Arsenal vs. Manchester United: 5 Tactics the Red Devils Got Right

Yoosof Farah@@YoosofFarahSenior Writer IIIJanuary 22, 2012

Arsenal vs. Manchester United: 5 Tactics the Red Devils Got Right

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    Manchester United stuck to their game plan better than Arsenal to record a thrilling 2-1 win at the Emirates.

    Sir Alex Ferguson's side closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City back to three points after the Citizens beat Tottenham Hotspur, 3-2, earlier on Sunday.

    The Red Devils edged out the Gunners in North London, executing their tactics slightly better than Arsene Wenger's men, who to their credit also stuck to their coaches' orders.

    Here's how United beat Arsenal, with the five main things they got right to avoid a revenge attack for that 8-2 Old Trafford annihilation.

Fast Tempo

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    For the whole 90 minutes, Manchester United matched Arsenal and kept a high tempo to the game—so much so that at certain points, it was the home side who were trying to stifle the match.

    It was a great tactic to use by Sir Alex, and done well by his players, as they dictated the game at times on Arsenal's stomping ground—a huge psychological boost for United, and something that gave them increasing confidence as the match progressed.


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    Manchester United again matched Arsenal when it came to the counterattack, using the fast tempo of the match to hit the Gunners on the break.

    Arsene Wenger's side have been the best in the Premier League this season on the counter, while United have long been famed for their ability to quickly catch out opponents in attack.

    The away team did it better than the home side on this occasion, putting more pressure on their opponent's defence and fatiguing them that bit more until they got pulled apart to allow Danny Welbeck to score the winner.

Wing Focus

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    Manchester United, as they always do, kept the ball to the wings for large parts of the match, and it worked with both goals being assisted from the wing.

    It was great tactical execution by United, sticking to the plan, keeping the ball on the flanks and not being too tempted to drive through the middle.

    That allowed the Red Devils to bypass Arsenal's stronger midfield numbers, thus giving the home team less possession and less chance to imprint their playing style on the game.

    Which in turn helped United gain more momentum in the match, and ultimately the three points.

No-Nonsense Defending

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    A Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling centre-back pairing may not have the same ring to it as a Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand one, but for Manchester United their two central defenders against Arsenal were key.

    Whenever they had a chance, the two centre-backs, as well as Patrice Evra, cleared the lines instead of trying to play their way out of danger.

    That meant less play was in United's action zone, taking pressure off the back four and putting it onto Arsenal's defence, which allowed the away team to work double the shots on-target than their hosts, and of course eventually double the goals.

Wayne Rooney Role

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    Wayne Rooney's role against Arsenal worked out well for Manchester United at the Emirates.

    His deeper position to spread the play allowed United to keep the ball to the wings, gave Danny Welbeck the chance to take up great positions in the penalty area and ultimately helped the team keep the game at a high tempo.

    He basically took one for the team, partly sacrificing his own chance of scoring to help his teammates find the net. It clearly worked.