Manchester United vs Arsenal is a rivalry that is always expected to throw up fireworks. From the Ferguson vs Wenger rivalry to Keane vs Vieira, the two teams had influential managers and captains and made the matches between these teams titanic. Yesterday’s match was even more emotional for the Arsenal section as it was the last match for Arsene Wenger against Manchester United and Jose Mourinho, atleast in the Premier League.
Arsenal FC quoted the words of Arsene Wenger on their twitter account after the game ended. Arsene Wenger said (@Arsenal- April 29, 2018):
“It was just another game for me but I’m very grateful for the gesture from @ManUtd before the game. It was very classy of them.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 29, 2018
The game was preceded by a classy gesture from Manchester United, with Sir Alex Ferguson gifting a memento to Wenger to commemorate their rivalry and his 22-year stay at Arsenal. At that moment, all enmity was put aside as even Mourinho joined in at the behest of Ferguson.
But this was a United-Arsenal game and drama could not be too far behind. The match was far from straightforward for either of the teams and was won only in the 91st minute by Manchester United with a winner from Fellaini.
Premier League posted on their official twitter account after the match concluded (@premierleague- April 30, 2018):
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 30, 2018
Here at Arsedevils, we look at three crucial talking points from the game and analyse why the Red Devils came out on top:
#1 Arsenal Focusing On The Europa League
Arsenal’s only chance of winning any silverware this season is the Europa League. They played out a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid in the semi-final and would be looking to overcome them in the second leg. Arsene Wenger was aware of this and he named as many as 6 reserve players in the starting line-up. Arsenal were missing big names like Ozil, Ramsey and Mustafi.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 29, 2018
But United had no such commitments and Mourinho named his best starting XI to take on the Gunners. The inexperience was evident in Arsenal’s play as they could not move the ball around freely and the traditional free-flowing Arsenal style of football was sparse and few and far between.
It was an understandable decision from the Arsenal gaffer and to their credit, the team did hold on for most of the match, being undone by only a late winner by Fellaini. United did not push hard enough after they had taken the lead and would’ve faced a lot of embarrassment if they had failed to win the game.
#2 The 4-3-3 Formation Jackpot
Jose Mourinho has experimented all season with so many different formations that it was getting difficult to gauge what sort of positions the players were stationed at. A 4-2-3-1 at times was followed by a 4-4-2 the next game and he could not seem to settle on one single formation.
But undoubtedly, the 4-3-3 is the formation which is best suited to United. That allows Pogba to roam around freely in the final third while Matic covers him and allows Ander Herrera too to do the box-to-box role he excels at. It provides enough width for the likes of wingers in Alexis and Lingard/Martial and also enables Lukaku upfront to hold up play when needed and get forward during possession.
Yesterday’s match was another reminder of why it is the best formation as United played with freedom and did not stifle the players’ creativity. Any misplaced passes or losing of the ball was due to the player’s fault as the formation allowed enough space to operate.
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#3 Pogba’s Brilliance Against Arsenal
Paul Pogba is someone who can never be far from scrutiny. A world-record price tag coupled with his various haircuts and other public antics makes other fans love to hate him and United fans clamoring to defend their superstar citing his world-class capabilities.
And there is no denying he his world-class. Playing in his second consecutive match against North London rivals, he reveled in his preferred position, bossing the midfield play and controlling the game throughout. He had exceptional positional sense and made the intelligent runs and cute passes all along.
Pogba’s goal (@TheUtdReview- April 29, 2018):
Enroute to his goal, he picked up a pass from Lingard in the middle of the pitch and marauded forward, leaving opposite skipper, Xhaka on his backside, before catching a lucky break as the ball fell to him after hitting the bar and he showed superb anticipation to divert the ball into the net to give United the lead against Arsenal.