After United’s game against Fulham, many pundits were critical of the fact that Moyes’ men had so many crosses but could not utilize. Many stats men even lost count. While some counted 81, others claimed 82. Many people emphasized that for a team to have that number of crosses and not score from any one was pathetic. In truth, it was quite shocking for United. It was not just the crossing that was the problem but the accuracy of the crossing, out of the 81, only 16 were accurate, that means it was an accuracy of 1 in 5 crosses.
Rafael had 10; Evra had 14; Mata, 11; Rooney, 12; Young, 15; Januzaj 12. From this statistics, their wide men and full backs are fully involved in putting the ball into the box, also Wayne Rooney who plays as the ‘No 10’ is also part of the crossing Orchestra. If Arsenal is to prevent crosses from coming into the box at regular intervals. These men must be watched.
We have all criticized Manchester United for not converting their crosses, but what we have failed to do is to commend the Fulham defenders for a job well done. Dan Burn had 22 clearances; Riise, 11; Heitinga, 9; Sascha Reither, 9; Richardson, 9; Sidwell, 9. From this information, it shows that the entire back four plus the defensive midfielder was involved, also the left sided midfielder, Kieran Richardson also made an impact. That means that Mertesacker, Koscienly, Sagna, Gibbs, Arteta and co must be very watchful.
Arsenal has a poor record in terms of crosses or set pieces into the box, in the Liverpool game, we conceded two goals in 10 minutes from set pieces, in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, the game was decided by a corner kick. The big question is, IF UNITED DECIDE TO PUT 82 CROSSES IN TO BOX LIKE THEY DID AGAINST FULHAM, WOULD ARSENAL COME OUT UNSCRATCHED?
Zonal marking has been the tactics Wenger has employed this season, sometimes, it has worked, at other times, it has been our undoing. Also, sometimes, we see full backs stray away too high up the field that they are caught off position. If we are to deal with the United’s game plan, everybody has to be focused.
OVERCOMING THE UNITED PHOBIA
In the reverse loss to United, Wenger mentioned something about the team been too cautious and over the last few seasons, United has surely dominated this fixture. In the last 10 games, we have lost 7, drawn 2 and won just 1. The 8-2 scar is still in our hearts and since that day, we always approach this fixture with a lot of caution, maybe in the thought of not letting it happen again. This time, we must throw caution to the wind, we need these three points and we must do everything to get it.
MERTESACKER/KOSCIELNY VERSUS ROONEY/VAN PERSIE
Per and Laurent had a very bad in the office against Liverpool. The fourth goal where Sturridge won the ball between the two of them reminded me of some seasons back when Agbonlahor did the same thing to Gallas and Silvestre. They must not dwell too much on that bad performance as they would have another set of big strikers to deal with: Rooney and Van Persie. Between them, they have 19 league goals and would always be a potent force. Wayne Rooney must also be carefully watched, the talismanic English man has 9 assist in the league alone and when the chips are down, he has been the light that United look to. He must be watched alongside RVP.
JANUJAZ/MATA/VALENCIA VERSUS GIBBS/SAGNA
After Monreal’s not too impressive showing against Liverpool, I expect Wenger to start Gibbs. Kieran and Sagna must be weary of this united strength in width. Whoever, Moyes start would give these Arsenal stalwarts some trouble and they have to be very careful and limit the crosses that come from them and also make sure that they do not sneak into the back post to score. It would be a serious battle.
HOW WOULD UNITED PLAY?
Moyes might not be getting the same results as legendary Alex Ferguson, but United tactics has not changed (even though I feel the pace has slowed down). Expect Moyes game to involve bringing the ball from the flanks. This season, 76 % of the attack has come from the wings and just 24 % from the middle. I don’t expect it to change tonight, so Arsenal has to be careful and make sure that we deal with their wide men.
Before Chelsea drew with West Brom, this game was just important to restore some respect and pride after the demolition by Liverpool; but after Mourinho’s ‘little horses’ drew with West Brom, this game has entered another dimension, it has become a must win and not even a point would be acceptable. #BELIEVE #COYG
(stats presented in this write up were courtesy whoscored.com)
Arsenal have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 11 matches in all competitions at the Emirates Stadium and conceded just one in the other match.
Robin van Persie has scored in each of the last five meetings between these two teams, the first two times for Arsenal and the last three for Man Utd.
The Gunners have won six of their last eight Barclays Premier League games at home by a 2-0 scoreline.
Arsene Wenger’s side have won 15 and lost just one of their last 21 Premier League home matches (D5) and in that run only two teams have managed to score more than one goals at the Emirates.
Man Utd have only failed to score in one of their last 24 Premier League away games, but they have only kept two clean sheets in their last 15 on the road in the competition.
Arsenal have won just one of the last 10 Premier League games against United (W1 D2 L7).
Juan Mata has scored in each of his four starts against Arsenal in all competitions.
David Moyes has never won a Premier League game away from home as a manager against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Man Utd (P48 W0 D18 L30).
Wayne Rooney has scored 10 Premier League goals against Arsenal (including his first and his 100th), his joint-highest tally against any opponent and also the joint-most by any player against Arsenal in the competition (along with Robbie Fowler).
This is the first time that Arsenal and Manchester United will meet in a Premier League match after both failing to win their preceding fixture since April 2008.
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