Why Arsenal will defeat Manchester United on Saturday

Arsenal cruised into the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup with a straightforward 3-0 win against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

Croatian striker Eduardo da Silva was the hero with a well-taken double before Brazilian midfielder Denilson sealed the result with a deflected third goal. Arsenal broke the deadlock as early as the 8th minute when Eduardo fired in a great effort from the edge of the area following a neat pass from strike partner Nicklas Bendtner. They preceded to pepper the home side’s goal for the rest of the first half but were not rewarded again until five minutes into the second half when Eduardo finished neatly from Kieran Gibbs’ pass. The result was put behind doubt in the 69th minute when Denilson shot from distance and his strike was deflected home by Sheffield defender Chris Morgan. Three goals, three points, and another assured performance.

Eduardo celebrates with Bendtner against Sheffield UnitedThe same eleven players that I predicted to start yesterday did, but not in the positions that I expected. Justin Hoyte played alongside Alex Song in central defence with Lassana Diarra shuffled to the right and Kieran Gibbs moved to the left. Gilberto Silva surprisingly started next to Denilson in the centre of the park, whilst Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby took up the flanks. Predictably, Bendtner and Eduardo started up front.

I didn’t get to see the match but from all reports the scoreline did not flatter Arsenal. From what I could gather Wenger’s young side were in control of the game from start to finish and the defence was rarely troubled by the Championship side. Just from the result, highlights were the good performance of Hoyte and Song in the centre of defence, Lukasz Fabianski’s second clean sheet in as many matches, as well as Eduardo grabbing a couple of great goals. Eduardo has not made his mark yet this season and Wenger has pointed to the six-month adaption period as a major factor, but he produced two precise finishes that should have Arsenal fans excited about what he will deliver when his works his way into some form.

How Arsenal should start against Manchester UnitedWhy Arsenal are suited beat United

Although it was important for the young guns to pass another test at Sheffield I have to admit that my attention this week has mostly been focused on the upcoming clash with Manchester United. It has been years since Arsenal and United have met as the top two sides in England and I can’t say how excited I am about the game. Supporters of Arsenal will be well aware of how well the team have done so far this season, but it with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side arguably in even better form going into the match it should be a tight encounter. It may sound biased but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I really think Arsenal are going to beat Manchester United this weekend.

United have been in sensational attacking form of late, scoring four goals in each of their last four matches and that has been down to the efforts of strikers Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney as well as Cristiano Ronaldo on the right and Luis Nani and Ryan Giggs on the left. However, when you look at Arsenal’s defensive line Gael Clichy, William Gallas, Kolo Toure and Bacary Sagna, I really feel that this is a group of players who are perfectly suited to nullifying Manchester United’s threat.

Gallas and Toure often struggle against taller strikers who pose an aerial threat, as they did at times against Peter Crouch last weekend. Neither Rooney nor Tevez fall into this category; their strength lies in their pace and movement off the ball, attributes that I feel Gallas and Toure are perfectly capable of defending against. The Arsenal centre-backs are arguably the two quickest in the league and are most comfortable when the ball is played on the deck, as United do, so I really feel that this is a key battle that the home side will win.

How Manchester United should start against ArsenalThe right blend

In a similar way I believe that Clichy and Sagna are perfectly matched against Ronaldo and Nani/Giggs. The key to defending United’s wide men is pace and stamina and Clichy and Sagna have it in spades. Manchester United will look to isolate the wide defenders – especially Clichy – but I feel that both defenders have the recovery speed required to minimise their impact, especially with Mathieu Flamini shuffling across in front of the defence to act as support.

The 4-5-1 formation that Wenger will surely employ should allow Flamini and Fabregas to crowd out Anderson and allow Alexander Hleb, Tomas Rosicky and Emmanuel Eboue the freedom to push forward and support Emmanuel Adebayor. Adebayor’s job will be to occupy one or both of Vidic and Ferdinand as often as possible and allow the nippier players like Hleb and Rosicky the time and space to wreak havok up front.

So there you have it. It may sound overly simplistic but I really do think that Arsenal have the right team to beat United. I didn’t feel that they had the right team to beat Liverpool and I’m not sure the players are right to defeat Chelsea but I really think the match-up against Manchester United will work in Arsenal’s favour. The defence is suited to United’s attack and the attack is not suited to United’s defence and for that very reason I really think Arsenal will win this weekend.

There will be a full preview of the match tomorrow when the squads are announced and I’ll also be including the thoughts of one of the blog’s regular readers, Manchester United fan ‘Ronaldo7’, on the weekend clash. Until then, have a good one.

