How should Arsenal line up to face Manchester United?
Arsenal have been on a great run of form in the league to somewhat recover from what was a horrendous start to the season. However, this game is where it gets really serious. This is the match that will decide whether or not us fans can get genuinely excited about obtaining European football for next season, or whether perhaps there is still a long way to go. We have had a good recent record against United and will need that to continue if we are to get a result against a United side in very good form. Here is how I think we should line up; do you agree with my selections?
Leno: The German made some important saves in our fixture with Southampton and will surely be important to us getting a result in this one too
Cedric: Cedric at RB is on the presumption that Tierney is fit to play left back again. I have been really impressed with Cedric recently. Defensively I’d say he is as dependable as Bellerin and he offers so much more going forward
Holding: He has been so dependable this season and I’m sure there will be a lot of defending to do in this game. He has to start
Gabriel: Luiz was really shaky against Southampton. I don’t want to risk another performance like that against a team more likely to punish us for it. Also, Gabriel was rock solid at Old Trafford in November and had the entire Man United attack in his pocket
Tierney: I pray this guy is fit. We look decent without him in the side, but with him in the side we feel like a different team. Defensively, he gives us so much confidence and his directness on the overlap makes the attackers’ jobs so much easier
Partey: He bossed the entire Manchester United midfield in November and I am confident he can do it again. He will be key in ensuring Pogba and Fernandes don’t get the ball in space, and to make sure we win those key midfield battles to open up Manchester United on the counter attack
Xhaka: Elneny did well against Manchester United last time out, and Ceballos would allow us to have a bit more creativity. But I think we need a more conservative approach for this game, and in fairness I think Xhaka is on the best form of his entire Arsenal career
Saka: I really hope Manchester United start Alex Telles over Luke Shaw, because I think Saka would give him nightmares on our right hand side. Based on form, I think he’s the best right winger in the league over the last month or so
Smith Rowe: He came off with a slight knock it seemed against Southampton but hopefully will be able to start this one. I think we would predominantly be playing on the counter attack, meaning Smith Rowe would be a better fit than Odegaard. Though if Smith Rowe cannot play, I would be excited to see Odegaard in an Arsenal shirt for the first time
Aubameyang: It is also unclear about whether Auba will be able to play. He has missed the last few days of training sessions but is back with the first team now. In a big game like this, we need our big players. Though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cedric and Pepe on that left hand side if Tierney and Aubameyang are not available
Lacazette: Lacazette is on the form of his life right now. 6 goal involvements in his last 6 league games. I don’t rate the United centre backs too highly, so here’s hoping Laca can cause them all sorts of issues
For me this would be our strongest 11 going into this game. I think if it is possible to get Tierney, Auba and ESR in the team it is so important to do it. This is a big game for us, a win in which could really boost our season and keep our incredible form going. I’m looking at our next 4 games against United, Wolves, Villa and Leeds and I’m thinking if we can get 9 or 10 points out of those next 4 we will have really changed around our expectations for the season and could be set for a late surge for the top 6 or maybe even the top 4. After that, we have a really tough period from late February until early April including games against City, Liverpool and Spurs. If we can pick up points here and there through that period our ‘run in’ is looking very lucrative. We only face two top half teams in our final 8 games (Chelsea and Everton).
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