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The Untold tactical preview: UNITED – AND HOW THEY WILL PROBABLY PLAY

By Bob MacDonald

Van Gaal has followed on from Fergie and Moyes in playing quite a strict 4-4-2 formation, though he has changed slightly to a diamond midfield, not that you can actually notice.

The basis in their system is that the wide MF actually play as wingers (here come the Dinasoars) attacking and defending in straight lines. Defensively they do not tuck in, which leaves the CMF quite exposed, especially when using a diamond as the CMF play one in front of the other.

The FB’s use the flanks to attack, but they either support or at times overlap, Alf Ramsey did this in 1966!!!!

The 2 front play basically central, but often one behind the other.

Di Maria has recently being used as a crosser of the ball from wide areas, as was Beckham, no wonder Di Maria is apparently cheesed off, as he surely has much more to offer for £60 million quid.

On the other flank it is either Valencia or the young Belgian, again much of the same. And quite predictable.

United have two ways of playing this game, they will either be scared to death and defend deep (like Burnley and the lower teams) or be so arrogant that they attack with vigour.

Should they take the first option then it will be difficult for Arsenal, and the result could easily be a draw or a win for utd.
If they attack; then, sorry it is curtains for United.
I wonder how good/stupid Van Gaal actually is.


If Utd go for all out attack then, Arsenal’s pace on the break will be vital, and hopefully productive.

Should they defend deep then patience from both players and crowd is imperative. Arsenal have enough creative players to be far too good for them, but do not expect goals to flow in the first half, a 0-0 at half time would not be the end of the world, especially as Arsenal always step it up in the second half when the opposition are tired of chasing the ball.

If Di Maria plays, then he will be up against Chambers (who did so poorly against Swansea). It will be important that The Ox helps, like he did for England, otherwise all could be lost.

Irrespective, Chambers has to get his defensive distances right, easy to do on the training pitch, but much more difficult in a high pressure game. This is where experience really counts………..please do not expect a 19 yr old to have experience; not possible.

Discipline, focus and intelligent decision making are very important, if Utd sit deep they will undoubtedly look for the long ball over the top. Arsenal must surely know this is coming and be organised to deal with it, RVP is not as quick as he was, so it really should not be beyond the capabilities of an intelligent team.

Mistakes can happen, and probably will. The only way to eradicate them is with individual concentration and determined team play.

Who plays for either team>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>who knows?

I am more than confident that on this occasion Arsenal WILL deliver.


When I wrote my article the hindsight managers and Bob MacDonald wrote his tactical article I thought it might be a great idea to challenge the hindsight managers to do what Bob now did without me knowing it.

So maybe the ones who claim the knowledge when the result is known would take this opportunity to give their own team sheets, tell us which tactics will be deployed on the day and how it will pan out. But give details just like Bob did.

26 comments to The Untold tactical preview: UNITED – AND HOW THEY WILL PROBABLY PLAY

  • jweeraga

    For me, any Arsenal win will bring much needed relief.I know we will score, I hope Arsene has sorted the defence.I would also like, for once in a big game, that The arsenal score first. Let the other team chace, like we always do.

  • Nicky

    Over the years, with the steady departure of thugs like the Neville brothers, Keane and Scholes, to name but a few,
    I feel that United are now unable to take advantage of blatant referee bias.
    There is Rooney of course, with his accompanying red mist, as well as Van Persie but both have now seen better days.
    The arrogant bully, Ferguson, was wise enough to know when to desert a sinking ship, evidenced by the club’s failure to qualify for even the Europa Cup this season.
    I feel it will be sometime, perhaps years, before United will challenge oil-saturated Citeh, to be top dog in Manchester.

  • SA Gunner

    We should expect a tight defense with the counter attack from United. With Moyes they resorted to the exact same format and we couldnt get a maximum result against them.

    Re the counter attack, we have the ability as shown against Aston Villa but we are far more likely to play the ball out from the back, with slow build up play and ball to feet, as opposed to playing into spaces.

    Im not too confident of a maximum result here, unless we adjust away from our current style of play.

    Either a draw or United sneaking a win here.

  • I’m hoping we sneak a win and stay tight at the back.
    It’s a tall ask, but we can do it.
    Come on the Arsenal #pkb

  • apo Armani

    Whilst I agree with almost all of what Bob MacDonald has in this article, I feel that their “12th man” will certainly have a distinct say in developments during the stretch of the game.

    It will be a tense game (as they normally are)…the 12th man will take this on board. I expect lots of Bias, and perhaps game changing decisions going against us at pivotal stages in the game.

    Aside of the 12th man…We have more than enough about us to make a statement this time, providing (as mentioned already above), we keep a tight,organized defensive unit as a TEAM. Failure to do this may cost us irrespective of their 12th man!

  • Mutiu Jimoh

    See , the problem here wil be Arsene bcos of the wrong tactics and line-up he will put out.In defence,I will go for Chambers and Per despite him (Per )not in inform and has been killing us becos he is suppose to be the leader of the defence when Kosc is not around, Bellerin with his pace and Gibbs.Midfield…. Arteta ,Wilshere inshort let me live it for Arsene to decide.I dont have confidence in Arsene this days bcos I dont know what is wrong with him ,he is too predictable. If we win I be happy but not sure untill after the game.

