Thoughts On Tactics And Starting Eleven Against Manchester United

On the back of two games where Arsenal  have lost after taking the lead, and with hardly any positive news on the injury front, a game against Manchester United is the last thing many would want. But that’s the game on the fixture list and the Gunners will just have to do as best as they can with diminished resources and wavering confidence. Liverpool lost again, embarrassingly some might say, while Chelsea have been held to a draw. At least one of Spurs and City will also drop points on Sunday. This is another opportunity for Wenger’s side to pull away from the teams immediately below them in the table and inch closer to those in front.

Unless one of the injured players recovers in time, Arsene will have very limited choices in terms of picking his starting line-up. The back five will probably be the same that started against Swansea. In the middle I would like to see Rosicky get a start if he is fully fit.

Up front there is no reason to leave Van Persie or Walcott out. The only position that seems debatable is wide on the left. Arshavin can make incisive contributions but those only make up a few moments in the game. For large parts when the team is defending he seems like a liability on the left and in this game especially, Miquel could struggle if he doesn’t get sufficient cover. Starting Benayoun on the flank might provide a better defensive option. The Israeli didn’t contribute enough in the previous game in midfield but he would be more comfortable on the wing. With Rosicky providing more and better movement/passing, Ramsey and Song won’t be overworked in midfield and will be less likely to make mistakes.

The problem with this selection is that Arsenal’s creative threat will not be as strong. United will mark the Gunners closely and it will be tough to find a way through anyway. Without enough players who can break them down Arsenal could struggle to score in this game. I have a feeling Arsene will start with the more creative option and make changes if a lead is to be protected late in the game.

Probable starting line-up,

Szczesny – Djourou, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Miquel – Rosicky, Ramsey, Song – Walcott, RvP, Arshavin.

My personal choice would be Benayoun on the left ahead of Arshavin but that seems unlikely considering Wenger’s generally attacking choices in the past. I’d also like to see the positions of Song and Rosicky swapped so that the Cameroonian stays more to the left. This will help the side defend better when Nani cuts inside. Miquel should have clear instructions to cover down the line and leave the job of defending the central runs to the midfield.

It will be interesting to see if Ferguson goes with Rooney and a striker or he plays an extra defensive midfielder. I haven’t watched some of their recent games so it’s hard for me to guess their current form based tactics.

United are a very competent counter-attacking unit and Arsenal will have to ensure they don’t leave the defence exposed against players who are comfortable running with the ball and have the skills to finish from distance or go past defenders in a one-v-one.

It would be wise to adopt the approach that Arsenal took in the tougher Champions League games. Keep things tight and hope for a mistake. Van Persie might be able to create some space for himself or Walcott might find a way to use his pace. Those are the options Arsenal should rely on in attack. The midfield should not push forward unless a clear opportunity presents itself and never in a manner that isolates the back four.

The Gunners are prone to making fatal mistakes or conceding freakish goals and it won’t surprise me if we see one or two hit the net behind Szczesny. A score draw seems the best possible result that Arsenal can realistically get from this game. That should at least keep the gap with Chelsea to a manageable four points. Wenger’s side will need a generous dose of luck if they are to win this game.

Before ending, since I have received a few queries about this, I want to add that everyone is welcome to send their articles for publication. I don’t have any guidelines or rules for that but would only like to publish articles that fit the general theme of the blog. Essentially, any article that provides some food for thought will be appreciated. You can also write to me and discuss your thoughts before sending in any articles. My email is mentioned in the sidebar on the Right.

Here’s to a Manchester side winning the first game of the day and losing the second one. Here’s to hope – the quintessential human delusion!