What do you think?

Have your say on the Carling Cup or Arsenal-United by leaving a comment.



  1. good artical, but i think arsene will go with the 4-4-2 with eduardo partnering ade at the front!!
    I also wouldnt be surprized to see gilberto or diarra start ahead of flamini!

    my sqaud would look sumthing like this:

    a 2-1 win for arsenal!!!!
    ade to score!

  2. I actually agree with you even though I am a United fan, this article is very good. I think with the formation you propose, Arsenal will defeat ManUtd. I just really hope it won’t be with to big of a margin…

  3. Nice article and yes i believe Arsenal do have the defensive players out wide to frustrate united – and i’m an MU fan! Always great games these with tension, flair and sometimes all out war on show. For me the winner will be the side that gets the midfield right. I have been really impressed with Arsenal this year and the passing is second to none (you passed rings around the pool last week) – Hargreaves will have to be at his best and i also think Fletcher will need to play as Anderson is in no way a defensive midfielder. It is going to be one hell of a game for sure!

  4. i would be very dissapointed to see walcott play on the flank, i think he should be brought on as an ‘impact player’ with 20 minutes to go, so that he can run u front along with adebayor.

    and i(as asouth african) hope wallcott never ever plays for england, cus we all knw how arrogant people who play for england get!!!!
    it will only be bad for him…especialy at such a young age!!!!!!

  5. Thanks for the kind words, guys. Great to hear some really unbiased comments from some Manchester United supporters on an Arsenal blog! As I said, I just feel that our defence has what it takes to contain United and that’s why I think we will win.

    Leroux – I can’t see Eduardo partnering Adebayor – if that was the case then he surely wouldn’t have started in the Carling Cup.

  6. I sure hope you’re right buddy!!! Beating them would be an amazing shot in the arm of belief that we could go all the way. Not just for the fans but the team!!
    I agree with you on the team, I think that’s what he will go with and I think the result will largely depend on Adebayor’s performance. He seemed out of sorts against Liverpool and I hope Wenger has got him pumped up for saturday. On his day he can be an absolute handful for defenders and we’ll need him to put in a performance like he did last season at Old Trafford. I think it’ll be 0-0 at half time and we’ll nick it late on. Walcott and Eduardo should come on and finish them off.

  7. Gooner49 – “I think it’ll be 0-0 at half time and we’ll nick it late on.”

    Sounds like the fixture at Old Trafford last season. Adebayor will come good I believe. His job is not to score on the weekend, but to occupy both Ferdinand and Vidic enough to let the little guys around him do the damage. A goal would be a bonus!

  8. I’m just wondering which united player will CHEAT against Arsenal. Will it be scumbag rooney like he did before against Arsenal or Saha like he did against Chelsea. United do that kind of stuff against BETTER opponents

  9. to spanish fry:

    I also thought he wouldnt start in the carling cup and premier leage.

    I think wenger also wanted to play him ONLY in the carling cup, but after his perfomance i think he has basicly forced wenger to play him.

    (his run in the second goal was timed to perfection) and that is exactly what we need against Man Utd!!!

  10. I’m pretty confident of a win as well Spanish Fry.
    But really I would rather see two strikers playing up front. I am not a big fan of the 4-5-1… Especially with Adebayor up front. I like him as a player, but he has been lacking in the finishing department for a fair while. I would love to see either Eduardo or Walcott partner Adebayor in the starting line-up. Also, I don’t understand comments from other readers suggesting week-in-week-out that Gilberto or Diarra will be coming into the midfield. It just isn’t going to happen… Flamini is still in terrific form next to Cesc and I see no reason to drop him. I love Gilberto, and Diarra seems like a quality player, and I would be happy to see them in the team, but Flamini has grabbed his chance with both hands and will not let go.
    In the trash talk I’ve been involved in with Man Utd supporters I have suggested a 4-0 routing. More realistically though, I predict a clean sheet and a 2-0 thriller.

  11. to grant:
    i agree with you that flamini has impressed all off us, but i feel that by not playing diarra, we are wasting a wonderfull talent. dont get me wrong flamini is playing well, but he is at his peak now, while diarra can only get better.

    I think diarra is a must for the phisical games like blackburn and chelsea ect.

  12. Leroux – It’s a fair point, but when you consider that they’ve probably been training all week for the Manchester United game I don’t think Wenger will be changing his lineup based on one good performance. Personally, I don’t mind if Eduardo starts but I just can’t see it happening.

