Arsenal v Manchester United: A Close Look at Our Opponent and How to Claim Victory

Time for revenge? (22/01/23) – Game preview

New signings are always exciting, but life moves on, and we are facing another important game on Sunday. So far, the only team that defeated Arsenal in the Premier League is returning the visit, so regardless of their current position it’s a matter of pride to win against Manchester United.

Last season we had Man City and Liverpool taking all 6 points from our 2-2 encounters, plus we had Crystal Palace and Brighton taking 4 points each. So if we defeat the Mancs tomorrow then we have reduced the number of teams taking more points from the 2 meetings than us to a hypothetical 2, which might be further decreased if we don’t lose against Newcastle and stand our ground against the defending champions. This would be something to brag about…

Let’s start the preview with the notable absentees. Besides the long-term injuries of Jesus and Nelson we have to add Elneny to the list, as he had a knock. Normally I wouldn’t be concerned about that, but Elneny’s best games were against Manchester United (and Chelsea), so I’ll miss him from the bench, and will be worried if he will play against Southampton or Nottingham, where he shouldn’t. United has a longer list of players missing the game that used to be the highlight of the league for a decade: Jones, Dalot, Martial, Tuanzabe and van de Beek are injured, Sancho is in a bad place (officially he has ‘personal reasons’, but I don’t know the difference), and Casemiro got his 5th booking in the 80th minute of their last game.

By the way, yellow cards. The rules state that whoever accumulates 5 warnings in the first 19 round will be suspended for a PL match. This is our 19th game, and we have 4 players on 4 yellow cards. Jesus won’t collect his 5th, but Saliba, Saka and Gabriel Magalhães might. I know that the Everton game on the 4th of February is not a season definer to say the least, but it would be nice to avoid suspension nevertheless. The 19th round does not literally reset the card count, but almost: the next milestone is collecting 10 yellows in 32 rounds, which is less likely if the guys start the 20th game with less than 5.

According to TransferMarkt their top-6 players with the highest market values are Fernandes, Antony, Sancho, Rashford, Casemiro and L. Martinez. Anthony, Sancho and Martinez worth so much because of their inflated transfer price, but indeed we do have to take care of Rashford and Fernandes, as they are strong and in-form players that can seriously influence a game. If we can switch them off, we are expected to keep all 3 points at home.

United is famous to protect their lead, so it would help if we could score first. Fortunately, we can rely on the brilliance of captain Odegaard, the dangerous dribbles of our wingers, and we can hurt Manchester in set pieces. Even though both Varane and Maguire are tall defenders, they will most likely mark our attacking outlets, so Saliba and Gabriel – the twin towers of North-London – could carve themselves a few openings after a corner or a free-kick.

They play in the same formation as Arsenal: 4-2-3-1, where Weghorst will play up front supported by Anthony and Rashford on the wings and Bruno from attacking midfield. The dual pivot behind them will be Eriksen with either Fred or McTominay. This will be one of their weaknesses as Eriksen – a former world class AM – has limited defensive contributions, and neither Fred nor Scott are on the level of Partey or Xhaka. I expect them to realize they will not win the possession battle, therefore resort to counterattacks; and that should decide the outcome as our central defenders are superior to theirs, but both William and Gabriel are capable of individual errors (If they could remove that from their game, both of them would be top-5 defenders in the PL). Their other weakness is that we have better players in 1-2-1 comparison for the majority of the positions.

What the boys should further take into consideration is the superior stamina of the opponent. Manchester United scored most of the goals in the final 15 minutes and conceded the least in the last half an hour. They will not get tired as easy as other teams, thus can be still dangerous even when trailing by 2 in the 80th minute.

