Man U [4-3-3]: De Gea – Valencia Smalling Lindelof Young – Herrera Pogba Matic – Lingard Lukaku Sanchez
SUBS: Martial (64) Rashford (50) Fellaini (64)
Arsenal [4-2-3-1]: Ospina – Bellerin Chambers Mavropanos Kolasinac – Xhaka Maitland-Niles – Mkhitaryan Iwobi Nelson – Aubameyang
SUBS: Monreal (64) Welbeck (64) Willock (76)
One tactic that really helped this Arsenal side is defending narrowly. Arsenal let Manchester United play on the outside. This meant they could keep a very compact shape. Thus helping Arsenal to stay organised. If the ball did reach the flank, a winger would close it down. Leaving the fullback tucked in and tight to the adjacent centre-half. The shape made it much harder to break down. Additionally, although he scored, it made the likes of Pogba struggle to have an impact. This type of defending meant a lot of crosses/corners were coming in. However, Arsenal were uncharacteristically good at defending in the air. A lot of that is down to Mavropanos.
Two Young Central Defenders
Everyone feared the worst when they saw the lineup. It was one anticipated but didn’t hit home until it was announced. We would be going to the home of the biggest club in the country with a weakened team. Also, against one of the most prolific attackers in the league in Lukaku. Not to mention the ‘friend turned foe’ Alexis Sanchez. However, Arsenal’s defence was more than up to the task. Mavropanos won the majority of his share in the air. Not to mention the tenacity and aggression shown by him in the battles he had with Lukaku. He looked a much better defender than Mustafi. His positional sense helped Arsenal control the game. He reads the game brilliantly and was dominant against a striker who usually dominates defenders in Lukaku.
2 vs 3 in the middle
Another interesting battle was to see how Xhaka and Maitland-Niles coped being outnumbered. Man Utd played three central midfielders with Arsenal fielding just two. With Iwobi just in front, Arsenal’s midfield excelled and held the ball well. They contained Pogba extremely well and was quick to close down Matic. This meant Man Utd couldn’t really get a rhythm going in their passing. This meant most things were a bit forced and not properly thought out. Also, Niles ran the midfield well. Taking on each of the United midfielders and not once looking out of place. He had a solid game, whilst doing nothing extraordinary he did the simple things right.
Niles: 9/10 [MOTM]