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Ferguson Favored Form Over Formation In United’s Loss

Ahead of their match with Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson said that a draw would not have been a terrible result for Manchester United, and there performance was indicative of that.

Aaron Ramsey got the all-important goal for the Gunners in the second half, and the only surprising element from that goal was not that it was a fill-in or midfielder who scored it, but that it took the hosts so long to score.

Ferguson knows all to well that his Arsenal counterpart, Arsene Wenger, loves to deploy a five-man midfield, but the United manager was defiant and did not mirror their formation – and he paid for it.

A lot of talk will be about United losing their fourth match of the season away from Old Trafford, but that form really has nothing to do with it what happen in North London. The formation that Sir Alex selected was not the normal formation he usually goes with against Arsenal, which is a 4-5-1 that has Wayne Rooney harassing the Arsenal defenders.

Instead, Ferguson went with a 4-4-2 keeping Rooney and Javier Hernandez partnered in the attack, and that was the beginning of the disaster, because the battle of the pitch where games are usually won and lost had the Reds at a disadvantage throughout.


Michael Carrick and Anderson have rarely been partnered in the center of the midfield, and they clearly lacked any sort of understanding and they were severely exposed by being outnumbered three to two. Neither of them were able to get on the ball, and Arsenal were gifted long spells of possession, which led to frustration for United and it built up the Gunners frail confidence.

Cesc Fabregas missed the match through injury, and Ferguson played Anderson for that simple reason. Not only was he left ruing that decision, but he did not have any center midfielders to call upon to help subside the onslaught. Paul Scholes was missing through suspension, Ryan Giggs was being rested, Darren Fletcher is recovering from a long-term virus or Darron Gibson was left out for only a reason that Sir Alex knows, which really left the Reds up against it.

With United needing a goal, Ferguson had no choice but to bring off Carrick, which saw Ji-Sung Park and Wayne Rooney operating in the center of the midfield, which took away from both of them their more affecting positions.


Hernandez’s tremendous athletic ability was canceled out by all of the Gunners in the back-four, which led to him becoming a non-existent factor against them. In fairness to him though, Chicharito was constantly in the minority with Rooney having to drop off deeper to get the ball.

Ferguson saw this, and finally made a change and brought on Dimitar Berbatov in his place, but the Premier League’s leading goal scorer never looked like he was going to add to his total. With 21 goals to his name, the Bulgarian had 16 minutes to make an impression, but failed to get more than 10 touches of the ball as his teammates looked for other options rather than go through him. Berbatov should not shoulder any of the blame for this loss, because he was not the only starter or substitute that put in a very lackluster performance. Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen both came on substitutes, and neither of them could energize the Reds to a share of the points.


Like what happened in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Tottenham, there were a further two decisions that could have sent the North-South Derby in either direction.

Chris Foy, who the commentators were saying that United was biased towards United, could have very easily given a penalty to Arsenal in the first half. Theo Walcott teased in a terrific cross towards Robin van Persie, but a wayward arm from Nemanja Vidic got the slightest of touches to deflect out of his path, and United got off the hook.

Well, the Gunners might feel hard done by for their clear penalty shout, but late in the second half they were guilty of getting away with one as well. Owen’s first bit of action saw him slip behind the Arsenal defense, but instead of being able to pounce, Gael Clichy stepped on the back of his leg to prohibit his progress, but, again, Foy was not having any interest in it.

While those decisions equaled themselves out, there was a bit of ridiculousness with his consistency. Meaning that towards the end of the first half, Rooney was booked for a simple foul on Jack Wilshere, and he did not show the same strictness towards Alexandre Song. About to be booked for three needless, consecutive fouls on United players, the Arsenal midfielder, who was one of the best players on the field, raised his arm into the throat of Rooney as he was trying to get the ball to set up the resulting free-kick, which should have seen him go for an early bath.

In the whole scheme of things, those decisions did not dictate the result, Manchester United’s poor sense of urgency and style of play did.

Submitted by The United Religion

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. dutchgunner

    May 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    what biased load of crap this article is, you write this article like the only reason Arsenal won was because of united formation and team selection, like it had nothing to do with Arsenal playing well. Also you mention song pushing rooney should have been a red? funny you totally forget to even mention evra SLAPPING wilshere (or it might have been ramsey) thats a straight red, which would have been uniteds SECOND red, not to mention united would then have been playing chelsea next week without vidic or evra…and yet fergie still has the audacity to whinge about ref decisions…

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