By now it should be no secret that tactical guru Michael Cox of ZonalMarking is an Arsenal fan. As such, Arsenal fans are blessed in enjoying his tactical analysis, with a Scouting Report generally featured on Arsenal.com before every match. Before we get to his preview of the Man United game, a roundup of the other games this week:
First, Arsenal vs Liverpool:
Liverpool's 3-5-2 vs Arsenal's 4-2-3-1 meant that there were interesting matchups all throughout the pitch. This system put Liverpool's two in-form strikers, Suarez and Sturridge, against Arsenal's in-form CBs, Koscielny and Mertesacker. However, with Arteta shielding the back four in a MOTM performance, we knew how that played out. Liverpool relied unsuccessfully on countering through the center, while Arsenal created its first goal through play from the flanks, which was an area where Arsenal had a 2v1 advantage. Liverpool then changed shape to a 4-4-2ish with Coutinho drifting inside to support Suarez and Sturridge, but Wenger reacted appropriately with his subs to bring on All The Fullbacks, and Arsenal saw out the game comfortably.
A simple image sort of sums up how the first half of this match went:
Arsenal did a smash-and-grab, then brought on All the Defenders. Dortmund lacked a Plan B, and creativity from midfield. But if you want the full tactical roundup, apparently it was based on who had more effective flank-play... Or something like that.
Finally, the Manchester United v Arsenal preview:
I think ManU and Arsenal will both try to work their respective left-side offensively.
ManU has relied on crossing, with Evra filling the Baines role, and the left winger in front of him cutting inside. Arsenal's right-sided midfielder will have to track Evra's runs. If Rosicky plays, as should be expected, he has a great work-rate, and should track back. ManU's left-sided midfielder (Januzaj? Kagawa? Young?) will go up against Sagna, but that should be a good match-up.
ManU's right side will go up against our offensive left, with Smalling and Valencia going up against Cazorla and Gibbs. Smalling isn't as effective offensively, and as a CB by trade, might be tempted to follow Cazorla inside. But Valencia has a great workrate, and will most likely track Gibbs runs forward. Another interesting match-up.
In midfield, it will be Fellaini and Carrick vs Ramsey, Arteta, and Ozil. Arsenal obviously have the edge in midfield. Rooney might drop back to help out, leaving RvP to deal with Koscielny and Mertesacker. On the other side of the pitch, Giroud will battle with Ferdinand and Vidic (or maybe Jones and Evans?), but that should be a good battle as well.
I think our midfield edges theirs, but it should be an interesting game no matter how it goes. I think ManU's strikers will be starved of service, and we'll win it.
Arsenal win 2-1, with Ramsey making a burst from midfield to get a goal, while RvP creates one out of nothing on the other end.