    Grant – “I don’t understand comments from other readers suggesting week-in-week-out that Gilberto or Diarra will be coming into the midfield.”

    I don’t understand either. Flamini and Fabregas are working so well together in the middle of the park that it would be madness to change it up at this stage. I like your comments, you mention some really good stuff here. On Adebayor, I think he’s absolutely invaluable to the side this weekend and as I said earlier it will be more about his ability to occupy the central defenders to allow space for his teammates than score himself. For the record, I’m also going for a 2-0 win. There would probably be good money on it too! 😉

  13. ur probaly right!

    sorry that im writing so much, but my mom thinks im studying!!!!!

    I think we should get that double club thing ,that they hav in england, here in south africa.
    becauze i think this math im suposed to be doing would be so much more fun if it had anything to do with arsenal!!!!!!!!!

  14. my bad!!!
    you can kill me if arsenal loose to manutd becuz of me!!!!

    but karma is my bitch!!!hahaha

    karma only work on old ppl like you spanish fry!!!

    15year-olds are immune to karma!!!

    And so is arsenal!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. I am sure your line up is correct. it will be 4-5-1 with Eboue and Ros on the flanks – neither of whmom had a great game at Anfield. but this is a different game and as long as everyone has a decent game, we have a good chance. I would like to see walcott used as a sub to scare the sh*te out of them. But if anyone is having a poor game then get them off the pitch, as should have been done last week.

  16. Leroux – I think you’ll find I’m not that old…

    gazzap – The great thing I see about the squad is that there is great potency off the bench. There are players who are regularly coming off the bench into the game and making a difference – think Walcott, Bendtner, even Gilberto in his own unique way. If the game is 0-0 or 1-1 then I believe we have the players to alter the game in our favour, just like against Liverpool.

  17. The game at Anfield is over the match at the Emirates is about to begin.It is this game that the Premiership title may depend.To retain their title Ferguson must break us at the Emirates so the whole fury and might of Manchester United will be turned against us and if we fail then the whole Premiership including Chelsea and Liverpool will sink into the abyss of despair.However,if we are victorious then all of football will rejoice that the true guardians of the beautiful game have prevailed.So let our boys brace themselves for the struggle ahead and acquit themselves in such a manner that even if Arsenal Football Club endures for another thousand years fans will still say THIS was their finest hour (and a half).

    Apologies to Winston Churchill

  18. Shooooo!!! What a load of rubbish I have just read. For the two guys who claim to be united fans, since you say Arsenal will beat United I am sure they will also give you a sponsorship. As good as Arsenal have been this season, I will wait for Fergies suprise thise saturday and then all of you Dumbos can post your photos cause I will like to see your SAD FAECES, ooops I meant FACES.

  19. I think we are getting away playing two lightweight midfielders against underdog teams(give us respect) at the moment.
    The statistic of our recent results seems to suggest that.
    -B’burn(1-1), Westham(0-1)(we could have lost it).
    -The game against Liverpool on Sunday is showing that the current formation remains lightweight against some teams.
    I the best formulae will be to play two strong defensive midfielders(Diara/Flamini or Diara/ Gilberto) and release Fabregas in a free creative rule, as it happened when Gilberto came on, we scored.
    We could be even stronger with this formation:


    Sagna-Toure-Gallas- Flamini.

    Diarra- Gilberto.

    Eboue- Fabregas- Hleb.


  20. dude wat ever the article says is utter rubbish!!!sorry to say but united will go with a plan!!!so wtv the article said will not cm to effect!!!

  21. Nice article and i totally tend to agree with spanish fry that if united play both rooney and tevez they might struggle as both are pacy forwards which toure and gallas prefer.. though if saha plays(is he injured???) it might be a different prospective… as was seen last weekend at anfield of the 4 forwards pool used it was only crouch who caused our central defenders some problems.. about the wide players well it was seen twice last season that despite being in awesome form ronaldo had off days against us… that was basically cause he couldnt use his pace and skills against the very pacy arsenal full back combination of clichy and eboue.. On the whole i would go with a 2-0 arsenal win..
    cheers.. 🙂

  22. The article is good but it looks like the writer concentrate more on united attack. He is kind of scared of united coz he didn’t talk about the Arsenals attack.

  23. im a united supporter, but youve mentioned how ull neutralise us in attack, what about u! adebayor-vidic(vidic at his best wil keep him quiet) , fabregas will be laying against harg wholl probably mark him the whole game, and brown is more than capable of stopping rosicky. so now well see, though i think utds main thret will be giggs and rooney, not ronaldo and tevez. hopefully arsenal wont say we cheated at the end like they always seem to do.

