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Arsenal Midfield v United Midfield

Darren Fletcher Darren Fletcher of Manchester United challenges Andre Ayew of Marseille during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Marseille and Manchester United at the Stade Velodrome on February 23, 2011 in Marseille, France.

After about 20 or so minutes in the Manchester United – Marseille game, it became very clear that neither side was prepared to take a risk going forward and give the opposition a chance to score. It was the kind of game that the commentators like calling “cagey”. It was true – neither side wanted to give anything away, which resulted only in a tedious, drab draw which left pretty much everyone frustrated.

United’s best effort was a Darren Fletcher snap shot which he hit into the ground proving awkward for the goalkeeper, but he dived well to save it despite seeing it late through a sea of flailing legs. Then, probably the most interesting and curious event was Wayne Rooney looking up to see the keeper off is line only for him to attempt a Beckham style half way line goal that was easily caught.

Those two attempts were the only two that United managed to get on target – long range efforts that required no clever or defence cutting passing, no midfield creativity, no team imagination – simply a spur of the moment snap shot and an individual piece of forward thinking which in the end, both led to nothing.

Before the game, the Marseille manager Didier Deschamps claimed that this United team lacked “fantasy”. Unfortunately, his comments were pretty well supported with clear evidence on the pitch last night (not that his team proved to be creative masterminds themselves).

A look at the starting midfield for Manchester United explains a lot. Darron Gibson, Darren Fletcher and Michel Carrick. They are all good midfielders, and they all do their own job – granted, not always well, but they can sure up the midfield, making it a steady area and so on. The problem is, they don’t have that inventive artistry that makes Paul Scholes such a great midfielder with his superb vision, and ability to follow through that vision with his astonishing passing range. The midfield was left passing sideways to each other and could not find an innovative forward ball enough.

Compare United’s central midfield triplet to Arsenal’s three, Nasri, Fabregas and Wilshere, and no matter which way you look at it, even if you are the most avid United fan, the Arsenal midfield is far more dangerous, imaginative and attackingly productive.

This is why Paul Scholes is so important to United. He has the quality and vision to do what the Arsenal midfield do – find that clever ball, cut open the opposition defence – create a goal.

Unfortunately, when he came on against Marseille, he was getting frustrated by the movement around him, and couldn’t make the impact that was hoped for. He has been sitting on the bench all game watching the defence and midfield try hopeful long balls to no avail, with the penetrative “fantasy” that Deschamps was talking about woefully absent.

United can be better, they have proved it before this season, but unfortunately, they haven’t shown it enough, especially away from home. Ferguson will certainly need to add to his midfield in the summer that is beyond doubt, especially if he is to be without Paul Scholes if he decides to retire. The United manager will also need to spend big on quality and not potential, as this is a problem that needs to be fixed sooner rather than later.

United have some tough remaining fixtures with two games against Chelsea, and one away game against Arsenal at the Emirates where the two midfields will come face to face. I still tip United for the win, as the defence is far stronger (Chris Smalling was brilliant with Vidic again), but Arsenal have a superior midfield, which is something that needs to be sorted out if the Red Devils are to challenge for all the trophies next season.

Tell me what you think!

Submitted by DBSFootball



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  2. Luke

    February 25, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Apart from the fact that Arsenals midfield 3 is Song, Fabregas, Wilshire – not Nasri. But yes as a United fan I acknowledge they are much more creative. However I believe United only need to sign one creative player in midfield. Arsenal play their style through their midfield. Personally I will always prefer United fast counter attacking and working the flanks style – but thats just how I’ve been brought up!

  3. dazbomber

    February 25, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Why do United win every time they play them ? they get something right.

    • Gallus

      February 25, 2011 at 11:57 am

      Thats exactly the question which everyone’s been asking for all these years. How can a team which plays shit football win so much? Even Fergusson is looking for answers ’cause the only thing he has taught them is to look much much better than you actually are & intimidate your opponents into submission. Of course, these are extremely important qualities in a competitive league, but not the only ones. For ManU its only winning that matters, not how they play the game. Scholes recently said that they don’t mind how they play as long as they win the league. Success in the game does not depend upon the quality of football entirely. ManU have all the other qualities except for the one that should matter. But thats the world we live in 🙂

      Looking forward to a vitriolic backlash from the retarted ManU fans :o)

  4. Ofem michael

    February 25, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Arsenal midfield is good but without fabregas,that sublime or should I call it
    Killer pass is not always there,wilshere,song and nasri are all brilliiant and good
    Passers of the ball but when cesc is not in the game the link up play from the
    Midfielders to the attackers is very poor they hardly create chances you saw it
    against stoke we were lucky to come out with a 1 goal win my advise to Wenger
    Is to buy another courageous striker like Van persie cos you can see the effect
    It always have on the team up front if Van persie does not play,wenger should go
    To the Netherlands and get another striker like Van Persie if we still want to challenge
    Other teams next season for any trophy,#Gunnersforlife LEEGO!

  5. Ofem michael

    February 25, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Vanpersie is the player that puts a balance to the Arsenal team he is a complete striker
    So when teams play against him they hardly put pressure on the Arsenal team bcos they know that if they attack and leave the midfield open where by when a counter occures and Vanpersie gets the ball
    On his favourite foot there is a 70% chance that he will score that makes other teams very cautious when they attack Arsenal especially when Vanpersie plays
    The moment Vanpersie picks up an injury no matter how much the midfielders play,imagine playing a 90min game and dominating the whole game from the begining to the end and not scoring a goal all
    Bcos of the lack of quality striker upfront’Take the a case study of Arsenal and stoke’but imagine if Vanpersie was in that match #Gunersforlife LEEGO!

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  7. Killer

    February 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    To be frank our midfield is better but Fab’s imagination is great….. however i have always said CFO4 is the player who makes us tick BUT RvP is the player who makes us win games. RvP ‘s eye for goal and technique is superb!

  8. Joshua Omagwa

    February 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Arsenal mid is creative, intelligent and swift. No matter from which angle yoy look at it from they are much supperior. Let us wait for April and proof wrong.

  9. Robert

    February 25, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    United’s defence is good enough to thwart Arsenal’s midfield. Wilshere and Nasri are greatly over-rated and with Fabregas injury prone I expect our golden triangle of Rooney, Nani and Berbatov to give the knock out blow!

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