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

  1. AK 47 says:

    The manager knows we need a quality signing before this fixture and he turns a blind eye, so there is no need to be concerned. He gets pay to do a job which he is clearly incompetent and still retain his job, the balance sheet is fine so who cares about the score…

  2. alemseged says:

    arsenal 1 man u 3, go to down

  3. alemseged says:

    arsenal 1 man u 3

  4. Shahr says:

    If Wenger plays his pass and pass and try to walk through the red faced defence,get ready for another beating.The same tactics were used in the epl and cl when Ronaldo was around. It was so pathetic.
    All Mu had to do was concede possession and hit on the break with devastating speed.Unless Wenger changes tactics and plays the red faced at his own game,a defeat is almost certain with such a poor defence. Of course it’s not all doom and gloom.Bolton beating Pool shows how unpredictable football is.
    If Arsenal lose and are denied cl berth come May,Wenger should go. Arsenal should get someone with a different approach. Wenger has been given a generous amount of time to turn things round. His philosophy aint working and yet he is loath to change it.The evidence points otherwise. If he is not discharged he will cause irreveresible damage to Arsenal whowill take years to recover.
    Btw there are many top class managers hanging around with hp.If things don’t improve come May,that’s it.At any otherclub the Fm would have been axed years ago.Hhe is leading a charmed life so far but it it can’t go on indefinitelyy.

    • Waleed says:

      A ridiculous comment. When we faced them in the EPL we were always behind them in the table, hence needing to get 3 points. So they always had the advantage in terms of tactics because they didn’t need to win as much as we did. They knew we had to push forward and so sitting back was an option.
      In the CL semi final if you remember the first leg we were completely outplayed and we were the team playing on the counter attack.
      In the home leg we had to push forward and attack, and we had to take the risk of leaving space for counter attacks.

      And what kind of different approach do you want? Do you want us to NOT pass the ball well? Do you want us to play long ball?

      Our team is severely depleted due to injuries at the moment and that is the only reason we have of worrying. Otherwise we are a better team than United at the Emirates and would beat them handily like we did last time.

      • Zgunner says:

        I agree totally. Our only problem is injuries. We haven’t retained a team consistently especially in defense, and we still haven’t played our best 11.

        I am not with the Wenger Should Buy Brigade.

  5. irish gooner says:

    3-2 arsenal RVP,,WALCOTT,SONG

  6. Shahr says:

    The ref is Mike Dean. Arsenal have not won a single game in the ten matches he has officiated.This record can’t go on forever. I believe in the law of averages.A draw ,in the present circumstances,would do.A win would be a bonus.
    Same with Man City . Ten successive win s could be stopped with hopefully a draw.
    Wenger blames bad luck,refs,etc. He doesn’t blame himself and his system.I believe in renewal as in all comapnies. The ceo goes and another comes to replace him if the company results are poor.Frankly Wenger is lucky to work in such a company.
    I believe his luck can’t last longer if he fails to lift the gunners to the cl berth.This due to his neglect of the defence by getting substd players.
    This can’t go any more if the gunners continue to lose to teams like Fulham and Swansea. Both these teams were destroyed by the MU.
    As for the defence,watch how teams in the relegation zone fight like tigers. Now the gunners could do with a bit of the tigerish attitude ie closing down Rooney and company. Other wise this guy will cause havoc if given time and space repeat time and space as if Wenger doen’t know these are vital ingerients if a striker needs to score.

    • Flavour says:

      Wenger blames ref? But the figure shows for itself that we have ref making most of the important calls against us. How can the truth be a blame? It is the truth and it is time clubs start sueing the FA for serious misconduct. See back and rewatch the match or visit Untold Arsenal after a match to see the collection of data then you will know the great injustice against Arsenal and Wenger.

      Everyone assumes he blames the ref. no one agrees that there is great injustice against Arsenal in the entire league. You must be blind not to see this so if you need a free voucher for spec savers let me know

  7. Alex says:

    The importance of this weekend’s clash cannot be underestimated!

    the most interesting battle will be between Arsenal’s fullbacks and United’s wingers. Miquel and Djourou must put in a good shift if they are to keep United’s wingers at bay. Mertesacker and Koscielny are a solid CB partnership so no problems there. If the defence has a good game then I think the gunners can definately take away 3 points and move within 2 points of 4th place.