Our only loss this season in the Premier League came against our current guests, when we lost 3-1 at Old Trafford back in September. Since then Arsenal have drawn two and won the other ten of our league games. In fact I think we shouldn’t have lost that game either; you might remember that Martinelli’s opening goals was chalked off due to a bullsh*t fault Odegaard allegedly committed several seconds earlier. We were chasing the game after Anthony’s debut goal and after equalizing we were punished by 2 swift counterattacks (both scored by Rashford); let’s hope it will not happen this afternoon. The game official is no good news, though: the professional W⚓, Anthony Taylor.

Statistics suggest that neither teams should lose: Arsenal kept 5 clean sheets in the last 7 games (winning 6), while United is undefeated for 6 games suggesting a 0:0 result. Yet, I predict a 2:1 victory, especially as the red devils should only be proud of the scalp of their city rival, while defeating Nottingham, Wolves or Bournemouth is less of an achievement (no offense intended). There is a good chance that by the time the game starts we will be only 2 points ahead of Manchester City, with 2 games in hand to be fair. Let us win this one, and visit City on Friday in an FA Cup fixture full of confidence.

By Peter Barany.

65 thoughts on “Arsenal v Manchester United: A Close Look at Our Opponent and How to Claim Victory

  • I read in many posts, comments and tweets that it was so smart to announce Trossard before Friday noon, so he can play against United tonight. Well, he theoretically can, but I would be no less than shocked if Leandro starts. I don’t even expect him on the bench, but maybe he will be for demonstration purposes, however I don’t think he will be substituted (before stoppage time anyway).

    Our starting line-up should be the boring XI that defeated almost every opponent, and that’s fine. It’s too early to drop any new guy into the deep end of the pool, while Vieira, Smith-Rowe and our backup full backs need some competitive minutes to warm up to the mid-week FA Cup game. The Friday rotation could be affected if some of our key players get their 5th yellow, so they might play against City and sit out the Everton game though.

  • P, you totally got me ready for this game. You rightly point out the risk of the counter attack. MANURE have always been a team to play on turn overs and counter attacks. The football was almost always inferior to Arsenal’s but unfortunately highly effective in the past.

    Ten Hag gets away with this sort of football because the Mancs fans are desperate for CL football and love to win games again. But Arsenal are way, ahead of them.

  • We will need to play our football but remain resilient for ninety minutes indeed. I hope Arteta will close up shop for the last fifteen minutes, if we are leading then. Let then make play and turn the table on them.

  • Eredivisie
    Feyenoord 1 Ajax 1
    The 1-2 coffeeshop conspiracy is defeated, but …
    this blog needs Insider Fair Play Rules too, obviously

  • Lol, LE Gall. Loved your Basil-inspired video in the last thread.

    PB, nothing like a detailed preview to set the tone for the game to come. Trossard is on the bench, for the optics of it but could be brought on later in the game to get him bonding with the squad quick time.

    If we play as well as we know we can, score early, it will be a high-score win. If they pack the bus from the off and prevent the early goal, then a slim victory for us is on the cards. Either way, we would be happy in the end. We are the Bette side and top the table for a reason.

    COYG!!

  • Arsenal
    Ramsdale, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko, Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah.

    Subs: Turner, Tierney, Smith Rowe, Holding, Tomiyasu, Vieira, Lokonga, Marquinhos, Trossard.

    Man Utd
    De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw, Eriksen, McTominay, Antony, Fernandes, Rashford, Weghorst.

    Subs: Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia, Fred, Heaton, Pellistri, Elanga, Garnacho, Mainoo

  • Hoping for a win with ManC close on heels.
    Regarding comments from last post i keep reading the difference between PL2 and PL being too much. But all the loans that i see are to League one on lowers leagues. Why don’t we see loans to a championship club or bottom half of PL? Why is Patino not loaned to a Championship club? I really keep wondering about that.

  • Actually, Madhu, Patino is loaned to a Championship club, Coventry. (he was loaned to Rotherham only a couple of weeks ago, also Championship, but the move to Coventry was a (slight) upgrade. Harry Clarke was also loaned to Championship club Sunderland before his permanent move to League One club Ipswich. (It might seem like a step back, but Ipswich has good chances to be promoted to Championship this summer.)

