Arsenal host Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Friday night in an FA Cup fourth round clash.
Both sides will head into this encounter full of confidence, with the Gunners having impressed in their 2-0 defeat of Chelsea last time out, whilst the Red Devils have enjoyed a 100 per cent start to life under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
However, due to Hector Bellerin’s awful injury against the Blues, as covered by Arsenal’s official website, head coach Unai Emery has some huge decisions to make heading into Friday’s game.
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Arsenal employed a 4-3-1-2 diamond system against Chelsea to great effect. However, such an approach is reliant upon the Gunners’ full-backs being able to get forward and attack on the flanks, and still have the required recovery pace and energy to fulfil their defensive duties and not leave their team exposed.
In terms of the athletic demands of this role, Ainsley Maitland-Niles is best suited to taking Bellerin’s place in the starting XI. The likes of Stephan Lichtsteiner, Carl Jenkinson and Shkodran Mustafi all lack the necessary physical and attacking qualities.
Manchester United ought to target Arsenal’s right-back berth on Friday, no matter who starts there. Whilst Maitland-Niles’ pace and technical ability could make him a real weapon for Arsenal in the final third, the 21-year-old is inexperienced defensively and could be caught out.
In order to give the England under-21 international an extra layer of protection, Emery ought to field Lucas Torreira on the right side of the Gunners’ midfield trio. The tenacious Uruguayan can read the game well enough to ensure any spaces left by Maitland-Niles aren’t exploited by the opposition.