Tactical Analysis: Manchester United vs Arsenal

By Luismi Loro

03-November-2020 on Analysis

7 minute read

There were a lot of high expectations going into this match. Although neither has had the best start to the season and both currently sit mid-table, this was a clash between two attractive teams with world class players and managers with tactical success.

 

In the end, our expectations were not entirely met.

 

Using Nacsport with InStat and KlipDraw, let's take a closer look...

Key Points

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 1

 

A Game of Give and Take

 

United took to the field with an attacking formation of 4-3-1-2 with Bruno Fernandes taking point at the forefront of the midfield diamond. This formation occasionally warped into a 4-3-3, especially when pressuring Arsenal in their own half.

 

Arsenal vs Manchest United - 2

 

Superiority at the back. 5 vs 3 to Man United

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 3

 

A game within a game. 6 vs 5 in this zone

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 4

 

United in the low block. 4-3-1-2 / 4-3-3

 

In attack, Man United had great problems trying to overcome Arsenal’s middle block and, despite the occasional breakthrough, they found it difficult to progress. They only really posed danger in fast attacks linked to Rashford and Greenwood.

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 5

 

Elneny chasing Bruno, being pulled out of position and freeing up Rashford

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 6

 

Quick attack, pulling defense out of position

 

In defence, United suffered out wide, especially when Arsenal launched a counter from midfield and quickly played the ball out wide, bypassing the central defenders and looking for a 2v1 against a winger. These situations were where the Gunners had their best chances.

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 7

 

Arsenal attack 2 vs 1 up the United wing 

 

For their part, Arsenal squared up in 4-4-3 that sometimes mutated into a 4-4-2 depending on the movements of Aubameyang and Saka. When keeping Aubameyang open, Saka came inside with Partey and Elneny to form the 4-3-3.

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 8

 

Arsenal with a dangerous counter attack

 

However, when Saka went high and wide, Aubameyang cut inside and paired up with Lacazette as a second striker.

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 9

 

Arsenal attack 4-4-2 / 4-3-3 with Aubameyang and Saka interchanging on the outside and in

 

Off the ball, Arsenal applied high pressure with Elneny paying special attention containing Bruno Fernandes. This made life very difficult for their opponents. In the upper middle block they stood at 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-3 depending on the positioning of Lacazette who sometimes stayed up mixing it up with Man U’s back line. The two wingmen, Willian and Aubameyang dropped back and inside to shore up the midfield. And the wing backs, Saka and Bellerín, pushed up to fill the gaps. 

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 10

 

Low / middle block. Arsenal in 3-4-1-2

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 11

 

Bruno pulling away from Elneny and generating space

 

In the low block, they played a 5-2-3 which sometimes transformed into a 5-4-1 when Aubameyang and Willian dropped back to support.

 

Manchester United vs Arsenal - 12

 

Low block- 5-2-3 / 5-4-1

 

Throughout the entirety of the 90 minutes, both teams were evenly matched. Very few chances were afforded to either team during the first half. In the second half, United dominated a little more on the attack but still could not generate many scoring opportunities.

 

Arsenal accepted the counter attacking role and, despite having very few chances in the 2nd half, won a penalty after a play down the wing (where United suffered most) ended with Pogba bringing down Bellerín in the box. Aubayemang converted and this proved to be the decisive factor in a poor game. 

 

Substitutions did nothing to change the flow of the match and, in the last minutes, Arsenal defended extremely well against a United side desperate to even up the game. There were many crosses into the box and set-pieces utilised but all to no avail.

 

Conclusion

 

• The game was fast paced and intense but there was a lack of football being played.

 

• Neither team was able to dominate and impose their style.

 

• Goal scoring opportunities were scarce and, in the end, it was an Arsenal penalty that separated the two.

 

• Overall, there was too much respect and a fear of losing in an important match that would help each team climb the league.

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