  24. Nice comments everyone. It’s good to hear things both positive and negative about what I’ve written. The reason I’ve focused mostly on the Manchester United attack is that I believe it is their main weapon. However, I think the players in the Arsenal defence are perfectly matched to stop Manchester’s attack. I don’t think the same can be said of United’s defence. Ferdinand and Vidic are brilliant players, and Brown and Evra aren’t half bad either, but the problem I see for United is that theirs is not a back four that seems perfectly suited to stop Arsenal. I don’t know if the pace will be there to match Hleb, Rosicky and Eboue, or Adebayor for that matter. I’m expecting Hargreaves to mark Fabregas but when it’s all said and done, he’s not the sort of player who can really be man-marked. He’s a touch-and-pass player and I don’t know if Hargreaves is suited to stopping that sort of player. It’s probably worth emphasising that this is my opinion – I’ve had a pretty good track record tipping results so far this season (I’ve only got the Newcastle Carling Cup match wrong) and I’m eager to see if this one comes true as well. In the end, it’s all about a great game between two excellent teams and I can’t wait for it to start.

  25. I believe who ever wins the battles in midfield will have the upper hand. Its crazy to suggest that M.utd attack will be paralyzed by Toure and Gallas but I agree to a certain extent that Arsenal are much more suited to playing attacking teams they leave holes at back with the Arsenal speed of one touch passing they can be deadly. Just like legend M.Ali (Float like a butterfly. sting like a be).While M.utd are a bit like Mike Tyson Imagine M.ali V Mike Tyson in their prime. This is what this match is going be.

  26. firtsly, those guys who call themselves united fans and are tipping a arsenal win…pleasseee dont call urself a united fan again….Also very good article Spanish Fry but i disagree with you on a few things…everyone stay tuned to my article on why united will beat arsenal…only one more sleep i cant wait..

  27. great article.. very positive esp to Gone-nerss.. Im just curious why u only mentioned 2 of our 4 defenders. Evra and Brown is somehow vanished in your equation. U are saying that your defender can easily cope with our attackers.. one on one.. but our defenders can really cope with your strikers.. it is a very general statement not supported by valid reasoning.We are talking about Ronaldo, Giggs and Nani.. players who can dribble with pace.. its not only pace that matters, it is skills that often make you like a fools.. MU always play badly against Liverpool but not Arsenal.. Arsenal is very much lightweight at the center of midfield compare to Liverpool.. unlike previous years, now we have Owen Hargreaves and Anderson.. players who have the strength to contain overloading attacking and also support our attacking game.. as long as MU didnt allow Arsenal to play their game (close marking), I believed Gone-ners will be neutralised.. just the same way Reyes was neutralised and remain paralysed till he left Arsenal.. remember that moment!!!

  28. I’m a die hard United fan and this an Intereting article. But one fact you seem to forget is that since the inclusion of Hargreaves “We” have become much compact in the middle of park. Arsenals “oil” in the engine room is fabregas and if he ineffective i see them struggling. Unfortunately for Arsenal Hargreaves is the kind of player to that would take fabregas out of the game. He sits comfortably in front of the back four and his presence in definetely goin to be felt. If Arsenal can him out of the game then it would make for an interesting game but if not, our experience in every area of the pitch as supposed to Arsenals youth would prevail

  29. amiaq_ferguson – Some nice points. I left Brown and Evra out of the equation because I wanted to focus solely on the battles where I thought the match will be won and lost.

    Ronaldo7 – Why can’t someone tip against their own team? I thought that Liverpool would draw with Arsenal last weekend but that doesn’t make me any less of a fan. Imagine if you were following a smaller club, you’d be delirious to tip your team every week.

    Fawehinmi – The Fabregas-Hargreaves battle is going to be intense, but I feel the Spaniard has the edge. If things do get clogged up I also really feel that Hleb has what it takes to break the game apart.

    Again everyone, thanks for the comments. It’s going to be one hell of a game.

  30. I cannot understand some of the Manchester fan’s talking about how Arsenal have broken down when faced against United. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Arsenal beat United twice last season, and were the best top ‘four’ team when playing the other ‘top fours’, recording on one loss. In fact, I’m pretty sure Arsenal have a pretty fine record against United over the past few years.

  31. Hrm, for some reason this comment didn’t post before (well unless it got moderated). I was saying that I have published my own views on this match, at my own blog – many of which are very similar to Spanish Fry’s. Have a look here.

