Red Devils Advocate: Beating Arsenal Could Transform United’s Season

Last Saturday night’s game was not, by any means, the heavy weight title-deciding fixture that Manchester United versus Arsenal became known for during the early 2000s. From Manchester United’s point of view it was scrappy, frustrating and at times they had to be disappointingly defensive. However, leaving the Emirates with three points could be a crucial turning point for Louis Van Gaal to transform the course of United’s season.

Although it was incredibly frustrating to watch United being constantly held in their own half, and at times struggling to escape the penalty area, the defence put in an impressive display to prevent an incredibly creative Arsenal side from scoring until the consolation goal just before the end. The United defence can only be described as make shift. Chris Smalling, who turned 25 on Saturday, Paddy McNair, 19 and Tyler Blackett, 20, all started at centre back and despite a relative inexperience between them they looked superbly solid at times and managed to largely keep Arsenal’s key players quiet.  This was particularly true of Alexis Sanchez who had nowhere near the impact that he has had in other key games for Arsenal this season. There were a few concerning moments, especially with the lackadaisical approach that Blackett seemed to adopt at times, however on the whole United stayed strong at the back, once again helped by another strong performance by David De Gea. Considering the way United have defended so far this season, one must be impressed by the way the way they managed to withstand the Gunners’ last ditch attempts to close out a tough game.

Manchester United’s offence appeared to struggle on Saturday night, notably highlighted by the fact that United only had one shot on target. Considering the massive amount of money that has been spent on attacking players by United in the past year, one would expect more from them. Despite this, towards the end of the game United did look stronger going forward, especially through the quick counter attacks, this could just be a sign of the Red Devils struggling to control the midfield in the midst of their current injury crisis.

It may not have been the most convincing or the most entertaining victory that Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United side will ever secure but it could be one of the most important. United are in a transitional period and have suffered a lot of injuries so far meaning they’ve struggled to find a rich vein of form. So it is increasingly necessary that they are able to grind out tough results, even more importantly, with the notorious festive period fast approaching. This could be a crucial time in the season, United must make the most of the stuttering form of most teams in the league and capitalise on it to cement their place in the top 4. Saturdays win proves that they are able to battle to a victory, even when they’re being out played, this is something Van Gaal must inspire in his players in the tough matches to come.


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