    However generally you are right. Besides Patino and Clark we have Brooke Norton-Cuffy (whose chances as a future academy graduate RB is about to be usurped by an unnecessary signing of Ivan Fresneda) and first team’s low profile American signing Auston Trusty in the Championship. Many academy starlets – the cream of the bunch – were loaned to lower leagues, and still not regularly playing for their host teams: Biereth, Möller, Flores, Azeez (was recalled and reloaned to the bottom-sitting Championship club earlier this week).
    Theoretically the Tunisian senior international Omar Rekik’s move to Dutch first tier Eredivisie could have been an exciting and useful move, but he played only 18 (!) minutes to the senior team of Sparta Rotterdam, but even his 90 minutes for the U21 some is a shame. Arsenal still not excel when it comes to quality loan placements, but Trusty and Patino are the few notable exceptions.

  • It is all about the response then. It will be a closely fought game, but we should get the win and well.

    1-1, Nketiah.

  • Somehow, my comment hasn’t dropped. Anyway, it is 1-1 with the game looking well balanced.

    We would need to stay calm and play our game. United are fighting back and it’s down to Erik Ten Hag’s influence.

  • Ben White looks like he is going to be concerned about putting in the tackles now, being on a yellow card. It will be a shame if he has to come off on that account because Anthony Taylor would like nothing more than to cut us down to 10 men. Can Tomiyasu get into stride quick enough?

    We have been in measured control, even though Manure have had a share of possession too. However, they haven’t had too many touches of note in our box and been trying shots from distance.

    It will be a cagey 2 nd half but we would just have to go again and remember we are top of the league.

  • I’d say Martinelli hasn’t been his sharpest in general today. He’s actually been poor taking corners for most of the season. That detail needs to be looked at.

    That Rashford goal was as perfect as could have been hit… looked like it was in then curved out and back in.

    Eddie just keeps proving doubters wrong.

  • What a game of football
    Under ten Hag, they’ve made considerable progress, too
    It looks like Ali-Foreman all over again, we’d do well to keep in mind that the shrewder side will win this, not necessarily the stronger – which we are
    Beckenbauer used to say that Gerd Müller was the “greatest guarantee of goals in the history of football” – Müller’s was the very same wood our Eddie has been carved out from, what a lad.
    Oleks’s a true magician, and it’s BigBill’s best game since he came home from Qatar imo – I think he relishes taking on a big boy like Weghorst
    On the other hand, Tom and Marti hace been sloppy, we might say their goal is twice on Tom.
    Might be a good idea to take Ben off and bring Tomi on, Rashford will do all he can to get Ben a 2nd yellow, and Taylor will only be too happy to oblige
    COYG you’re doin’ us oh so proud

  • About Trossard… if we do see him come on today, it will prove to me that Arteta really rates him more than we might have assumed. If he doesn’t come on, just not ready quite yet.

  • I was trying to comment excellent preview to PB. But the site won’t let me post sometimes.
    Anyway, PB.. great preview.

  • We must watch out for the ref’s provocative cautions and decisions. He is forced to brandish a yellow to Antony.

  • We must not be tempted to sit back and soak pressure. We are home and should settle a bit then go for the jugular. The only message this manure team will understand is being kept guessing with how we attack their area next.

  • 2-2! Lisandro Martinez gets his header in, after a goal keeping error by Ramsdale who didn’t have to go for that cross without a shout at Tomi. Once he didn’t keep hold, it was anyone’s ball to win.

    It is going to be tense and nervy in the stadium now.

  • Saka nearly does it again on De Gea, but for a fortunate deflection. Fred comes on for them; man has a way of being a nuisance and capable of the odd goal. Needs watching.

    Very cagey game now.

