbacks have played well when Walcott and Nasri play on the wings. Sagna is still the best right back and Clichy is not far off from Evra or Cole. In regards to formation I think we will go to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 this means that the attacking midfielder would sit higher on the pitch. A player like Nasri would thrive in such a role as his dribbling skills would be a constant threat as well as playing off the shoulder of one of the best assister’s in the game (Although not as much this season) Van Persie. Having Nasri’s close control in the box will be vital when players park the bus for 90 minutes. This will of course leave us weaker defensively although Nasri is no Arshavin in defence and has more pace to track back than Cesc. If Cesc were to leave I would expect two players to come in and replace him, one of them being Hazard to take over the left wing. The other would be an experienced midfield general like Scott Parker. Being Arsene he would do it and still have a 20m surplus left over. It is becoming a delicate situation with Cesc. I think Arsenal will benefit either way in that we will keep one of the top players in the world or we will be reinforced with new talent. I personally think he will stay but we will see how it all unfolds. This could be our biggest transfer movement in a decade.

  5. WOLF says:

    Its been said that TV5 is starting tomorrow. Personally I think Koscielny is a bit better than Djourou, but the more balanced partnership for the future is Vermaelen and Djourou. That being said, since its Vermaelens first game back I think Koscielny brings more energy which would help TV5 return to fitness.

  6. Kayode Adeyemi says:

    Vermalin should start from the bench against manchester united. He should replace wilshere in the second half and play the left full back position and free clichy to go forward so that Nani or Valencia can be pecked back with the pace of Clichy similar to what Gale is doing for Tottenham United.

  7. Tahophiq says:

    @wolf i agree with everything you said.

  8. dw says:

    Sagna Dj Koss Clichy
    Song. Nasri
    Walcott Ashavin
    Wilsher has had a dip in form and he
    Needs break.

  9. Swagger says:

    That’s the problem! We already know the starting line-up and their positions. No tactical changes.

    • Waleed says:

      It’s obviously not as simple as that. If you want to make it that simple, then Arsenal and United will both play 4-5-1. Same tactics? No. Not even close.
      You can have the same player in the same position play differently. For example Nasri can either be told to stay very wide, or cut inside. He can be told to stay high up no matter what or always track back to defend the fullback. He could play deeper so he can help us keep possession, or he could be told to play more off the shoulder and make runs in behind the defence.
      There are a lot of nuances that can affected to change the way a player plays a certain position.

      And the team as a whole can play differently. With the same formation we could choose to play a bit deep and narrow, or high up and very wide. We could choose to press their defenders or or concentrate on cutting out the balls into midfield. We could focus on playing balls down the center or playing them wide and putting in crosses.

      And this is still just the surface of what “tactics” can encompass.

  10. TopCoach says:

    Why play the same lineup all the time? Shake it up, let Bendtner or Chamakh play, I bet Fergie has a plan for our lineup, do we have a plan for him? My team would be


    Lets trouble them properly, not play into their hands.

  11. alphie says:

    i know wenger has to be sensible but why shouldnt we field a real suprise from time to time….this is me dreaming.

    midfield….wilshire and cesc or song and cesc

    rvp in the hole,arshavin uptop, walcot on the left ,nasri on the right…. his pace would upset whoever is put there……

    manu are dominant on the right hand side,its the stronger arm…

    • Davi says:

      But evra plays on the left. They rarely concede from their left hand side.
      I agree that theo should play on our left – nasri has a vendetta against evra so might trouble him a few times, and theo’s pace would probably be more effective against rafael or whoever plays right back.

  12. Phil23 says:

    Come on Arsenal just put the first half-chance you get into the back of the net. Easier said than done but I believe we can do it! Gunner for life.

  13. […] Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Manchester United One could say this is the best time for such a game because Arsenal have nothing to lose and can play without any […] […]

  14. Jerryerunube says:

    I think the start in line up should be seczeny,kocienly,vermaleen,sagna,clichy,wilshere,cesc,song,walcot,nasri,v.persie. May be rosicky ,ramsy and arshavin.can start 4rm d bench

  15. goonergerry says:

    This is a tough one. Playing across the pitch in front of their back 4 is just asking to be picked off. We can win this one if we can play with speed,intensity and more directness and discipline at the back. Our so called good players have to deliver-and show the world there is some substance to them. Arshavin and Bendtner should play a role in this game.

  16. Wolfgang says:

    Mu will park the bus,that’s for sure. And Wenger will try to bang his head against the wall with passes everywhere.No wonder the gunners are called the best passes in the epl.But this tells another story.Despite 99% possession they are unable to win.
    Worst they concede too many goals when attacking.
    If Wenger plays the same way as befoer,the red faced cunt will rub his hands times 10. Because he knows it’s a sure winner. The gunner defence will go sleep/awol. Then Wenger is bewildered. Then it’s back to the drawing board with more of the same stuff until he is asked to quit.

  17. Mike gunner says:

    We all know the gunners like to play with the ball to feet.Arsenal score few goals with headers and from corners.Now the thing is the opposition knows how the gunners play ie passing all the way.So very few high balls.
    Wenger should spring a surprise and play anti soccer once the gunners have a lead and let the rd attack. If the red faced attack breaks down as all attacks do,launch a swift counter and not a marathon passing to get to the box.
    Shoot on sight and you never know. The gk may fumble and a lurking gunner could tuck it in. Make it simple and don’t overpass/overplay.
    The gunners are due a win against the red faced.

    • Davi says:

      What if we don’t get a lead. I think we should definitely sit back more and try to draw them out. If we just attack attack attack, unless we score a wonder-goal, they will soak it up and hit us on the counter, and probably win the game. Imo we would do better to play more of a 4-5-1, with nasri in particular playing a more withdrawn role on the left, and theo making his runs inside from the right. We need to find a way of making space.

  18. Kushagra India says:


  19. richie says:

    great result only wish we were the ones that had it to play for

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