After Chelsea’s draw yesterday afternoon, the game at Old Trafford will give both Arsenal and Manchester United a fantastic opportunity of taking control of the Premier League. The game should be a classic – they always are. Arsenal head to Old Trafford boasting the joint best away record in the Premier League and in possession of top spot after replacing United at the summit last weekend when the Red Devils’ trip to Blackpool was postponed. United, however, have the most formidable home record in the division this season and are now the only team still unbeaten in the league in England. Manchester United should go into the game favourites but what can Arsenal do tonight. We have put together five ways that Arsenal can beat Manchester United, and end their unbeaten record.
Without a doubt, the Premier League’s best player so far this season. Samir Nasri has been phenomenal so far and the Frenchman will be to key unlocking Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson and his coaching staff will have made plans for Nasri but if Arsenal get the ball to him early and in space, Nasri could cause severe damage. His diagonal runs could harm Rio Ferdinand, if he not 100 per cent mobile. Arsenal need Nasri to fire tonight, and his threats could force Patrice Evra to play within his own half rather than venture forward. Nasri will have to withstand some hard challenges tonight, but as long as he keeps his cool Arsenal could end Manchester United’s unbeaten record.
Play Robin Van Persie
Robin Van Persie is Arsena’ls best striker. The forward has got himself fit – if he is fit he has to play. Last season, with Van Persie Arsenal scored an average of three goals a game – it is significantly less without him. Chamakh has made a good start to his Arsenal career, but tonight needs the lethal touch of Van Persie. Ferdinand and Vidic will be happier playing against Chamakh, Van Persie would present them with a more difficult evening. Arsenal will have fire power from the bench, but the front three of Nasri, Arshavin and Van Persie would cause Manchester United all sorts of problems.
Keep the ball – make Manchester United chase
If Arsenal are to win tonight, they need to keep the ball. It is as simple as that. Last season, in the match at Old Trafford Arsenal were sensational in the first half, but lost the initiative by giving the ball away in the second. United went on to win but Arsenal were the better side. Tonight if they keep the ball and move Manchester United around, the home side will struggle to live with them. Arsenal need to take advantage of the age of Paul Scholes, and in the first half keep him moving. If they do not pass the ball well, Scholes will have an easy game. If they make him chase and hurry he will not last the game. Arsenal wont win the game in the first half but by keeping the ball Manchester United will get frustrated and gaps will appear.
Stop Paul Scholes, stop Manchester United
Arsenal need to deploy tactics to stop Paul Scholes playing. If Arsenal stop Scholes, United are devoid of creativity. Fletcher and Carrick do not have the imagination of Scholes, Anderson is too inconsistent and none of them offer his passing range. If Paul Scholes is allowed an easy night, Rooney will fire. If the supply can be stopped at source, Rooney will become isolated. There is no doubt that Rooney can conjure something out of nothing – but you can’t defend that. Arsenal can keep the United forward line quiet by stopping Scholes.
Rafael is United’s weak link
Arsenal have to get at Rafael. The youngster is the weak link in the United back line, and his inexperience has cost Manchester United in the past. He is very eager to get forward but leaves space in behind, if Arsenal can exploit this, United could be in trouble. It requires Gael Clichy to take a few risks and join attacks, something that Arsene Wenger may be cautious of. Manchester United will try to counter act this by playing Park Ji-Sung from the left, but Arsenal have the ability to attack this weakness. If Arsenal can get their two one ones against the young full back, Manchester United could struggle this evening.