  • That is a massive result for Arsenal there. Any doubters now? Okay. They will wait for our games against City to finally concede we are heading for the title.

  • Phenomenal football. 50 POINTS!! Wise, controlled, accurate, fierce, resilient, passionate, beautiful. Clever to bring on Tomi for Ben. Eddie “Muller” indeed, the biggest smile in football.

  • Granit is never below a 6 but today was a return to his top level but still almost in a quiet way love to seem him combine with Zinch on the left

  • Indeed, Tomiyasu was really good. Outshone White both defensively and offensively.
    But what surprised me was the result of key passes: 17:3 to the Arsenal.
    Nice game, boys, and especially proud for Eddie, who stepped up big time.

  • Great game and you have to love Eddie. The boy has now legitimately a rival for Jesus. Ediie is not backup . It’s an hour after match and 1 AM can’t sleep still buzzing. What a win.

  • Special mention, Zinchenko. Massive addition to our squad. Tierney can’t even complain about game time. He should just learn as he will have many games to play for us too.

  • Madhu,

    Jesus should be reintroduced slowly and even when he’s back he should play out wide at times to get Eddie starts and subs at CF. Martinelli and Saka can get some much needed rest this way.

    At this point it’s not even a matter of opinion. It’s just the right thing.

    As I said at halftime..the fact Arteta used Trossard shows he’s really happy to have him. The choice of him over Emile today was just about match fitness for an intense game. He looked like he’s played with us for years. Immediate impact.

  • Agree Makayah, I thought that Zinchenko was amazing, with United pressing so intently on Partey and Odegaard he seemed to step into the breach, top top class.

  • Agree also Makayah on Eddie, nobody can say that he doesn’t deliver in the big games now, his head could have dropped after missing that great chance near the end but he was really ‘In the room’ for the winner.

  • Yes Stuart, not sure about Benjamin he seemed a bit below par, could have picked up a knock in training, who knows, but it made perfect sense to bring on Tomiyasu and he didn’t let us down.

  • Fun fact: international games aside Arsenal’s top scorer (in all competition) this season: … wait for it …
    Eddie Nketiah

    He has 9 goals, Odegaard and Saka have 8 each, Martinelli 7, Jesus 5. And Eddie played 2/3 of the minutes Saka, Odegaard and Martinelli had.
    It’s a sad day for Vlahovic and Osimhen. 🙂

  • Johnno, what a nice problem to have not to rush back Jesus, it’s th3 same with ESR, both have had big injuries and care needs to be taken in reintegrating them, they’ll both be fine and they’ll both have major roles to play this season, starting perhaps next Friday for ESR…?

  • Amen to that, Kev.
    ESR, Vieira and Trossard could start. Possibly behind Nketiah, who should reap all the minutes before – probably rightfully – going back to play Jesus’ back-up.

  • A fine bit of writing, Total. The Telegraph’s Henry Winter was the best during my time in London, but this fella at The Guardian runs him close.
    There was a moment in the game, late on when it was 2-2, Zinchenko chased a ball back with a very easy pass on back to Gab or Aaron. Instead he turned his body inside out to produce a reverse pass up the line which immediately put us on the front foot again.
    That relentless press in the last minutes of the game was astonishing, and (as the Guardian bloke wrote) reminiscent of Liverpool in their gegenpressing pomp.
    And Trossard’s cameo was every bit as impressive as Mudryk’s was for Chelsea.

  • That’s right Kev, we’re doing things right.

    Stuart…. such a great example and observation of that Zinchenko play. Very special player.

  • Amen LG. Let’s live in the moment. The Pillar of Fire has paused over our beloved club.

  • Hey guys,

    Watched the match last night and felt that we need to be a little higher when we lose possession. We were sitting a little too deep and that invited Manu to come at us easier.

    We were good in attack and Zinchenko did a great job, as well as the front 3 nevertheless.

    Cheers on a good 3 points.

    JK

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