Manchester United vs. Arsenal: Predicting United's Starting 11 Against Arsenal

Devil in a New DressSenior Writer IAugust 24, 2011

Manchester United vs. Arsenal: Predicting United's Starting 11 Against Arsenal

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    Manchester United's first two league games of the season are out of the way and United have left each game with maximum points.

    Despite fielding Manchester United's second youngest side ever, Sir Alex Ferguson's squad laid down a marker by demolishing Tottenham Hotspurs at Old Trafford.

    Next for Manchester United are their long time rivals Arsenal. Arsene Wenger's men haven't had the best start to the season and it will be their goal to derail United's quest for a 20th successive home game win.

    Let them try!

GK: David De Gea

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    David de Gea got his first competitive clean sheet for Manchester United against Tottenham on Monday, and boy did he do it in style.

    Looking every bit like £18 million, David de Gea oozed a confidence and assurance that will have impressed Sir Alex Ferguson and will no doubt see him start against Arsenal.

    Playing at Old Trafford quite literally calmed him down, and it will be great for his development that his first big game in a United shirt will be at Old Trafford where the fans visibly took to him.

    Former Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney has backed De Gea to become a Manchester United legend, saying:

    "At 20 years of age he can only learn and get better. And when I say get better, he's blooming brilliant now. He can reach the standards of Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar."

LB: Patrice Evra

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    With the Manchester United defense depleted due to injuries to Rafael Da Silva, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, it will be important that a bit of experience is brought into the side. This is where Patrice Evra comes in.

    Evra missed the first game of the season because of a minor knock, but he played in United's home game against Tottenham where his intricate link-up play and defense work was impressive.

    Arsenal loathe Patrice Evra, so it is fitting that the French international will be United's captain.  

RB: Chris Smalling

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    Why fix it if it ain't broke?

    With cameo performances that have kept Fabio Da Silva—one of Manchester United's starters in the Champions League final—on the bench, Chris Smalling is the favorite to start at right back for United.

    If he keeps on this path, Smalling will have a great Manchester United career. His versatility has already put him in the running for player of the season.   

CB: Johnny Evans

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    It's a toss-up between Johnny Evans and Phil Jones, and I'll have to go with seniority. 

    Despite a few shaky moments, Johnny Evans was very solid at the back for United against Tottenham, and I see him starting for United at center back.

    Evans has displayed some good form for United over the past few weeks and is probably the most experienced of United's young defenders.

    This experience will come in handy against an often beguiling Gunners side.

CB: Rio Ferdinand

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    Personally, I'd prefer Phil Jones to start alongside Johnny Evans, but with reports that Rio Ferdinand's injury sustained against West Bromwich Albion is not as serious as thought, it seems most likely that Sir Alex Ferguson will go for experience.

    Although, saying that, this is a more youthful Arsenal side without the threat of old, and maybe Rio Ferdinand's experience may not be needed.

    However, I can't see Sir Alex not starting Ferdinand if he is fit.

LM: Ashley Young

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    At this moment in time, there is no rival to Ashley Young's position as left-winger and that may continue to be the case if he keeps on playing as he is.

    To add to that, when Lionel Messi has singled you out for praise, you know you're doing something right.

    When asked about the possibility of Young playing centrally, Sir Alex Ferguson had this to say about him:

    "Ashley can play in different positions but I'm not saying it's going to happen at the moment, he's filling the left-hand side very well but there's options to play him right or off the front."

    "The option to play him centrally is not looking great for him, though, with Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Dimitar Berbatov plus even Ryan Giggs can play there. So we're looking more at the wide positions for him."

RM: Luis Nani

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    Nani has enjoyed a great start to the season and is most likely going to start against Arsenal.

    With Antonio Valencia still recovering from injury, and with Ashley Young preferred as a left-winger, Nani's place in the United team against Arsenal seems secure.

    The Portuguese International's threat on the counterattack is well documented and Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking to use this threat against an attacking side like Arsenal. 

    Nani vs Arsenal Extended Highlights 

MC: Anderson

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    At the heart of this new "youthful" Manchester United side that is getting ready to take the Premier League by storm, is one man: Anderson.

    Sir Alex Ferguson's belief in Anderson is the foundation on which this United side is built. The Brazilian midfielder, now a regular in the side, has become United's man of the midfield and thus—like Paul Scholes—he is at the heart of every transition from defense to offense and vice-versa that United make.

    Sooner rather than later, it will be hard to envisage a United side without him. The way I see it, he has to be the first name on the team sheet.

MC: Tom Cleverley

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    I also think that sooner rather than later, Tom Cleverley's position in the Manchester United midfield will be a foregone conclusion.

    Cleverley is Eve to Anderson's Adam, bread to his butter....okay enough, that sounds gross.

    Cleverley's Manchester United career has got off to a blinder, and  Sir Alex Ferguson's preference for the young midfielder over Michael Carrick is just reward.

    Former Manchester United player Teddy Sheringham put it this way:

    "Cleverley in midfield looks like a very accomplished player, he plays a very experienced game in midfield, just passing it and moving it when he has to. I’m sure he’s had years of watching Roy Keane and Paul Scholes and the way they play and I think he will be a follow on from that."

SC: Wayne Rooney

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    Simply put: Sir Alex Ferguson won't start a game against Arsenal without Wayne Rooney.

SC: Danny Welbeck

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    Sir Alex Ferguson's persistence in playing Danny Welbeck against Tottenham Hotspurs was singular proof that he intended to play the England U-21 international against Arsenal.

    Were this not the case, Dimitar Berbatov would have gotten a run-out and Javier Hernandez would have played for much longer than he did. Welbeck's effort, industry and commitment to the cause are admirable, and I believe he will be rewarded with a place in the starting 11.

    Speaking after the Tottenham match, Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that Welbeck's performance has handed him a selection headache:

    "The horrible thing for me now is with Chicharito (Hernandez) back what do I do? It's going to be a problem for me."