  8. JCVD says:

    Looking at the team lineup and Djourou and Miquel as full-backs fills me with dread. Think Nani and/or Valencia could run rings around them to be honest and the pace and movement of Welbeck or Hernandez will cause Mertesacker problems. Badly needed Sagna-Koscielny-Vermaelen-Santos for this one.

  9. Ben says:

    Shit, Mike Dean is the referee? We’ve lost before a ball has even been kicked.

  10. JJ Pittman says:

    Since everyone expects us to lose, we can play loose or tight. Don’t think they will get 8 this time. Play under control and hope for a lucky bounce or two. They miss Vidic and Ashley Young. We are better than we were in August. Just hope the Ginger Prince doesn’t hurt anyone! COYG

  11. Shahr says:

    Yes I expect the gunners to pass but not pass all day thereby giving
    the defenders time to regroup. Why not shoot from outside the box
    when there are less defenders.Arsenal are one of the few teams trying to play like Barca.This the epl,get real.
    As I have said if it’s passing all day,get ready for another defeat.I just hope Wenger changes tack and prove me wrong.

  12. VanTheManPersie says:

    The team looks fair enough. Arshavin although capable of a moment og magic, would be better suited as sub as initially the pace of the game has been traidionally high with both teams closing each other down and with less time and space he has struggled not to mention benayoun is also a better defensive cover.
    DOnt expect any goals in the first half, hoping united dont score froma set piece. If welback plays along with rooney, they both can cause problems, but fergie might play with valencia and nani and keep welback on the bench and play another DM. United’s tactics would be the same. Fergie mentioned in the interview after the old trafford game that they had planned to attack the arsenal defense bbecause of lack of experience and they will do the same again from the wings. RVP has a point to prove as, even discounting the penalty miss, he had a poor game along with rosicky. The rest werent experienced and folded under the pressure. It will be interesting to see schezzer performance as he has been guilty ona couple of occasions in recent games and rooney and company will shoot from distance.

  13. arv says:

    Henry to get the winner 2 to 1

  14. Celina says:

    Well with the form man united are,they will play us but i strongly believe arsenal will not take it likely with them.i expect this line-up:szency-djoru,kosh,vaminator,migue-rosky,song,ramsey-chamberlay,rvp,assasin

  15. erenvp says:




    walcott-vp-arshavin this is a team good enough for the win and with benayoun,henry,chamberlain on bench we got a good chance

  16. Kayciey says:

    This is how easy it is playing against an Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal team these days and this would be my tick list if I was going up against our team:

    1) They always use 4-3-3 formation and nothing else.

    2) They play a extremely high defensive line which we can easily get behind with the pace of Mertesacker.

    3) They always pick the same players.

    4) They will only shoot inside the 18 yard box, so defenders you know when to expect a shot and when not to.

    5) They always, ALWAYS make a sub on the 67th minute for some reason and it’s always Rosicky who hasn’t scored a goal in 2 years and has hardly any assists so that shouldn’t be a problem.

    6) Hold the ball up around Song, he will put a foot in on more than one occasion and almost certainly be yellow carded. Meaning you’ll then take away a big part of his game after that.

    7) Stay deep on Theo Walcott or double up on him, he hasn’t been coached properly or played in the correct position under Arsene Wenger so he has zero ability to get past you.

    8)Cool Shut down Van Persie shut down Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal

    9) Play ALL our set pieces into the Arsenal box, they STILL have no idea how to defend!!

    10) Once we’re winning, shut up shop, After 7 years they still have no idea how to break teams down even with 10 men.

  17. Poptimist says:

    I desperately don’t want Rosicky to play. I have no idea where the idea comes from that he is useful defensively, although perhaps it is because he hasn’t done anything attacking-wise for years. That being said, Benny is much more effective on the wing and we don’t really have an alternative in CM atm.

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