THE OLD TRAFFORD MATCH-UP SHOULD BE ABOUT SHARPENING ARSENAL – TACTICALLY by Nicholas Oyoo
Arsenal visit old foes at Old Trafford, Manchester United on Sunday, and then play their crunch Europa League Semi-Final Second Leg at the Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday. The game at Old Trafford is of little significance to Arsenal as we are out of the top four ‘trophy’ battle which would see us play in the Champions League next season. But in Madrid we have the chance for a backdoor entry into the Champions League.
But no one will forget to tell you how in that match-up we have about ten to fifteen percentage chances after blowing up our opportunities at the Emirates when we literarily had Atletico Madrid up against the wall. Now Madrid have three major advantages we must get past in order to play in the final on the 16th of May at the Groupama Stadium, Decines-Charpieu, Lyon, France.
First, this season, Atletico Madrid have made a fortress of Wanda Metropolitano. They have played 26 games, won 18 times, drew 6 times and lost twice. They have scored 45 times and conceded just 8 times.
Second, they scored an away goal and drew the match away. That’s very important in the Europe.
Third, they will have Diego Costa in the lineup next time out and he is a player who is familiar with Arsenal from his days in the EPL with Chelsea.
It would therefore be important if we treated the match-up with Manchester United tomorrow as an opportunity for a ‘friendly’ to prepare for Atletico Madrid. First, like Atletico, Manchester United are 2nd in the league and virtually secured their place in the Champions League and are chasing nothing in the EPL as Manchester City have already won the EPL.
Secondly with a capacity of 74,000, and with fans who love to hate on Arsenal, there can never be a better place to get the feel of what we would face on Thursday, than Old Trafford. But the most important thing is what Arsene Wenger must do to seal the holes in the defense and get more boot for goal in with forwards. We simply must get to convert whatever chances we would get against the one of the meanest defenses in Europe in front of their fans. Out of 28 shot at goal, we only got to shoot at the target 8 times while they had 6 shots with 5 on target.
Unfortunately, from long term evidence Wenger rarely adjusts his tactics to meet the opportunity and occasion. The moment Atletico were reduced to ten men and we needed 5 goals to nil to be sure we would be in the final, he would have reorganized to have the extra man supporting Lacazette upfront.
If he would have pushed Welbeck to create a two-man forward, pushed Bellerin and Monreal to the wingback roles, withdrew Wilshere and brought in Kolasinac or Holding to create Kolasinac, Konsielny and Mustafi 3-man defense. The three-man defense would have allowed more men in the back and Griezmann would have found more bodies to stop him than just the under pressure Koscielny and Mustafi. With a three man at the back setup, the defending players do not need to venture too far into the centre of the game and can make those inspired efforts going out but mostly stay ‘home’ and defend.
Despite, now facing 11 coming Thursday, Wenger must have the tactics to defend solidly and score goals. For me that can be achieved by using the 3.5.2. it should be tested Against Manchester United. If Adopted, I would pick the following players.