Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta successfully maintained a tactical advantage over Man United using a high defensive line and defending as a team. This win is Arteta’s first three points since he has been in charge at Arsenal. It is important to mention how Arsenal defeated a United team who beat Tottenham and Man City in recent fixtures. United had won their last two matches before visiting the Emirates Stadium. Mikel Arteta’s team will now be looking to compete for the top four and Champions League qualifications.
Luiz is relishing playing at left CB The Arsenal team have learned from defeat against Chelsea in the previous fixture. Arsenal won 2-0 against Manchester United by using a rigid defensive line that sat not too high up the pitch, yet not too deep, on the edge of the Arsenal box. David Luiz has been playing to his best abilities since the arrival of Arteta, and is now playing on the left side of central defence as opposed to the right. This tactical change allows Luiz to be on his left, and stronger foot. Luiz has abolished the problems of his early season method of running away from opposition players charging at him, and was my Man of the Match.
In an interview with BT Sport following the victory of United David Luiz said:
“We did a great first half and we were a mature team in the second half because we have to be honest and humble to admit that physically we are not ready.
We showed that second half [in the 2-1 loss to Chelsea] and we showed that today. But when physically you are not there you have to put your hearts and this team is in the moment now to change a lot of things.
We can not change zero to 10 in one day. one week, or one month. But it is beautiful to see the kids how they start to understand the commitment, the behaviours and what they have to do every single day to achieve big things in life and big things in football.
So I think we showed that today and we are going to do big things in the future, but step-by-step.”
David Luiz for me in the quote outlines how Arsenal have improved and how the team can build on success. Arsenal made sure their high defensive line worked against United and Chelsea. Moreover, it was ill discipline and adapting to fresh tactics practiced in training that may have cost Arsenal the loss in our previous match against Chelsea. This tactic was used to defend against the pace of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, who in previous games this season looked to get in behind and score through running at the opposition to open up space.
The threat was eliminated by the Arsenal team who defended as a unit, and this showed the team united in the desire to tackle and track back and help their own back four. Aubameyang, Lacazette and Ozil defended high up the pitch, and also put in vital tackles and won the ball back. This made it easier for the Arsenal defence to retrieve the ball and launch their next attack through a committed effort to zonal mark the United players. Noticeably goalkeeper, Leno, seemed more assured and punched the ball out from corners and free kicks, even springing Arsenal attacking moves.
It will be interesting against Leeds United – whom Arsenal face in the FA CUP on Monday night – to see the team Mikel Arteta picks.
It may tempt him to rest some of the more exhausted players. I feel a strong defensive line including the same back four that played vs United: Kolasinac, Luiz, Sokratis and Maitland Niles. This strong defensive unit would keep the team momentum moving positively. However, saving Xhaka and Torreira, and instead playing Willock and Guendouzi would prove the best alternative for me in midfield.
Arsenal’s next Premier League fixture is against Crystal Palace Away. I feel a similar method of attack will be required to better our performance at home earlier in the season. In that 2-2 draw, a controversial VAR decision saw an Arsenal goal overturned. In terms of the other top six sides who Arsenal could catch in the league, Tottenham and Chelsea are not firing on all cylinders at the moment and both dropped points in the race for the top four.