January 24, 2019
Manchester United will be pitted against Arsenal in the Emirates FA Cup at the Emirates Stadium on Friday evening. The winner will be in the fifth round of the competition and still in with a chance of winning a trophy this season. Arsenal supporters thought that their team was the best things since sliced bread this season because they were above United, winning matches against European minnows, which must be what bragging rights mean.
Imagine, just two years ago, these fans were mocking United as they won the UEFA Europa League. Not all that long ago, the same Arsenal supporters were suggesting that Unai Emery was the best thing they have ever seen as a manager at the club, then the real Arsenal showed up and held United’s drink whilst they closed the gap between the two sides, which in the Premier League right now is down to just goal difference, despite a massive points difference before Jose Mourinho was sacked.
Goalkeeper: Sergio Romero
It has been reported that David De Gea has not travelled to London ahead of the match on Friday evening, which would suggest that Sergio Romero will start against Arsenal. Romero is probably the best understudy goalkeeper in the Premier League and performs like expected whenever he was called upon. It was him that started the majority of matches as United lifted the Europa League two years ago.
Defence: Ashley Young, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw
Under Mourinho, the defence was poor and given that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has the same players, there is confidence there, at times. Victor Lindelof emerged as a player on the rise under Mourinho and has continued to go from strength to strength week after week. That is a good sign for United’s defence. I would expect Ashley Young and Luke Shaw to flank the central defenders with Phil Jones partnering Lindelof, although I would prefer Eric Bailly, a player that Arsenal wants. Show them he’s ours, not theirs.
Midfield: Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic
With both Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera playing together, with Paul Pogba in a more advanced role, United’s midfield has something to it. Matic looked laboured under Mourinho and the constant changes to the midfield meant that United were never really settled in any particular formation. Herrera and Matic have been partnered in the last however many matches and have performed well, letting Pogba do his thing, which has turned into five goals and five assists in his last six matches.
Attacking Midfield: Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial
United’s attack has looked better now that a manager is getting the best out of them and playing them to their strengths. United could do with a right-winger in the team but right now, it seems to be other teams that are buying players whilst United start to extend the contracts of players whose time may well be coming to an end. I expect Pogba to play in the advanced role through the middle with Anthony Martial on the left. I would like to see Alexis Sanchez on the right, just to see if he fits, which could also see him shine.
Striker: Marcus Rashford
Five goals and one assist under Solskjaer. An in-form striker. It goes without saying that he should be involved against Arsenal. Killing this game off early and applying pressure to Arsenal’s back four will see them crack quicker than an eggshell. This United side has something about them now. Confidence, swagger, ability, goals and more importantly, someone behind them who see them for what they are – a talented bunch of lads who have everything to achieve and nothing to lose.