Arsenal vs Manchester United
Matchday 7 • 1/10/2020
Two big giants of the game face off at Old Trafford on Matchday 7. Arsenal vs Manchester United, North vs South. Winner gets bragging rights.
Manchester United come into this game in 15th place with Arsenal in 12th, with both sides looking to move closer to the Top 4.
Manchester United come in off the back of a 5-0 win at home against last year’s UCL semi-finalists – RB Leipzig, with winger Marcus Rashford in red hot form. Meanwhile, Arsenal come into the game as underdogs having not won at Old Trafford in 14 years. The Arsenal side come in off the back of the 3-0 win over UEL opponent Dundalk, with the Hale End Academy graduates – Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson also enduring a purple patch.
Arsenal have a big injury doubt from the last match-week, with the experienced David Luiz facing a month on side lines. This will affect Arsenal really heavily, due to inability to play out from the back. David Luiz illustrated his illusive pass range last weekend against Leicester, finding long balls to send to the wings. In his place will most likely be Shkodran Mustafi – an extremely mistake-prone player. In the few minutes he had against Leicester, he made a major mistake in not tracking the run on Jamie Vardy. A similar occurrence will definitely happen, with the pace United have to exploit.
Manchester United will run at Mustafi as much as possible knowing he is not comfortable on the ball. The best way to deal with it would be to play a back 5 with Tierney as the LCB, and bring Maitland-Niles – who has the ability to break forward on the break or even pass the ball around.
Playing a back 5 would mean we would play a 2-man midfield. A 2-man midfield would lose us the midfield battle against the United team who will play at least 3 in midfield. They may stick with the midfield that played Leipzig and ran riot with a 4-man midfield.
With Ainsley Maitland Niles played as the LWB, and Tierney restricted to LCB means we would miss out on playing Saka in the midfield. This would seriously affect our creativity going forward as Saka plays better centrally rather than in the front-three. We would also miss out on Kieran Tierney running high up and providing width and length down our left-hand side.
The conclusion of the injury of David Luiz? We have to revert to a back 5. What’s so bad about a back 5? We lack creativity and are too defensive against a side who have major issues in their own back line. The injury of Luiz while impact the course of the game very heavily as may well determine if we go defensive or offensive.
A way to go offensive would be to play William Saliba, who was substituted, unusually in his U23 game 3 days ago. Leading us to think he may be involved in this weekend’s game. With the addition of Saliba, it would ensure us stability at the back, and would allow us to have a 3-man midfield with a lot more creativity, whether Saka or Ceballos start with Xhaka and Partey.
While Manchester United have no injury doubts apart from new signing Alex Telles who tested positive for COVID-19 and suspended Anthony Martial.
A few individual battles to look out for are: Pepe vs Shaw. In the last fixture this happened, Pepe ran rings around Shaw. Making his slip left right and centre as Pepe scored. The same could happen if Pepe is deployed on the right ahead of Willian. Another to look out for is Pogba and Fernandes vs Xhaka and Partey, the attack in United midfield vs the defensive spine of Arsenal. A very interesting battle indeed.
One of the big questions surrounding the predicted line-up is whether the recently un-clinical Alex Lacazette will be benched in favour of starting star man – PE Aubameyang centrally. And weather Arteta will opt for a 5-at-the-back against a big side, or whether he’ll stick with the 4-3-3 formation used against Leicester last week.
After Arsenal beat Dundalk, one man put in a 9/10 performance – Reiss Nelson. He certainly showed his willingness to play regularly, even though it was against poor opposition. Nelson showed his take-on abilities as his dribbling, skill and pressing impressed many. There are genuine calls to see how Nelson does on the left of the front three, instead of Willian who has played 9 Arsenal games with a goal less streak of 9 games. The shouts to give Nelson a chance ahead of out-of-form Willian.
Regarding the Manchester United line-up, calls have come to drop Dan James – the rapid winger who has started the previous 2 games for United contributing close to nothing for United.
The calls from United fans to start Van de Beek in the midfield 4 is something frightening for Arsenal as he is a genuine gamechanger and could alter the course of the match in his own fashion. One to look out for when looking at the line-ups tomorrow!
Predicted Manchester United Line-Up (4-1-2-1-2)
David De Gea
Harry Maguire ©
Donny Van De Beek
Predicted Arsenal Line-Up (4-3-3 interchanging into a 5-2-3)
PE Aubameyang ©
This preview is from new writer Ibrahim Khan. WE are delighted he will be joining the Gunners Town Writing Crew and you can follow him at @IbrahimFTBL