Manchester United must consider formation change vs Arsenal amid injury crisis
After another gruelling week of mediocre football Manchester United fans must have wondered just how their moods could worsen ahead of facing Arsenal on Monday. Then they heard what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had to say at his pre-match press confernece.
News of a potential triple injury blow to Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba not only amplified the worry amongst some fans but it presented an entirely new problem to the United manager.
Although many of United’s best wins under Solskjaer have come when faced with adversity there have been few games with the same amount of pressure riding on them as Monday night.
It is wrong to suggest the upcoming match is a win at all costs affair but is it certainly one which would help Solskjaer’s cause if he were to do so, and in order to accomplish that a change of formation might be advised.
In the worst case scenario Martial, Rashford and Pogba will miss the game, and so it is with this outcome that the first formation has been considered.
The lack of creativity could force United to adopt a more offensive approach in midfield with a switch to just one defensive option anchoring the team.
Nemanja Matic could become the unlikely star in such a role, with Jesse Lingard and Scott McTominay both free to supplement the attack with their support either side. Alternatively it could be McTominay who sits deep with Fred in an advanced role, both good options for Solskjaer.
United’s injury woes mean a start for Lingard is all but assured, and in fairness to him it could be the perfect chance to build upon his first direct goal contribution of the calendar year earlier in the week. The England international has scored four goals for United against Arsenal in all competitions, more than he has versus any other side.
This formation would also offer opportunity for Juan Mata to return to the side and his role could either be on the right wing or switched with Lingard in the middle depending on how the game is gong.
Arsenal faced 31 shots in their dismal draw with Watford a fortnight ago and United should go into the match confident knowing that an attacking approach will likely see them reap the rewards.
Another alternative would be for United to resort to the 4-3-1-2 formation of last season which saw Lingard utilised as a false nine in the attacking line.
Doing so would allow James and Greenwood to form a striker partnership which would be sure to trouble Arsenal with both pace and movement.
However, the obvious draw back is that this suggestion would not only leave United light in terms of a physical presence, but that the duo are both relatively inexperienced to deal with such big game pressure.
Solskjaer has a lot to think about while the rest of the Premier League face-off this weekend and he knows that a response is required when they return to Old Trafford on Monday night.
The upcoming match might lack the implications of labelling it ‘must win’ but with a change in formation the United manager could spring enough of a surprise to ensure they do win it.
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