UK time is: 18:17:22
Vital Login
Social Login

Choose your club

Other Sites

Network Navigation

Vital Partners

'If It's Football, It's Vital'

United's Three-Man Midfield Should Dominate Again

Ryan Giggs believes that if United play to the level they reached in the first leg, with the same tempo and intensity then they'll be fine at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow. Knowing Fergie, however, such an approach is unlikely...

Giggs and Scholes both played 90 minutes at the Riverside while Anderson, Carrick and Fletcher weren't involved at all. This certainly means that the three-man midfield that worked so seamlessly against Arsenal in the first leg will be used again, to provide steel and energy as well as confidence in possession.

With Van Persie fit, Arsenal are expected to go with a 4-4-2: the Dutchman and Adebayor (who should have picked up a yellow card at Old Trafford for a deliberate handball which would have ruled him out of tomorrow's game) up front, Walcott and Nasri on the flanks and Song partnering Fabregas in the centre.

Many feel that this is the best chance for the Gooners to create the chances they need for victory and while that might be true, it is also an excellent opportunity for United to get a stranglehold on midfield: Fletcher and co. comfortably bossed Fabregas, Nasri and Song in the first leg and they should be able to stamp their authority on the game again, depriving the wide men and the strikers from the support they crave.

We could also point to the FA Cup game of last season: many still say that Wenger put out a weakened team and that's why they were humiliated but if you actually look at the line-ups, you'll see that the Gallas and Toure both played and they field a midfield of Eboue, Gilberto, Fabregas, Hleb - which means it was very far from a reserve team. Yet they were all anonymous: the central defenders were destroyed by an unstoppable Wayne Rooney while the midfield was totally overrun by guess who? Anderson, Carrick and Fletcher.

Last week's game was actually very similar to that FA Cup game, with the strong start and the early goal but last season we quickly added a second and Arsenal collapsed after that. Had we scored a second in the first half on last Wednesday, I believe a similar drubbing could easily have been on the cards.

However, both games were played at Old Trafford, that's true. At the Emirates it will be probably different. But if we want a fine example of how to negotiate this game on their ground, we need to look no further than the league clash in London last season.

United played that game with two energetic tacklers, Anderson and Hargreaves, with a pass-master, Ryan Giggs deployed slightly ahead of them. At that time Arsenal were rampant in the league and they played well in that game, too, but we mostly restrained them to long-range shots - they didn't try to walk the ball into the net that time! And we almost won the game with terrifying counter-attacking football, with their equaliser coming in injury time.

I did not deny, nor do it now, that it was a deserved point for Arsenal. However, my point is that we'll line up similarly in midfield and with Rooney in great form and Ronaldo starting to show his best again we can be similarly threatening in attack. And it's needless to say, really, that a 2-2 draw with a last-minute Arsenal equaliser would be an absolutely fine scenario for us!

However, it depends on Fergie as well. As I said, it looks certain that he'll deploy the middle three which dominated Arsenal at Old Trafford - but it's not yet sure that he'll dare to encourage attacking as well. A shut up shop display like in the second half at Porto is not out of question: Rooney and Tevez lurking on the wings, covering for the full-backs, the midfielders occupying every bit of space in fron of the back four that could be exploited and Ronaldo roaming up front on his own.

Many pundits still spout the old cliché that United only know one way to play: attacking. Most of us sees that this is rubbish: it used to be true but these days Fergie is not afraid of a little catenaccio away from home, especially in a two-legged knockout tie. The, ahem, unambitious tactics described worked for Chelsea and, last season, United at the Nou Camp, so with all the talk about our potentially lethal away goal, I wouldn't put it past Fergie to think it could just as well work against Arsenal. In that case, a nailbiting 0-0 is the most likely.




Use your social login to comment on front page articles. Login using you Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn accounts and have your say!



For the very latest Premier League odds

For massive weekly jackpots - Play the Football Pools Online

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday May 4 2009

Time: 4:20PM

Your Comments

Simple thing to do is to play the exact same team that started the first leg! Anderson was immense and so was Fletcher!
ForeverUnited
Simple thing to do is to play the exact same team that started the first leg! Anderson was immense and so was Fletcher!
ForeverUnited
 

Have Your Say

Log in...
with your social network     OR     with your Vital account

Recent Manchester United Articles

Blind & Di Maria Loving It! (Thursday October 30 2014)

Legend Claims City Now The Bigger Side (Wednesday October 29 2014)

Fellaini Still Leaving? (Wednesday October 29 2014)

Those Bale Rumours (Wednesday October 29 2014)

Vidal Deal Dead (Wednesday October 29 2014)

Emotions Took Over (Wednesday October 29 2014)

Rooney Doubt? (Tuesday October 28 2014)

Nearly's Only Half Way! (Tuesday October 28 2014)

Johnstone Returns To Donny (Tuesday October 28 2014)

Not Over Yet! (Monday October 27 2014)

Archived Manchester United Articles

List All Vital United Articles
Have your say
Click here to suggest an article
Click here to suggest a poll

Vital Members League (view all)

League Results (view all)

Latest Results
Man Utd 1 - 1 Chelsea
WBA 2 - 2 Man Utd
Man Utd 2 - 1 Everton
Man Utd 2 - 1 West Ham
Leicester City 5 - 3 Man Utd
Man Utd 4 - 0 Q.P.R.

League Table (view table)

Team P W D L GD Pts
5. Arsenal 9 3 5 1 4 14
6. Swansea 9 4 2 3 3 14
7. Liverpool 9 4 2 3 1 14
8. Man Utd 9 3 4 2 3 13
9. Everton 9 3 3 3 2 12
10. Hull City 9 2 5 2 0 11
11. Spurs 9 3 2 4 -2 11

Breaking League News

Irvine Expecting Tough Leicester Encounter
» WBA : 30/10/2014 17:12:00
Varela Resumes Full Training
» WBA : 30/10/2014 17:07:00
Koeman Delighted With Second Stoke Win
» Southampton : 30/10/2014 16:55:00
Sheffield United In The Quarter Finals
» Southampton : 30/10/2014 16:48:00
Players Respond To Newcastle Loss
» Man City : 30/10/2014 16:38:00

Current Site Poll (view all polls)

City v United?
Suggested By:  
Home win! 0%
Away win! 50%
Draw! 50%