  32. In fact, according to the bbc.

    “Sir Alex Ferguson, who celebrates 21 years in charge at Old Trafford on Tuesday, comes up against his Arsenal opposite number Arsene Wenger for the 34th time. Of the 33 previous encounters United have won 11, Arsenal 13. Seven of the nine other games finished level and two were decided on penalty shoot-outs; United won the 2003 Community Shield, and Arsenal the 2005 FA Cup final on penalties. “

  33. I get what is being said here but feel some other things aren’t being taken into account. Adebeyor on form has been stated before as a real nuisance to mark, but we have a great defensive pairing in the centre, a centerback on the right too and as regards dealing with pacey players, well other than Vidic the rest are very pacey amongst the quicker defenders in the league.

    Also as regards your attack, with the pace at the front, you seem to play it around and without the incisivenes of Walcott(as I suspect Eboue will play again, and he seems to lose the ball and have too little dangerous product for a winger) you seem to pass it around in front of the defence a lot, which with a more lively set of defenders and Hargreaves offering protection, added to either Anderson who does work a bit or Carrick who is a great psoitional interceptor of the ball, it won’t be as easy.

    You also state that you are confident your defence can handle us and state pace as your defence. In the case of Rooney and Tevez they are the exception to the rule for small strikers, as a pair of strikers who both tend to drop back they don’t use the tactic as much of running onto balls behind the defenders, the very thing having pacey defenders are used for. Instead they pass their way through with quick interchange.

    Your fullbacks are also liable to be under more pressure than against Liverpool, I think both of them are good but have to watch more for Evra supporting our LW whether Giggs or Nani and Brown (who can’t cross for shit but at least tries to get forward at times) supporting Ronaldo.

    Finally one of the most important factors in your win against Liverpool was the poor ball retention of the Liverpool players something we should be better at, in total completed passes we are actually ahead of ye by a fair margin (and that also counts if you add an average game on to that). Scholes was a factor but the on form Anderson and the returning Carrick are very good passers.

    Conclusion: For all that mainly countering your arguments, I still give it as a very tight call where I personally would only favor us by a small margin

  34. id love to see us winning, a good 3-0 would be perfect lol but i cant see it. id love to see eduardo come on and finish them off, am so excited about this guy, he can really finish teams off, that second goal against sheff utd, just showed composure and class.
    4-4-2 could do the trick and am sure we played 442 last season exepct old trafford so maybe we might see eduardo.
    rumours are that gilberto might be called in, but we have to see about that

  35. Can’t you guys write clear and simple English? The spelling and grammar evident in these comments are atrocious. Learn the basics of the language and express yourself accordingly.

  36. arsenal 1 – 4 manchester united


    1. arsenal’s weakness is defending set-pieces and in vidic, ronaldo and even ferdinand these days, manu could create havoc in that dept.

    2. toure is just a midfielder playing at centre back. he has loads of pace and has come on really well, but he always makes the odd mistake in every game (not always punished) but against manu (especially in this form) it could be very costly.

    3. almunia could be exploited. a few early crosses in and if he’s not too assured, united will keep ’em comin’

    4. from what i’ve seen of sagna, he is prone to have lapses in concerntration and i think manu will target that arsenal right-back channel. unless sagna and eboue play a great game, i think ronaldo, giggs/nani and evra will contantly threat.

  37. I don’t agree, but each to their own. The comment about Sagna I think is a little off – and I don’t think Almunia can be exploited the way you suggest. As for Toure, think what you want, he is a world-class centre back and will get the job done.

  38. I believe games are won and lost in every part of the field, so all this talk of Vidic and Ferdinand v Adeb. and whoever else is all shite. Games are won by good football and also silly mistakes just like the one from Ronaldo when he presented the goal to Adeb. last season. I just hope for a United win as in such games with so much talent on the field one cannot even think of predicting the result. I just hope that if United dominate the game as we did in 2005 FA cup final, they manage a couple of goals. ManU till I die.

  39. I agree with the comment about the atrocious english.

    Someone mentioned Carrick – isn’t he injured. I can’t see how that point is relevant at all.

  40. Carrick is back from injury, probably not fully match fit but will be a good option from the bench.

  41. Well as i read your article…i couldnt but agree…however i disagree on one thing…the ability of any arsenal defender to cap with ronaldo’s pace and trickery or giggs experience…the wings would pose the biggest threats on arsenals defences thus freeing from time to time rooney or tevez…given the free role that ronaldo plays going from one side to another arsenal’s defences have alot to worry about…this will be a beatifull matchup…and hope the best team wins 🙂

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