Venue: Emirates Stadium Date: Saturday 8 November Kick-off: 12:45 GMTArsenal Likely Line Up (4-5-1)
Sagna – Gallas(c)– Silvestre – Clichy
Walcott – Fabregas – Diaby – Denilson – Nasri
Subs from: Fabianski, Toure, Djourou, Song, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere,
Manchester United Likely Line Up (4-4-2)
Van Der Sar
G. Neville(c) – Ferdinand- Vidic – Evra
Ronaldo – Carrick – Anderson – Park
Rooney – Berbatov
Subs from: Kuszczak, Rafael, Evans, O’ Shea, Tevez, Giggs, Nani
Form Guide: Arsenal (4th) W6 D2 L3= 20 points Man United (3rd): W6 D3 L1= 21 points
Tactics Talk- Where Arsenal can win (and lose) the game
Almunia is back for Arsenal as could Sagna and Silvestre, while Gallas and Walcott are rated 50:50. This limits Wengers options should they not be available (and are assumed unavailable till told otherwise) and with Van Persie missing Arsenal are expected to play 4-5-1 with Vela moving to the left. This will allow Diaby to play up with Bendtner such as in Fenerbahce, contesting for the long balls when there is a goal kick and dropping back to defend.
The weak links in United’s team could be identified as the full backs therefore if Walcott misses out it would be a huge blow. Rafael may also play if Neville is out so there is a bigger opportunity there however the wingers will also need to track back. Ronaldo is a huge threat also but Clichy has had him in his pocket recently so it is likely to mean the winger will switch sides continuously.
Arsenal tore apart Man United in last years match at Old Trafford winning Ferguson as an admirer so if Arsenal can pass in triangles there could be a chance to dominate without Scholes’ passing ability. It is really important Arsenal gel in what is a makeshift line up so passes must stick as Arsenal have great movement with the ball. Denilson will have a job on his hands too as Rooney and Berbatov in particular will drop to the edge of the centre circle regularly to link up play and Fabregas will have to make sure that Arsenal are not to exposed. Pressuring will be very much required but do Arsenal have the personnel with the discipline to do just that?
Set pieces and counter attacks will be key. United can counter attack to devastating effect and will look to do that very quickly. Ronaldo and Rooney are the main dangers on the counter attack, and last year the Red Devils scored two on the counter attack at the Emirates. They also scored a free-kick and a penalty in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford and have a clear advantage in the air.
Key Man: Cesc Fabregas United Danger Man: Dimitar Berbatov
The Berbatov Factor
The Bulgarian Dimitar Bebatov is crucial to United’s success tomorrow as he has now become the focal point of the United play. Linking up those around him, his team-mates look to play around him and advance further to stretch the play. He is hard to mark as he starts high up the field and then drops deeper so it is not just the case of the defender deciding whether to get tight or leave him to the midfielder who is likely to be Denilson. He likes to move across the channel between midfield and attack which can disrupt the marking. Rooney as a result can move higher up the field without also having to be the main link, coinciding with his recent burst of goals. His impact has also evident on the wingers who move towards him opening space for the full backs to attack.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United- My heart says an Arsenal win but my head says a draw is more likely. Manchester United are the fresher of the two and are in form. Arsenal have been patchy and with a unfamiliar line up must click while United can count on their big guns, Rooney and Berbatov where rested too in midweek. The midfield will be key but whoever makes the most of a transition of play or set piece will win. If United score first the danger is they can pick off the Gunners at will.