Coming in as some sort of “must win” match for both teams, let’s take a look at some of the key battles on the pitch, match-ups and what Manchester United will have to do to win.
History Favors Manchester United
This fixture has heavily favored Manchester United in the last few years. In the last 12 competitive games between these two teams dating back to the 2008-09 season, Manchester United has won an impressive 9 of these 12 games, losing one and two games ending in a draw.
Manchester United seems to always match up well against the Gunners, some will attribute this to their contrasting styles of play, in which the Red Devils’ sturdy and tough defense nullifies the fluid passing/possession game of the Gunners. This allows Manchester United to take advantage of their deceptively quick counter attack, which usually allows their wingers to exploit the Gunners’ wing-backs, which are usually caught further up the field because of their style of play.
Coming off an embarrassing thrashing from Liverpool on Saturday Morning, the Gunners will have to completely lift their game from that lethargic play, which I am sure they will. United, on the other hand, are also coming off a very disappointing draw on Sunday, in which they became extremely careless and disinterested in the last five minutes of the game, allowing a very careless goal in the final minutes of stoppage time. I believe the first fifteen minutes of this contest will be vital for both clubs, someone has to stamp the game from early, stating their desire and hunger for these three points.
How the Players Match Up
First, let’s take a look at Olivier Giroud and Nemanja Vidic. Vidic completely took Giroud out of his game last time at Old Trafford, before he was substituted right on the stroke of halftime from an unfortunate collision with his own Keeper. Phil Jones, who was totally disrupting the Gunners’ Midfield, was called to duty at Center Back, this opened up the game more for the Gunners as United missed that energy in the midfield and missed Vidic’s rough house tackling in the back. Vidic and Jones (if deemed fit) are a must tomorrow for United to take this game.
Another key match up will be Van Persie and Rooney against the phenomenally successful duo of Mertesacker and Koscielny. Mertesacker was ruled out at the last minute with flu like symptoms at Old Trafford, which left Thomas Vermaelen to deputize in his absence. In all fairness, Vermaelen did a decent job called into battle at the last minute, but the set piece corner scored by RVP will always leave the Gunners asking “what if Big Mert was fit”?
What Manchester United Must Do To Win
Manchester United has got to come fully prepared, if they want to get these season saving must-have three points against Arsenal.
David Moyes cannot experiment with the starting lineup, it needs to be as close to this as possible: De Gea, Rafael, Vidic (c), Evra, Jones(if fit), Fletcher, Carrick, Januzaj, Mata, Rooney and Van Persie. This team will allow a strong, but busy midfield, explosive and creative wide players who can also penetrate through the middle and make a final pass.
We all know how dynamic and explosive Van Persie and Rooney can be, but after Sunday’s almost “ugly” performance, the Coaching staff have got to realize that 81 crosses in a game with a limited success of finding a teammate is almost ancient Football. All United players must be prepared physically and mentally for a battle, which will inevitably decide the last straw effort of their season, of making top four.