  • Ashwin Gunner

    We need three points on Saturday


  • Ozy

    I think this squad is very capable of beating an injury-ravaged Man U. Gotta cheer on the boys! #PKB

  • My favourite forgotten Arsenal players:

  • Ozy

    Wenger is the only man who can move this club forward. If not him, who can possibly replace him? Pulis, MacKay, Di Canio, Hughes, Redknapp, Steve Bruce? I don’t think so. #PKB

  • Mike

    One of my arguments for many years (particularly against Man U) has not always been about pivotal decisions by referees although they have definitely played a part. Referees cost us games in other, less noticable ways and this has happend in recnet years against this lot. To explain, if we go in for 50/50 balls and end up conceding free kicks in 80% of cases, our players understandably go for less 50/50’s. When the opposition get a feel for this they then start going in harder knowing they will be panalised less often the 20/80’s then become their 50/50’s. This escalates the level of the challenge whereby our players don’t go for balls where they are favourites as they know they are likely to either concede a free-kick or get injured whilst the offender goes unpunished.

    Look back through many games aginst Man U and this pattern is all too familiar and not just when they play us. This is a major reason for Man U’s success over the last decade or two. Beating them is not about being the better team. To beat them you actually have to be far better than them to compensate for this imbalance in playing style to which we have to adjust.

    Lest we forget:

    Just note the disgust on Gary Neville’s face at getting a yellow card when he commits his fourth bookable offence.

  • Lemmins

    So refreshing to read a pro wenger blog for a change, they seem to be getting rarer these day’s due to media whores such as LePuke.
    I cannot see us losing to manu this weekend, they are weaker than in recent times and without Ferguson leading them they look lost.

    I would actually drop Per and move Chambo alongside Monreal with Bellerin and Gibbo as FB’s, midfield would be Jacko and Rambo central sitting deep, Ox and Theo playing wide and Alexis playing behind Welbz.
    That gives us the pace to get in behind their defence and also gives good recovery pace when we lose the ball.

    With Wenger in charge we will see him destroy LVG tactically and finally put to bed this myth about Wenger having no tactical nous.


  • Spot on once again guys! A breath of fresh air in these doomer days! #PKB

  • apo Armani

    November 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Very accurate assessment!!!

  • para

    We all wonder what went wrong in the last two games, especially when everything was going well, some blame AW, some blame the players and some blame the green grass outside, but we have to rally now.

    A thundering noise should welcome the team on Saturday, to lift them from the very start, and to project the WILL to win all around the stadium. Stick with the players even if any player goes wrong(complain later)until the end of game.

    I actually expect to win if we are going to mark any place in the top 3 as our own, as it is also about time that we have an easier start to the CL as in previous seasons.


  • apo Armani

    November 20, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    In the least very Inspiring Words!!!!

    Lets do it FFS!!


  • Usama


    My Word !! That man, Mike Riley, single handedly allowed Man U to do everything that is illegal in the book. killed off Arsenal. I started watching Arsenal play in 2007 and I just can not imagine what the fans,players and Wenger would have felt like on that day.

  • spartan

    Jim, Holmes and Ozy with same profile pic and hash tag? I think ure trolls just taking the piss.

    Anyways Gunners will win at the weekend with a Welbs double and Sanchez lob.

  • Quincy

    How will Manure play? Attack? Sit deep? One thing is certain, they will kick us to pieces and get away with it.

    Not to be insulting or anything, but I thought it was fairly obvious they were playing a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, clearly Blind was sitting deep with a no.10 like Mata in front of him, and wingers on either side.

    The usual line to trot out at this point is that we have the extra man in midfield, where we have to dominate blah blah blah blah…

  • Red and White Army

    Its going to be a tight match.But I think we are going to nick it 2-1.COYG

  • Notoverthehill

    A good preview of what may happen. Full marks for confidence.

    With the new 10-year deal with Adidas, Manu have to be in the Champions League, by hook or by crook.

    Manu, will lose £22.5 millions per year from the Adidas deal alone, with no European participation in 2 years time. Deducting other sponsorship, match day and ancillary revenue, the hit will be over £50 millions per annum.

    The Glazers will not allow this!

  • omgarsenal

    United will most likely depend on the officials’ ¨generosity¨ to allow them to defend extremely aggressively (also know as ¨getting it up them¨) and will rely on chopping down players like Giroud,Walcott,the Ox and certainly Sanchez/Welbeck and company with relative impunity. I am not sure that Dean will feel comfortable in awarding everything to United but we can be sure the crucial free kick decisions and in the box calls will go mostly to United, either defensively or offensively.
    If I were Van Gaal, I would leave one attacker up front (Van Persie?) and flood the midfield with his most aggressive players (5 or 6) whose sole assignment would be to harass, chop, crunch ankles and generally make life very miserable for our attacking midfielders. Once they got possession, I would have the ball hit hard over the top towards goal and hope that RVP would get lucky. IF United can get a goal first, then they’ll be able to continue their long ball and move another attacker up alongside or behind RVP.
    However IF the Arsenal score then United will need to rely on the break to equalize OR on Dean’s generosity to award a great free kick or better still a penalty. They will be forced to defend in depth because a 2nd AFC goal will make it very difficult to attack and for Dean to gift them goal(s).

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thanks Bob, hope we have enough for them. The Utd player I worry about most tho is mike dean

  • Andy Mack

    I expect them to sit back and let mike dean get a the winner for them.

  • Ashwin Gunner

    I hope we get atleast a two goal lead and fight to keep it that way till the end. dont want to see Chambers in RB. He is best suited at CB. Bellerin should play


  • Jammy J

    I cant believe how many people are using this #PKB bullshit and not only that, but his picture as well?! Jesus christ think for yourselves.. I hadnt even heard of this Pete character and then i read that article he wrote about Spurs giving Arsenal a lesson in transfers; told me everything i need to know. I would be embarrassed to associate myself with someone so heavily that comes out with such rubbish.